This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #151: You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin.
“You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” is, unquestionably, one of the most iconic songs in all of music history and, certainly, one of Aretha Franklin’s most noteworthy songs. The story behind how this song came to be written dovetails nicely with the post I just wrote about concerning “Up On The Roof” by The Drifters. If you remember from that post, *(which you can read here), I talked a bit about a songwriting hub in New York City called “The Brill Building” and that, within that building, existed teams of song writers, session players and record producers……well, Carole King and her husband and songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin, (who both worked inside of The Brill Building) wrote “You make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” in one night, based upon a suggestion shouted at them from a NYC Yellow Cab by fellow Brill Building producer, Jerry Wexler, for a song about “a natural woman”. Apparently, Goffin did most of the writing for this song and was known, at the time, for his ability to write for female singers *(He also, wrote the lyrics for The Shirelles hit, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”). “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” was also, eventually, recorded by King for her seminal album, “Tapestry” and turned out to be a hit for her, as well.
Next to “Respect”, the song, “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” was Aretha Franklin’s biggest hit. It has, also, served as a source of inspiration for everyone from Celine Dion, to Mariah Carey, to Jennifer Hudson and a whole host of other powerful female singers who draw fulfillment from a song about the power of love to heal and to uplift. But, no one sings this song like Lady Soul, herself. So, it was with tremendous anticipation that Aretha Franklin appeared on to the stage of The Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in 2015 in New York to sing this song, in tribute, to Carole King when she was being honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Franklin’s rendition brought everyone to their feet and moved many to tears; including the Michelle and Barack Obama, who were in the audience that night. Needless to say, Carole King was the most delighted of all.
One funny bit of trivia from the creation of this song is that, even though Goffin and King wrote the song, they decided to give Jerry Wexler a songwriting credit because his shouted-out idea helped inspire the title of the song, along with its’ theme. So, even though he had little to do with the song beyond that, Wexler has been receiving residual/royalty payments for over a half a century now.
Without further delay, here is that very performance from The Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts. Get ready for the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, singing “You Make Me Feel LIke a Natural Woman”, written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. It is a showstopping, empowering, joyous moment, for sure. Enjoy!
The link to the video for the song, “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Aretha Franklin, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Carole King, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.