Aretha Franklin, known as the “Queen of Soul,” passed away at 76 on Thursday. For a remembrance, see this article in Rolling Stone. I was struck by one remarkable moment that changed the course of her career:
On January 24th, 1967, Aretha Franklin was struggling to record “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” her first project for Atlantic after several years recording more conventional material for Columbia. As Franklin would recall, something with the studio musicians wasn’t clicking until someone said, “Aretha, why don’t you sit down and play?” Taking a seat at the piano, Franklin quickly cut the smoldering track that would become her first No. 1 R&B hit. “It just happened,” she said. “We arrived, and we arrived very quickly.” Her hits continued for decades.
Such a simple question: “Why don’t you sit down and play?” In that moment, Aretha stopped trying to be something that wasn’t true to herself, and she got real. She let herself be who she was. I recently watched this little documentary on Amazon Prime called Mister Rogers and Me. It was developed by someone who was highly influenced by Mister Rogers and what he stood for. One of the messages in the movie that really resonated with me was this. We are told to “love your neighbor as yourself.” If you don’t love yourself or see the good in yourself, you can’t see the good in your neighbor. If you love yourself, you can see that and love that about your neighbor. The bad we see in ourselves, we look for or see in our neighbor.
So my question to you is, do you love yourself? Are you taking time to recognize the things you’re doing well? Are you taking time to find “what went well” in each day? Even if it’s the littlest thing like, I had a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich today. Do you like you? I like you!
Feel welcome to share your favorite Aretha Franklin song or your favorite Mister Rogers moment with me.