Saturday, 1 February 2014

You better think (think) think about what you're trying to do to me. . .

The unmistakeable opening piano riff sets the scene before the horn section blares with Aretha's soaring vocals rising above the accompaniment.  Aretha Franklin's "Think" was my theme song for last week.  I came across quite a few situations where people needed to be self-aware (including myself) about actions that we take or words that we speak that can impact negatively on others.

It can sadden me sometimes when people look at me and think that because I'm brown that I must therefore be a beneficiary or unemployed (I wear casual clothes sometimes, it doesn't mean I'm homeless either) but there's nothing wrong with being a beneficiary or being unemployed - because if you wanted to know details, you could ask the person (if you're game) instead of making assumptions and twisting your face into that dismissive look that tells me I'm not a human being.

The song lyrics for "Think" on the surface suggest that Aretha is addressing a former partner who she is contemplating leaving or has left, because of how he has mistreated her, not valuing her as a woman and treating her like she is not his equal because he thinks he's better than her (she sings about not having a high IQ or any degrees maybe in comparison to him, but in fact she recognises that she doesn't need them in order to see what he's doing to her).

I love the background vocals with the call and response section with Aretha, punctuating the "freedom" section with the layered harmonies.  The key change also signals a change in gear in the momentum of the song and also signals an imminent climax and ending to the song.  The elation that is heard in the way she sings the "freedom" section signals the sense of freedom in being free from the bondage of the relationship, being the inferior or lesser half of the relationship and to me it also signals the black aspiration for freedom in America at the time of the release of this song.  Lyndon B. Johnson was present and as much as he had helped to win major civil rights legislation, he also expanded America's involvement and presence in Vietnam.  Her performance of "Think" in the classic "Blues Brothers" is my favourite performance.  The lyrics that provide a caveat I think for those times in the late 60s, and even more so now can be found in:

People walkin' around everyday
Playin' games and takin' scores
Tryin' to make other people lose their minds
Well be careful you don't lose yours

Well, I guess you better think (think) about what you're trying to do to yourself and to others around you.