Respect was Aretha Franklin’s only solo number one single and her first international hit. The original version, written and released by Otis Redding in 1965, was a somewhat misogynistic message from a working man to a housewife, but when Aretha heard it she decided it needed an answer from a woman’s perspective.

Working with her two sisters, she began by changing the pronouns in Otis’ version, so instead of a plea for respect “when I get home”, she sings “when you get home”. She then added a bridge with the iconic R-E-S-P-E-C-T and ‘Sock it to me’ call-and-response.

Lyrically the song is very easy, using almost only the present simple and continuous, with one example of ‘going to’ for future (or ‘gonna’). As the song progresses she introduces the imperative, which was almost absent from the Otis Redding version, interplaying with her backing singers, indicative of her intention of making this a strong declaration of female empowerment and unity.

Released in 1967 in a difficult period of American history, Respect, a song by a black woman, became an anthem for the civil rights and women’s rights movements. In a 2017 interview Aretha said, “I don’t think (the song’s sentiment) is bold at all. I think it’s quite natural that we all want respect — and should get it.”