28 Songs that Changed My Life: Aretha Franklin, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (10 of 28)

Penned by the incredible Carole King and her husband, Gerry Goffin, this is one of those old classics that I’d have scoffed at in my youth. Too much shmaltz, too much romance, too much like the music my mother liked. I wanted something edgy and challenging, right?

But a funny thing happened on the way to adulthood: One day I found a cassette of Aretha Franklin’s greatest hits. I have no recollection of where it came from or where I got it, but in a fit of boredom and curiosity, I gave it a spin and decided to pretend I was into it.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: That voice. That voice.

WOW. How had I not sat up and paid attention before? The utter POWER and passion in Aretha’s voice is one of the great wonders of the world. Much as I love Carole King’s own version of this song — her album Tapestry is a masterpiece — this is Aretha’s song.

Truly hearing this for the first time, actually hearing it, didn’t merely make me a fan of Franklin’s work (and it did), it made me realize there was a whole world of soul music out there waiting to be explored; powerful, passionate music sung by people with voices that sounded like something from another world.

And that was an exciting prospect.