Sunday, October 17, 2021

1967: Aretha Franklin Went Up; John McCain Went Down

john mccain - aretha franklin

*My pre-scheduled book signing in Detroit for my new book titled “Book To The Future” just happened to coincide with the weekend of the unprecedented funeral service (some nine plus hours) of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin.

When I got to my destination Friday morning on August 31st from Metro Airport, Franklin’s telecast funeral service was just getting underway. I spent the whole day with family and friends glued to the TV. My daughter Phylecia Wilson – a videographer for the City of Detroit – was there at the funeral the whole time; we were texting each other.

I usually don’t feel compelled to write about celebrities/dignitaries whose stories command excessive and redundant multi-media coverage. I don’t want to report what’s already known and written. It’s only when I see something in their stories that perhaps may be overlooked that I’m inspired to write about. In this case, it was the funerals of the meteoric rise (or media rise) of Franklin and Senator John McCain.

It all happened in the year 1967: Franklin’s star began to rise with the release of the song “Never Loved A Man The Way That I Love You;” then orbited with her signature chart-topping “Respect” by the end of summer of that year.

john mccain1

A few months later, Navy pilot John McCain made the front page of every major American newspaper when his A-4E Skyhawk was shot down and he was captured by the North Vietnamese. Records show he was imprisoned as a prisoner of war (POW) October 26, 1967. It was that year: Franklin went up; McCain went down.

aretha franklin - lavendar blue

While Franklin’s homegoing celebration was very spirited – a reflection of her spiritual Baptist upbringing, her personal life was very private and somewhat stoic. Conversely, McCain’s Episcopalian homegoing was more stoic (with the exception of the emotional reflections by his daughter Meaghan, and the spirit of the musical selections), but his life was open and spirited as indicated by reflections of former presidents George Bush and Barack Obama among others.

Well, I’m glad I was here in Detroit to share in the celebration of “The Queen’s” homegoing. My book signing took place at the Historic Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church where Dr. Charles “Jim” Holley is pastor. He was one of the platform clergy and speakers at Franklin’s funeral. If you recall during the telecast, he announced that someone had misplaced his notes so he spoke on the cuff from memory. At church on Sunday, he read his intended remarks in their entirety, and they were beautiful; fit for a queen!

On Saturday September 1st I watched the telecast of McCain’s service in D.C. and was just as moved in a different way by his record of service to our country and to the world. Both he and Franklin were two dedicated American heroes!

Of the Franklin processional with the classic hearse and all the pink Cadillacs, hotel employee Shea, who watched from curbside said, “I have never seen anything so awesome and magnificent!”

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