In Memoriam: Aretha Franklin

The angels never get tired of taking the people we can’t afford to lose. And they did it again when the news came down that Aretha Franklin was gone from the world. Her battle with cancer came to an end yesterday at her home in Detroit. And now we’re left to pray that she has been delivered to a better place, while ours just got a little bit colder.

That voice, it could have stolen the moon back in the middle of the day. That one of a kind voice would win her 18 Grammys and sell more than 75 million records, and it resulted in her being the first female performer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. These are a few of the many accomplishments of a performer whose gift was majestic and whose timing was providential. But she was so much more than that. Because it was her voice that brought a peaceful conclusion to the tumult that was the late ’60’s, and it was her songs that made us believe in better days.

As a boy, I remember how her lyrics curled up into me and took me to places I hadn’t even discovered yet, much less defined. She had a way of weaving silk out of thin air and remedying the cloudiest of days with these wonderful lyrics born of stardust and Venus and dreams. There wasn’t a musical venue on God’s green earth that could contain that magical voice of hers, because it didn’t belong to us. That voice, it belonged to every single mystery of the universe and its comforting presence allowed no room for darkness, only light.

A beautiful voice can take you with it, but only a truly special voice can take you there and hold you inside that moment. Hers is the voice that always brings me back to a place in time when I hear a certain song. That is what Aretha Franklin means to me, and always will. Because she transports me to a time when her voice spelled the world differently. She was both familiar and ethereal, a magnificent force of nature whose gift screamed the living daylights into the deepest reaches of our souls.

And to this day, and for the rest of the days I’ve got going, I can hear the needle drop on a hot vinyl weave, and I can feel that glorious scratch of anticipation right before she let loose with her miracle of a fire and rain sound. And I will always remember how she spoke to me, in simple terms whose complications were painted so wondrously as to be symphonic.

She didn’t simply make the world a better place, she made it more understandable, more beautiful . . more worth it. She dressed our days and nights in the sincere language of troubled times and dreams come true.

The angels didn’t just steal another soul yesterday. They took our Queen.






50 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Aretha Franklin

    • Righteous,
      She was quicksilver goodness to my senses as a little boy. That voice . . all this time later I STILL remember certain moments to that voice.
      May the heavens be having a party for the ages. Of this, I’ve no doubt.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Boss,
      I did think of you yesterday when I heard of her passing, knowing you are a native of Detroit. You understand, you get it . . that feeling that would vibe your step whenever Aretha preached on something righteous.
      She married lyrics to melody with a voice for the ages, and I know that the angels are getting one hell of a concert tonight.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I feel as if my credentials have been revoked in perpetuity, BUT, if I were to gain a connection whose access would somehow be able to circumvent St. Peter’s encrypted gate . . well, that’s neither here nor thereafter.
          I’m with you though, imagine that scene?

          Liked by 2 people

          • Imma use your reference, John. Imagine St. Peter at the pearly gates with his shades on waving certain peeps in while holding up the stop sign palm-nyetto to others. Alls I got to do is drop your name and in I go! I’ll stick out my tongue when I pass by Marie Osmond . . .


  1. Dear B,

    You and your wonderful, beautiful gift. Monika said it, you silver-tongued magician. Your beautiful words paired with her angelic voice is a duo that will have the angels singing, for sure. We cannot keep them with us, in person, forever. As the years go by, we lose another and another… Lucky for us mere mortals, their gifts have been recorded for us to enjoy while we are amongst the living. A joyful thing indeed.

    Your tribute is the most beautiful I’ve read/heard since the news dropped yesterday. Thank you for that.

    Ain’t no way we will ever forget her…

    Lotsa love,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m at the corner of Monroe and Wacker yesterday morning when the man next to me was struck with grief. I smiled to try to console him. He took out his ear buds and said, “Aretha Franklin died”. I said a quiet prayer and we spoke to one another for the five more seconds it took for the traffic light to change and the 12 more seconds it took to for us to cross Wacker. He thanked me as he walked on toward his day. I thanked him for sharing. And I thank you for having honoring her for the Queen that she was. Her legacy lives on in our hearts, in our memories, and through her recorded voice that gave us music like we never heard or experienced before. Thank God for the gift we had in her.

    Liked by 2 people

    • KC,
      This is what Aretha Franklin meant. That there minute of time that you spent with a stranger turned friend, sharing the loss, together.
      This was beautiful. And thank you. And yes, thank God for that gift that spells our world differently in the very best of ways.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The French loved Aretha, and France musique had spent the day playing all the concerts Aretha sang in France, during her lifetime. It was just glorious, and there were videos of some of those concerts, from the 70s, that were so brilliant, it is not even possible to explain in words, there is not the vocabulary to do so. Aretha breached the laws of physics, she was a true miracle. Aretha Franklin was a true American, and represented what America, in its youth still, was able to produce.

    As for what you wrote, I’m in tears : Sublime !

    Liked by 1 person

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