Aretha’s songs are a handbook of how women deal with love

The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin performs at The Fox Theatre on March 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Courtesy)
Anyone who claims to know music must know Aretha Franklin, her music and most of all her voice - one of nature’s finest creations. I feel a certain sense of sadness following her demise, so today I want to pen a few lines in honour of her life and her music.

I grew up in the era of cassettes and later CDs, which meant we often heard the musician before we actually saw them perform live. So, many of us had heard Aretha sing R-E-S-P-E-CT, and we knew all the lyrics but we had never watched any of her performances. I must say the first time I saw her on TV, I was disappointed for I had hoped for more.

She was not as sultry as Toni Braxton, or Anita Baker she was not as elegant as Whitney Houston and she did not have the abs of Janet Jackson. But when she sang, and when she got into the zone, it is was like she was in a trance, as if the music had taken her over, and she would take us with her. Somehow, we forgot that she was slightly on the heavier side, that her boobs were not as perky as a diva’s ought to be and her face was slightly underwhelming- this is all because of how her voice would wrap around the lyrics and make magic.

However, what most people do not know is that most of Aretha’s songs are really a handbook or encyclopedia, about women, about how they feel and how they deal with relationships. Men claim that women are hard to read, but if you listen to Aretha, then you will get full and unbridled understanding of how women, feel and think about love and their men. As Leo Tolstoy said, Music is the shorthand of emotion- and Aretha’s music is the shorthand of female emotions. Here are a few songs.

RESPECT- Ask any woman today what she needs more than anything and she will tell you that it is respect for love without respect is torture. Women want the men in their lives to respect them and to dump all those silly disrespectful things they do on daily basis.  For women disrespect is everything from not keeping simple promises of sambazarig airtime, returning phone calls, to major actions like posting not in a relationship on your Facebook page or breaking up with her through text or Whatsapp.

Disrespect is everything from not standing up to offer a woman a seat, to calling a woman Mama when she sees herself as Auntie. Disrespect  is showing up to a woman’s house empty handed, proceeding to hog the DSTV channels while in the full knowledge that you do not pay rent  then expecting to get laid(even without bringing the condoms). Disrespect is hurling anything unpleasant to a woman- from verbally insulting her to laying a hand on her. Any sane man who wants to know and to be loved by a woman needs to avoid all these and a woman will fell that she has received her fair share of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Willing to forgive and Chain of fools- Any man who has cheated on their woman(or plans to ) should listen to these two songs because they paint an accurate picture of how women view cheating. For starters just as Aretha says in Willing to Forgive, women always sense when their man is cheating- it just  they often inexplicably choose the path of denial. Let us face it even after all these centuries, men are still lousy cheaters. Now matter how smart a man thinks when he is cheating,  no matter how many showers he takes after his shameful act, he will always leave behind that last whiff of perfume that reeks of cheating. No matter how hard he tries to act normal, women still notice the changes from boxers to briefs, from One Million to Creed cologne, to sudden possessiveness about their mobile phones. Yet there are many smart women who are unable to unyoke themselves from such men. Those kind of women are described by Aretha in Chain of fools. No amount of talking to can get these women to unyoke themselves from these bad boys of love- it is like they have a hypnotic drug that leads them to overlook all the obvious symptoms of cheating. And let no man or woman kid himself, when your man is cheating it hurts really bad but women in love often have this knack of forgiving( but of course never forgetting)

Say a little prayer, Make me feel like a natural woman-  these songs say everything about what love feels like when she is love. Love consumes women, takes over everything from how they sleep, how they wake up and how they feel. If you want to know a woman who is in love (and who is getting properly laid) pay attention to her voice (somehow it becomes more girlish), watch her walk (she gets a certain sassiness in her walk) and she becomes complete putty in the hands of the one she loves.

That is why if men paid a bit more attention, they would notice it when their women are having affairs in the office, or in love with their best man or their brother – for women in love are one of nature’s finest creations. To make matters worse, women do love forever and so can marry one man yet love another for eternity. All men have to do is decide which man they want to be. So, if you want to know about women and love, listen to Aretha. In the meantime, I cannot wait to watch the musical sendoff she will receive. Rest in peace, Aretha. 

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