The Soundtrack of Your Life

The queen of soul, Ms Aretha Franklin died a week ago and I feel quite bereft inside as she was one of the musicians on the soundtrack of my life.

Since she blasted on to the world music scene in 1967 with Otis Redding’s song ‘Respect’, which became an anthem for women everywhere, Aretha sang songs that resonated deeply with me. Such songs as: ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’ (written by Carole King) 1967, “Chain of Fools’ 1967, ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ 1968, ‘I Never Loved a Man, (the Way I Loved You) 1967 were the songs of my nursing training years, engagement and marriage in 1969. 

During the 1970’s, the years of Women’s Lib, world-wide, Aretha’s songs continued to inspire me, such as ‘Rock Steady’, ‘Don’t Play That Song’ and ‘Angel’. Who can forget her magnificent duet with Annie Lennox ‘Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves’ in the mid ‘80’s, which became another anthem for women everywhere?

Aretha, in 1997, effortlessly stepped in when Pavarotti cancelled a guest performance due to poor health. Asked if she could sing his best-known aria, ‘Nessun Dorma’, she asked to listen to it first, then gave a most moving and powerful rendition, owning the song, bringing the audience to their feet. I was reduced to tears each time I listened to it! She repeated this song at the 2015 Grammy Awards to another standing ovation – what a singer!

Who were the influential musicians in your life, those singers who touch your heartstrings with almost every song? For many of my generation, The Beatles and their songs resonated with many of us. The Beachboys, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, my list grows long. Billy Joel emerged in the ‘70’s with his songs chronicling the events of the times – the Vietnam War, the cataclysmic events since WWII, the lives of the coal miners in Allenstown to name a few.

Why not take some time to draw up your own timeline? Use a page for each year of your life, noting where you lived, what you were doing (school student, working, in the armed services of your country, retired, etc. Add some of the songs, and their performers, who influenced you at certain times – those that inspired you, those that echoed in your heart, those with special meaning for you and the special people in your life…

Make a start today!

Annie Payne, History from the Heart

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