Aretha Franklin Was The Greatest Goddamned Singer Who Ever Lived


Aretha Franklin passed away this morning at the age of 76 of advanced pancreatic cancer -- still far too young -- surrounded by family and friends at her home in Detroit. I don't know that we deserved her, but we were lucky as all hell to have her.

There's no voice like hers, no version of any song that she didn't make 10,000 times better. Even on her quietest notes at the lowest volume, her voice filled the room. She was the Queen of Soul, sure, but she killed any song, in any genre, and made it the platonic ideal of what that song should be.

Musical theater!

The Beatles!


Simon and Garfunkel!

She was the Queen of Goddamned EVERYTHING.

She was incredible when she was young, singing her first single for Atlantic.

And she was incredible just a few years ago when she sang "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at Carole King's Kennedy Center Honors celebration. She was just always so goddamned perfect.

And that includes when she wasn't singing. She was dedicated to civil rights and social justice, both publicly and privately. She once offered to pay Angela Davis's bail money, which is pretty freaking bad ass.

And she was hilarious, as exemplified in this Wall Street Journal interview where she was asked about Taylor Swift, and said merely that she had very nice ... gowns.

I don't remember the first time I ever heard Aretha, because I'm pretty sure I was in the womb. I wish I had a story, a good one, like so many other people have, but I don't. She was my mom's favorite, so she was just on all of the time. I can tell you that when I was slightly older and tried to listen to Madonna, I was swiftly told, "No, that will ruin your ear. If you want to sing, you listen to Aretha." Aretha was just always a fact of life, her voice being the best voice was just a fact of life, and the world honestly seems like it's just about run its course without her in it.

There aren't words that can do her justice -- so I suggest everyone just do what I'm going to do, and just listen to her music all day and cry. In the meantime, though, there sure are some lovely tributes out there.


Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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