Today, the world lost a legend of the music world, as Aretha Franklin passed away at the age of 76.
They called her the Queen of Soul and with good reason.
Not only did she sing countless mainstream hits such as “Respect” and “Natural Woman,” she touched the entire world with the beauty and grace of her voice.
Several years ago when she was on tour, I had tickets to see her and the show ended up being canceled.
I had tickets to see her again a few months ago and that show was canceled, too.
Now, unfortunately, I will never get the chance to see the Queen live.
Interestingly enough, Aretha Franlin was on my mind recently when I overheard a heated political argument between two strangers.
I didn’t know these two people and had no idea how they knew each other, but the discussion was so intense that I had to walk away from the area for fear that violence was going to erupt.
I honestly don’t even remember the specifics of the argument other than I heard the words “Donald Trump” and “Russia” at some point.
So why did this make me think of Aretha Franklin?
Because I remember a similar heated debate between two people I actually do know — two dear friends of mine — during the Clinton impeachment years ago.
One of them was insistent that Clinton be removed from office while the other shouted that the whole thing was a right-wing conspiracy.
I remember things seeming like they might get out of control when the Aretha Franklin song, “Chain of Fools” began playing on the radio and everybody just stopped to listen.
Granted, it was only for a few minutes, but those few minutes of ceasefire were a mighty splendid thing.
Some point later that day my friends went back to arguing, but those few minutes of Aretha Franlin music really mellowed a situation that seemed like it was about to get very ugly.
If you think about it, that’s the true beauty of music: if a song is good, it doesn’t matter who you are.
You could be any race, gender, sexual orientation or religion and have at least a brief moment of common ground with somebody you might otherwise want to spend your day screaming at.
I thought about that today when I read the news that Aretha Franklin had passed away.
I thought about how much I wished more people would think about what they have in common rather than fighting over what divides them.
And I thought about how much we could use Aretha Franklin’s beautiful, soulful voice to help people mellow out — if only for a few minutes — and remember that just because you may disagree with somebody, it doesn’t make that person evil.
You never know, that person may even like the same Aretha Franklin song as you!
As somebody who lived through most of her prime singing years and saw the power of her musical brilliance, I can say with absolute certainty that the world will miss her terribly.
Goodnight, sweet Queen.
Tonight, we will all “Say A Little Prayer” in your honor.