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  • Writer's pictureDan Koh

"love & its opposite"

quick note in praise of a song that's been on my mind recently, Aretha Franklin's "Angel" (1973). i admire, so much, its balance of pure pain and pure grace: how her howl of "there's no misery / like the misery i feel in me" is counterweighted, and softened, by the chorus of back-up singers, like voices of comfort, like the aunties who will be there for you in times of need, like the words we speak to ourselves: "(you'll meet him / now don't you worry / keep lookin' / and just keeping cookin' / he'll be there / now don't you worry)".

to anyone out there who has been seeking for love for so long, whose "heart is without a home": it will come, and you know what? even if it doesn't, you will be alright, because you love yourself.

the fact that Aretha's sister, Carolyn, cowrote this number of faith and devotion, simply doubles my love of it. Aretha references her conversation with Carolyn in her spoken-world introduction—"'Aretha, come back when you can / i got something that i wanna say' / ...she said, 'you know? / rather than go through a long, drawn-out thing / i think the melody on the box will help me explain'". how beautiful a sentiment, because, you know, there's so much that's better left unspoken, better felt than said, better implied than imposed, which also says so much about family relations, no?

it's an effortlessly transcendental song, in the way only Black pain and Black soul can convey. i treasure it so much.

FOTO: Jan Persson/Redferns/Getty Images


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