Mudcat Café message #3944408 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #164706   Message #3944408
Posted By: GUEST,keberoxu
16-Aug-18 - 01:28 PM
Thread Name: Obit: Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)
Subject: RE: Obit: Aretha
There is so much here.

Besides the great artist, a human being with a difficult, complex itinerary of a personal life. When there was a fire at her home, just within the last ten years (footage of an aerial shot of the house, with flames shooting out of it, on the evening news), the fire was put out, the investigation reached a conclusion of arson, and then the investigation, as though it were itself a fire, was extinguished.

There were murmurs about one of her oldest sons, the ones who were born when she was no more than a teenager. She kept silence on the identity of their biological father.

Aretha Franklin grew up entirely too fast, and entered the music business too young. Against all odds, she did more than survive. She did battle with no less than producer John Hammond, who had a musical pigeonhole all ready to coop her up in.

Her hit-making producer, Jerry Wexler, labeled her "Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows," noting not only her mettlesome temper but the deep well of sadness beneath it.


The personal burden -- call it karma, if you care to -- that she carried throughout her life, was a heavy one, and the carrying of it did much to isolate her from others. It was her choice not to break the silence, but to hold her head high and maintain a larger-than-life public image. Who can pronounce judgment on her for this choice? How would any of us choose if we were in her place?   

It was her personal choice, as well, not to confirm the comments about pancreatic cancer; this diagnosis has been talked about for years and years now, but not by her. That particular form of cancer is something I am too accustomed to seeing in African-Americans in particular, and musicians of stature have succumbed to it before: Dizzy Gillespie, Betty Carter (another Michigan native).

Today I realize that I have been mourning Aretha Franklin a long time before she finished living.
Personally I have grieved for her consistently over recent years, watching her physical decline, observing the tragedy of the death of Whitney Houston who was so much younger than Ms. Franklin. Whitney Houston who was somehow expected to embody both Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin simultaneously, who also came up in the church, who also had a record producer to whom she referred as "my Svengali."

It hurt me inside, not so long ago, to observe the mass media coverage of Whitney Houston's funeral, from which Aretha Franklin wisely kept a respectful distance. Now the memorials and services will begin for Ms. Franklin, and for my own peace of mind, I will have to step 'way back and screen the news reports. I choose to focus on the fact that Ms. Franklin completed her mission on this earth and has now been 'graduated,' as a great-aunt of mine liked to say. Her suffering is over and she is relieved of a burden most of us cannot imagine carrying.

Thanks for letting me open my heart here.