Aretha Franklin – Respect

Otis Redding (the writer of the song): “This girl has taken that song from me. Ain’t no longer my song. From now on, it belongs to her.”

Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin are my two top female singers of all time. When they are singing a song…there is no question about who it is.

Otis Redding wrote this and originally recorded it in 1965, with his version peaking at #35 on the Billboard 100 and #5 on the R&B Charts.

It was Aretha’s idea to cover this song. She came up with the arrangement, added the “sock it to me” lines, and played piano on the track. Her sister Carolyn, who sang backup on the album, also helped work up the song. It was different than Redding’s version. His version consisted of only verses. Aretha borrowed King Curtis’s sax solo from Sam and Dave’s When Something is Wrong With My Baby and used that for the bridge.

Franklin’s version is certainly the best-known version but the song was important in Otis’s career also. It helped establish Redding on mainstream radio. Otis also performed the song at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967…this was a defining performance for the singer, who died in a plane crash six months later.

Aretha recorded this in New York City with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. This was one of their first and most famous recordings. They went on to work with Wilson Pickett, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, and The Staple Singers. It was produced by the legendary producer Jerry Wexler and engineered by Tom Dowd.

Another fun fact…the “ree, ree, ree, ree…” refrain is a nod to Franklin’s nickname, Ree (as in A-Ree-tha). The song peaked at #1 on the Billboard 100, #3 in Canada, and #10 in the UK in 1967.

Respect earned Franklin two Grammy Awards in 1968 for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording and Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female. Franklin’s “Respect” was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2002, the Library of Congress added Franklin’s version of the song to the National Recording Registry.

Tom Dowd: “I walked out into the studio and said, ‘What’s the next song?’ Aretha starts singing it to me, I said, ‘I know that song, I made it with Otis Redding like three years ago.’ The first time I recorded ‘Respect,’ was on the Otis Blue album, and she picked up on it. She and Carolyn were the ones who conceived of it coming from the woman’s point of view instead of the man’s point of view, and when it came to the middle, Carolyn said, ‘Take care, TCB.’ Aretha jumped on it and that was how we did ‘Respect.'”

Otis Redding: “That’s one of my favorite songs because it has a better groove than any of my records. It says something, too: ‘What you want, baby, you got it; what you need, baby, you got it; all I’m asking for is a little respect when I come home.’ The song lines are great. The band track is beautiful. It took me a whole day to write it and about twenty minutes to arrange it. We cut it once and that was it. Everybody wants respect, you know.”

Aretha Franklin: “Everyone wants to be respected.”


What you want (ho) baby I got it
What you need (ho) you know I got it
(Ho) all I’m asking (ho) is for a little respect
When you come home (just a little bit)
Hey baby (just little bit)
When you get home (just a little Bit) mister (just a little bit)

I ain’t gonna do you wrong while you’re gone
I ain’t gonna do you wrong ’cause I don’t wanna
All I’m asking is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit)
Baby (just a little bit)
When you get home (just a little bit) yeah (just a little bit)

I’m about to give you all my money
And all I’m asking in return honey
Is to give me my propers when you get home (just a, just a, just a, just a)
Yeah, baby when you get home (just a little bit)
Yeah (just a little bit)

Ho your kisses (ho) sweeter than honey (ho) and guess what (ho) so is my money (ho)
All I want you to do for me is give it to me when you get home (re, re, re, re, re, respect)
Yeah baby whip it to me (just a little bit)
When you get home now (just a little bit)

R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, take care, T-C-B oh (Sock it to me)

A little respect oh yeah (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)
I get tired (just a little bit)
Keep on tryin’ (just a little bit)
You’re runnin’ out of fools (just a little bit)
And I ain’t lyin’ (just a little bit)
(Re, re, re, re) ‘spect
When you come home (re, re, re ,re)
Or you might walk in (respect, just a little bit)
And find out I’m gone (just a little bit)
I got to have (just a little bit)


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

31 thoughts on “Aretha Franklin – Respect”

  1. I know Aretha’s version would not have happened without the great Otis Redding but it really stands on its own. There’s no other cover song (reworked or otherwise) that ranks so high on so many lists of greatest songs of all time. It stands on it own merits as it’s own entity.
    So many interesting stories attached to this song, I don’t recall hearing about the “re, re,re” before, so the old dog learned something today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Otis’ original was fairly good, but there’s no real debate Aretha made it a lot better and made it ‘her own’. Really good song – absolutely. Best-ever (as I believe Rolling Stone now rank it) – not that close, to me. There are actually other songs I like more by her (‘Chain of Fools’, ‘Til You Come Back To Me’ come to mind)but I admit they don’t have the gravitas or ‘message’ of ‘Respect.’

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When the aritist who wrote the song admits it…that is all you need. There are other songs I like better by her but yea…got to respect….Respect.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow…that is a cool one to share a birthday with… I share with two famous people. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ronnie Van Zant.


      1. Another is Elton John. I did a series on “Two for Tuesday” (the precursor to “Five For Friday”) of musicians born on March 25. Another is an excellent country singer from the Northwest named Bonnie Guitar. Diana Ross is close (I think she’s the 24th). I have fun with things like that…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Her big hit was “Dark Moon,” but she had a few others. She just passed away a couple of years ago, and was active into her 90’s. YouTube has a bunch of her songs and a few live clips of her. Enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Otis Redding said exactly right: “This girl has taken that song from me. Ain’t no longer my song. From now on, it belongs to her.” He wrote a great song. Aretha Franklin really took it to the next level. She was just an unbelievable vocalist.

    I once came very close to seeing her in Newark on what would have been her 76th birthday – already had the ticket! Essentially, she had come out of retirement to do a few dates. Then all shows were suddenly cancelled upon counsel of her doctor. Six months later, she passed away!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I got another one that I really like…you are going to think I’ve flipped or just a huge fan…which I am…but listen to Keith Moon sing “In My Life”…he changes the song to make it way more sad than the Beatles.. I don’t like it more…don’t get me wrong but it’s incredibly sad with him doing it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I mean, this is the ‘how to make your take on a song the definitive version 101’. I always forget that it isn’t Aretha’s song. I do think the lyrics work better when sung by a woman, but that might just be because she sings them so well…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the song stands well as two songs. Otis’ version speaks to the lack of respect we give to Black men in the workplace and in the culture and he asks for it in the one place it’s possible – home. Aretha’s version speaks to the lack of respect we give to women and asks her partner, at least, to show her respect. The two make a great call and response. BTW, today is the 55th anniversary of Otis Redding’s death. (See my post of today for details.)

    Liked by 1 person

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