By Chris Schonberger
Updated June 14, 2007 at 12:00 PM EDT

Find out what it meansto me
Sumthin’ sumthin’, ABC…

It’s been 40 years since the release of Aretha Franklin’s revolutionaryrecording of “Respect,” and clowns like me are still firing it up at karaokebars, butchering the last few words of the hook, and loving every second of it.After tearing down racial and gender barriers in its own time, thesong has transcended generations gap by storm as well; these days it crops upeverywhere from American Idol performances to bar mitzvahs.

To commemorate this pop culture phenomenon, the Detroit Free Press has put together agreat multimedia package celebrating Sista Re and the song that propelled herto international fame. The feature offers a glimpse of her church singingbackground and the political climate surrounding the release of “Respect,”providing some interesting anecdotes and tidbits along the way — the story ofhow Aretha actually took the song from Otis Redding and flipped it for theladies, her son’s account of the cold she was fighting during the original recording,and a little visual aid to help out with that elusive last line. (It’s “Take care,TCB” — Take Care of Business, an acronym that has somehow failed to experience a renaissance in the age of AIM.)There are also some interviews with artists and Detroit personalities, as well as a chance to share your own rendition of “Respect” —or, apparently, any song you feel like singing.

Even though wanting “a little respect” is (sadly)a timeless sentiment, it’s pretty amazing that a song so emblematic of aspecific political moment still has the catchiness to remain forever in style. The song’s durability is antitheticalto the flash-in-the-pan, disposable qualities we’ve come to expect from pop culture, especially pop music. That got me thinking: Are there any songs from the past 10or 15 years that one could imagine having this sort of legacy? Also, do any of you have anyparticularly memorable encounters with “Respect” that you’d like to share?

addCredit(“Aretha Franklin: Express Newspapers/Getty Images”)