How to steal a song

How to steal a song


norman lebrecht

December 30, 2015

This is Aretha Franklin asserting ownership of Natural Woman from songwriter Carole King.

At the Kennedy Center earlier this month. Just up online. Mesmeric.

Compared to: (a) The writer sings.

And (b) Aretha’s first version, from 1967.
aretha franklin


  • Rowna Sutin says:

    I heard it on TV last night. She was so “wow” that there really are no words. That woman can sing – ANYTHING!

  • Paul Kelly says:

    Best goddam Diva in the whole damn world.

  • Robert Roy says:

    Phenomenal! And I love her sable coat and the way she discards it!

  • Scott Fields says:

    Didn’t Otis Redding say the same thing when he heard her recording of “Respect,” which he wrote?

  • Robert Oxley says:

    Almost unknown, her “Somewhere” with Quincy Jones’ arrangement is beyond comparison. Yes, she is too.

  • Janis says:

    Any reason why you chose to celebrate one wonderful performer with a jab into the ribs of the composer? I mean, that reads as a little like trying to stoke a girly catfight. Pavarotti didn’t “assert ownership” of anything from Puccini by singing Mario Cavaradossi. In fact, he reinforced it.

    • Stephen H. Owades says:

      Actually, it’s worse than that. “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” was commissioned by Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records specifically for Aretha Franklin. It’s no wonder that it fits her voice and her personality so well. It’s the last song by the songwriting duo of King and (Gerry) Goffin, at the point where the two were approaching divorce, both musically and personally. Although Carole King has sung and recorded it, it’s specifically an Aretha Franklin song, and she has always “owned” it.

  • David Boxwell says:

    CK is verklempt to the max!

  • MacroV says:

    Carole King is presumably crying all the way to the bank, with the royalties from her song being performed on national tv, and hopefully a little from the 7 million views on YouTube for the 1967 version and 150,000 and counting from this latest rendition.

  • Marcelo Mendes says:

    Does the same with “Let it be”.

  • Carment says:

    Beautiful performance! Worth noting that home in Detroit, she’s known as an avid opera lover. She’s frequently spotted discretely slipping into a backrow seat at Detroit opera

    In 1998 when Pavrotti cancelled at the last minute for a televised grammy awards show, Aretha stepped in on 20 minutes notice sang Nessun Dorma for a delighted audience.

    • MacroV says:

      Very interesting rendition it was. You can see it here:

      • V.Lind says:

        Sorry. Hated it when I heard it on the night. Hearing it again has not improved my opinion of it. What Ms. Franklin does in her own world is remarkable, but this is to me just stunting. Breathe when you feel like it, move syllables at will, etc.

        That said, the KC performance was very impressive, and Ms. Franklin, despite ill health in recent years, is clearly weathering better than Ms. King, who seemed to have been in meltdown long before she appeared on the stage. Aside from a fine performance, it was great to see Ms. Franklin looking so well.

  • Steve Metcalf says:

    And let’s not overlook the fact that the woman can sure enough play some piano.

  • Rodolfo Ravissant says:

    They Steal my Heart