This ebook is about Aretha Franklin’s album I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You, mostly focused on the song by the same name.
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
Aretha Franklin’s tenth studio album, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, which helped to define her as the “Queen of Soul,” was released in 1967 by Atlantic Records. It hit number 2 on the Billboard album chart and number 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B Selling chart. Much more recently, it ranked number 13 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2020 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time!
The song by the same name as the album “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” was her first truly big hit.
About Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin was born in 1942 and raised by her father, a Baptist preacher. Her mother was a piano player and vocalist, but separated from her father and then died early in Aretha’s life. Aretha grew up singing gospel at the church. She learned to play piano by ear as a child and attended public schools while women of the family helped out with raising the children after her mother’s death. She dropped out of school in her sophomore year of high school. Her father, almost a celebrity, was visited by famous figures while Aretha grew up.
She started her secular music career at the age of 18, first signing with Columbia Records, but her first big hit was after she signed with Atlantic Records in 1966 — the song “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” (1967).
Importance of the Song
A huge success, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” was very influential in R&B, soul, pop, and rock and roll.
The album was released during an important time for civil rights, but this song specifically was more focused on the struggles she went through as an African American woman and contributed to women’s empowerment.
Let’s listen to the song!
You're a no good heartbreaker You're a liar and you're a cheat And I don't know why I let you do these things to me My friends keep telling me That you ain't no good But they don't know That I'd leave you if I could I guess I'm uptight And I'm stuck like glue 'Cause I ain't never I ain't never, I ain't never, no, no, loved a man The way that I, I love you Some time ago I thought You had run out of fools But I was so wrong You got one that you'll never lose The way you treat me is a shame How could you hurt me so bad? Baby, you know that I'm the best thing That you ever had Kiss me once again Don't you never, never say that we're through 'Cause I ain't never Never, never, no, no, loved a man The way that I, I love you I can't sleep at night And I can't even fight I guess I'll never be free Since you got, your hooks in me Whoa, oh, oh Yeah Yeah I ain't never loved a man I ain't never loved a man, baby Ain't never had a man hurt me so bad No Well this is what I'm gonna do about it
About The Song
To begin the process, Aretha was told to simply sing and play the piano. And as soon as she started, producer Jerry Wexler could tell it was going to be a hit.
Aretha’s vocals and piano playing are the stars of all the songs on this album, and “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” can be listened to as a climax point. She conveys what could seem to be contradictory feelings of attraction to an abusive man, but from how she sings — changing her voice and volume at different parts — one can really feel, understand, and empathize or sympathize with the emotions behind the song.
Structure of the Song
A lot of basic techniques of repetition and personal first person lyrics directed at a specific person make up this song and help create very raw feelings.
The lyrics frequently alternate between pointing out the negatives about the relationship with this man (“You’re a no good heartbreaker”, “How could you hurt me so bad?”, “I guess I’ll never be free”, etc.) and the love, attraction, and submission to the man’s behavior (“I let you do these things to me”, “I ain’t never loved a man the way I love you”, “Kiss me once again”, “Since you got, your hooks in me”, etc.). This heavily emphasizes the main idea of the song — the seemingly illogical draw the man has on her.
Another Song from the Album – “Respect”
The producer, Wexler, thought this song by Otis Redding would allow Aretha’s talents to shine, and they did.
She transformed the song into something recognizable but very much her own, and arguably her version is better than Redding’s.
Changing the song to a woman’s perspective, Aretha added an emphasis on financial equity in the lyrics of the song.
Another one of the major changes is when she spells out the word R-E-S-P-E-C-T, a suggestion made by her sister Carolyn Franklin (who also did background vocals and helped to write some of the other songs in the album).
First let’s hear Redding’s version, and then compare it to Franklin’s!
Mitch Miller’s Interesting Role
Aretha Franklin spent many years signed to Columbia Records, never reaching much success despite putting out several albums. She wasn’t able to let out and develop her true self into the music. The length of time she spent with Columbia during her early career and her eventual huge success as a musician add to her unique role in the music world.
Mitch Miller was the head of Columbia Records while Aretha was signed. Miller was against rock and roll, and he passed on some artists who went on to become highly successful – Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, the Beatles!
This album and song were the marking point of Aretha Franklin becoming “the Queen of Soul” and impactful artist that she was during her lifetime and continues to be, decades after her hits came out. After this album, Franklin released more albums and songs with continued success. She died in 2018, not only a prominent musical figure but a prominent figure for civil rights and women’s rights.
Aretha's Greatest Albums: 'I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You' (1967) - Rolling Stone The Story of Aretha Franklin 'I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You' and 'Lady Soul' | Classic Album Sundays Classic Album: Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You | Features | Clash Magazine Revisiting Aretha Franklin’s ‘I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You’ (1967) | Retrospective Tribute Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You – Classic Music Review | altrockchick Mitch Miller - Wikipedia I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You - Wikipedia Aretha Franklin - Wikipedia