Since the great Aretha Franklin passed ten or so days ago, her music has been playing around my Harlem neighborhood, from boom boxes, speaker systems, car radios. It has been a recurring pleasure to hear. Somehow, Aretha being played out loud, in the street and parks, en plein air, makes it feel like she is there, singing. As does this remarkable clip from the earliest Blues Brother’s film. Aretha dancing and leaning back singing FREEDOM is pure, liberating joy. (The first 1.5 minutes sets it up, then at 1:50 it takes off…)
In the midst of the unsettling minor disaster in my apartment, it broke the spell of worry I was living under, and reminded me of the enduring antidote to difficult times: sheer beauty. Then, when the blasting machinary and plastic containment were removed and my place was pushed roughly back into place, as I was standing amidst the quiet and mess, Aretha’s anthem sprang to mind.