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Simply timeless. Technically the great Otis Redding wrote and released this one first in 1965, but Franklin owned it forevermore as soon as she covered it two years later. Her force-of-nature performance made ''Respect'' not only her signature hit, but a defining song for the emerging feminist and civil rights movements.
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''(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman'' (1967)
This love song, penned by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, is an ideal showcase for Franklin's subtly expressive voice. She's vulnerable at first (''Looking out on the morning rain, I used to feel so uninspired''), grows more passionate as she thinks of her beloved (''You're the key to my peace of mind''), and bursts out in pure ecstasy on the title line.
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''Chain of Fools'' (1967)
She starts off chastising an ex who was dumb enough to ditch her, but by halfway through the song she's only mad at herself: ''You told me to leave you alone/My father said, 'Come on home'/My doctor said, 'Take it easy'/Oh, but your loving is much too strong.'' That relatably complex sentiment, plus a very memorable ''chain-chain-chain'' refrain, place this among her most enduring hits.
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''I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)'' (1967)
Before ''Respect'' cemented her stardom, Franklin scored on the charts with this low-key stunner. Addressing a ''no-good heartbreaker'' she can't quite shake, she holds the listener's attention throughout -- in part by knowing when to let her backing brass section do the talking.
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''Baby I Love You'' (1967)
Grooving happily over a cheerful instrumental, Franklin turns a simple sentence of endearment (''Ain't no doubt about it, baby, I love you'') into an absolutely irresistible jam.
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''Do Right Woman, Do Right Man'' (1967)
''If you want a do-right-all-day woman/You've got to be a do-right-all-night man,'' sings Franklin. In its way, this simple request for dignity and devotion is every bit as effective as the far more famous ''Respect.''
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This uptempo tune's first hook (''You'd better think/Think about what you're trying to do to me'') probably would have been catchy enough to make it yet another hit, but the part right after that, when she demands ''Freeeeedom!'', sends it straight into the stratosphere.
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''I Say A Little Prayer'' (1968)
Dionne Warwick's pristine original recording is arguably the definitive version of this Burt Bacharach/Hal David ballad, but Franklin gave her a serious run for her money with her earthier, more deeply felt rendition. Over 40 years later, the ''Who sang it better?'' debates rage on.
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''(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone'' (1968)
By her second year of mainstream fame, Franklin could do no wrong. The songwriting here might not be quite as substantial as it was on some of the other tunes she released around this time, but she sells it with her unstoppably emphatic delivery.
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''Eleanor Rigby'' (1969)
Franklin inverted each element of the Beatles' 1966 original for her cover. In place of their mournful classical strings is a barrelling piano rhythm, and where Paul McCartney's lyrics had observed an unloved stranger from a distance, she moved right in and took on the sad old woman's perspective as her own. ''I'm Eleanor Rigby,'' she sang with something like joy. ''I pick up the rice in the church where the weddings have been.'' A counterintuitive work of genius.
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''Call Me'' (1970)
A song for anybody who's ever missed a loved one: ''It really doesn't hurt me that bad,'' Franklin sings over a languid backdrop, ''because you're taking me with you/And I'm keeping you right here in my heart.'' And we'll always keep her in ours.
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''Rock Steady'' (1971)
Music was changing as the '60s became the '70s, and Franklin kept up without missing a beat. This in-the-pocket groove stands as three of the funkiest minutes ever committed to tape. It was later sampled by hip-hop acts like EPMD and Public Enemy, taking Franklin into yet another decade and genre.
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''Bridge Over Troubled Water'' (1971)
Songwriters could hope for few greater honors than to have Franklin cover one of their compositions. She proved her interpretive brilliance once more by transforming Simon & Garfunkel's stately folk-rock tune into a moving secular hymn, full of soul in all senses of the word.
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''Spanish Harlem'' (1971)
Yet another example of Franklin's Midas touch: Eleven years after Ben E. King made this song a hit, she made it an even bigger hit with this sped-up, rhythmic version. Her career's momentum would slow down soon, but not just yet.
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''Break It To Me Gently'' (1977)
This heartfelt ballad fizzled on the pop charts, at least in comparison to her earlier smashes, and it's rarely mentioned today. But her heavenly lead vocals — and her successful turn toward disco in the song's final third — make it worth remembering.
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''Freeway of Love'' (1985)
Franklin mounted a major comeback in the '80s. Exhibit A: This bouncy hit, which proved that her voice sounded just as great as ever over Reagan-era synthesizers and drum machines. And oh, that saxophone part!
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''Who's Zoomin' Who'' (1985)
Franklin's '80s-cheese era continued with another solid hit single. The title question is her way of telling an overconfident player that she's turned the tables on him. Once you hear it, it'll be stuck in your head for days.
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''Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves'' (1985)
She teamed with Eurythmics for this empowering anthem, declaring, ''We're coming out of the kitchen, 'cause there's something we forgot to say to you!'' The song's themes resonated with a new generation of feminists and brought her full circle.
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''I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)'' (1987)
Franklin stayed current by joining forces with longtime admirer George Michael for this fun duet. The result was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
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''A Rose Is Still A Rose'' (1998)
One of Franklin's last chart successes was this hip-hop-soul jam, written for her by a peak-powers Lauryn Hill. The title affirmation rang true: All those years after her talent first attracted widespread notice, the Queen showed she definitely still had it.