Something about responsibility?

Watching the Inauguration from the warm and toasty confines of the interior of a building, I was stunned by the Aretha Franklin performance. It wasn’t the ridiculous bow on her head that got me, but the troubling lack of quality of My Country Tis of Thee. The tempo of the singing didn’t seem to match up with the music, and I was certain that if not for the fact that I already knew what song she was singing, I would not have been able to figure it out on my own if I walked into the room a few notes in. I thought I might’ve been on my own, but a few Twitter responses backed me up, and then there’s this, a transcript of a Larry King interview with Franklin.

King: Did you choose the song?

Franklin: Yes, I did.

King: Is that a tough song to sing?

Franklin: No, not at all, but (Tuesday) it was. Mainly because of the temperature outside. I don’t have to tell you, it was freezing, if you were there. Some singers it doesn’t bother, and others it does. I don’t care for it. It affected my voice.

And more…

King: One thing, with your magnificent voice, is it hard to sing outdoors?

Franklin: It depends on the temperature. Yesterday, Mother Nature was not very kind to me. I’m going to deal with her when I get home. It, by no means, was my standard. I was not happy with it, but I just feel blessed because it could have been five above zero or five below zero like it is in Detroit. I was still blessed to be able to pretty much just sing the melody, but I wasn’t happy with it, of course.

I’m skeptical of this at best. I’ve seen a number of singers perform The Star Spangled Banner at outdoor sporting events where the temperature was near or below freezing without apparent trouble. It’s not the same song, or the same singer, but I’m more inclined to believe that it was just a poor performance (even the best singers have them) over the weather.

<br /> Something about responsibility?

8 Responses

  1. Aretha’s run out of gas. Her Christmas album this year sucked: we were all joking at my part-time job that if we wanted to clear customers out quickly, we should play it over the speakers.

    As great as she’s been, if her career really is taking a slide you’d kinda wish she’d stop before it gets worse. I must admit to not having heard the Christmas album, but I also prefer the old classics to new reprisals.

  2. Don’t get me wrong, I love Aretha, but I can think of a half dozen other singers who could have done that song better. She started off well, but quickly went downhill.

    I’m with you. Aretha is one of the greats, but after the first few lines (excepting the bit on The Daily Show where they played just the first two syllables of the song) it really was downhill from there.

  3. Blaming it on the weather is a poor excuse. I’m a singer and have done a number of cold, outdoors events. If you have warmed up properly, the weather shouldn’t be a factor. Blaming it on emotions would have been a better excuse.

    Too true. Nobody would’ve faulted her if she’d said that, given the gravity of the moment and its impact on history, singing that song on that stage with the entire nation watching did a number on her. I’m sure she would not have been the only one.

  4. Oh, come on, she’s like ninety! Show a little R-E-S…

    Okay, not even I’M corny enough to go there.

    Don’t lie. You are corny enough.

  5. Hmm. Andrew, who was with us at Inauguration and who has been a (a cappella, ha) singer for a long time told me that day that singing in cold weather is quite difficult.

    I find singing difficult all the time.

    A of all, you’re coming karaoke singing with us next time. B of all, I don’t doubt that singing in the cold is harder than other climates. I do doubt that it was the reason for poor performance.

  6. im with lilu… she is old!! even ole blue eyes voice was shaky at the end… and yeah the cold is a complete factor..
    I was awed that the cellist and violinist had instruments in that weather…how did they do that???

    I don’t know whether they did or did not have these, but would it not have been conceivable to conceal heating lamps up there?

  7. Why are people going after Aretha’s crown? It looked like a typical church hat to me.

    Her pipes weren’t great, but she is older and packing weight which has to affect her respiratory system. I thought it sounded “real”, and I don’t care what Aretha is singing,the woman knows how to emote.

  8. You know I agreed with you. She was just running out of steam. I think there’s something about her presence which alone is powerful, but it definitely sadly wasn’t her voice on this occasion that was pulling the weight here.

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