Spanish Harlem

I remember Aretha Franklin’s album Who’s Zoomin’ Who coming out in 1985 and it seemed like she had almost reinvented herself to appeal to a younger audience, not that she ever had a shortage of success or fans in her career up to that point. It did, however, rise higher on the charts than anything since the early 1970s and reached platinum status in Canada (100,000 copies sold). I must spin that record again sometime soon.

“Aretha,” as she was often addressed singularly, was a powerful force in the music world until her death in 2018.

A few years before, she appeared in the musical comedy, The Blues Brothers, where she plays a soul food restaurant owner and spouse of Matt “Guitar” Murphy, who defies her sung warning for him to “Think” instead of going off again with the Blues Brothers band.

Taking some time to catch up on this past Sunday’s episode of Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on the BBC Sounds app yesterday, I was captivated the upbeat music and backup vocals launching into Franklin’s 1971 version of the Ben E. King song, “Spanish Harlem.” Many other artists covered the song including Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, Cliff Richard, Trini Lopez and many others. Franklin changed the lyrics slightly from “There is a rose in Spanish Harlem…” to “There is a rose in Black and Spanish Harlem…” and I hear the singers’ exuberance in belting that line out.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy. And, I challenge you to keep still while the song plays!

Here’s the official audio from Aretha Franklin’s YouTube channel:

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