We watched the inauguration today with some of our new international friends, and one of them surprised us all — he had never heard of Aretha Franklin.
It was a good lesson. Our country is so important, and our culture pushes so deep into every corner of the world, that we forget not everyone knows everything about us. There are lots of people around the globe who live rich and fulfilling lives despite never having heard of the Dallas Cowboys or “30 Rock” or Stephen King.
Having said that, our lives would all be richer with more Aretha in them.
As soon as CNN called the election for Obama, I suspect Aretha started expecting the call from the White House. She was the only possible choice to sing at the inauguration for the first black president. If Ray Charles had been alive, maybe. James Brown… too many troubles there at the end. Al Green… almost, but not quite.
I could write a million words about Aretha, but all I’ll say for now is that no one has ever been better at making music that stayed out all Saturday night and still went to church on Sunday morning.
It’s going to be an interesting four years. A new president, and a country that just elected a new president, both need a lot of strong character traits. It probably doesn’t hurt if one of them is soul.
God bless America and let the Queen of Soul take us home.