Aretha Franklin

Do Right Woman, Do Right Man

Song Review by

It's almost always interesting to hear a songwriter perform songs that were made famous by others. Hoagy Carmichael's and Johnny Mercer's versions of their own standards come to mind. But to hear Dan Penn do his rendition of his song "Do Right Woman Do Right Man" on his 1994 collection Do Right Man is to hear a high-caliber soul singer in his own right, revealing his own emotional nuances in his own song. Penn was a teenager with aspirations to be an R&B singer -- patterned on his heroes like Bobby "Blue" Bland and Sam Cooke -- when he arrived in Muscle Shoals, AL, in the late '50s. Working at legendary Fame studios there and later in studios throughout Memphis, he eventually became one of the era's most influential songwriters and producers. Along with another young white producer/writer, Chips Moman, he wrote some classic soul numbers, including "Do Right Woman Do Right Man." The theme of "Do Right Woman Do Right Man" is the power of temptation vis-à-vis the rewards of fidelity. Its message and soothing melody seem to bring out the soul in singers, even those as white-bread as Joan Baez, who recorded an Aretha Franklin-inspired version of it in 1988. Franklin made the song famous on her 1967 record I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You). Penn's own version of "Do Right Woman Do Right Man" notwithstanding, no other recording of this classic -- from Etta James' to Willie Nelson's -- holds a candle to Franklin's. Though she could probably sing the phone book and make it groove, Franklin is the kind of vocalist who seems like she would not sing a song if she does not feel it 100 percent. She starts "Do Right Woman Do Right Man" with a gospel feel, as if she was actually in church preaching (her father was in fact a famous preacher), then builds it through the song's bridge, by which time it feels like an anthem for the times, on par with her hit "Respect" -- another song she "stole," or so its original singer and author Otis Redding once flatteringly claimed. The Flying Burrito Brothers had the right idea to steer clear of the Franklin territory and gave their own unique twist on "Do Right Woman Do Right Man" in 1969, a breezy country-soul waltz reading that demonstrated the multiple levels within the song and led to other recordings of it by country artists like Kitty Wells and Barbara Mandrell.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You 1967 Atlantic & Atco Remasters / Rhino 3:16
Aretha's Gold 1969 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 3:17
Aretha's Greatest Hits 1971 Rhino / Atlantic
The Best of Aretha Franklin 1984 Rhino / Atlantic 0:00
30 Greatest Hits 1985 Atlantic 3:15
Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974, Vol. 6 (1966-1969) 1985
Various Artists
Atlantic 0:00
Classic Rock: On the Soul Side 1990
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:17
Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 [Box] 1991
Various Artists
Atlantic 3:16
The Commitments (Original Artists Recordings of Featured Music) 1991
Various Artists
Atco 3:17
Queen of Soul: The Atlantic Recordings 1992 Rhino 3:13
Chain of Fools 1993 JDC Records / Rhino 3:16
Slow Jams: The '60s, Vol. 1 1993
Various Artists
The Right Stuff 3:16
The Very Best of Aretha Franklin, Vol. 1 1994 Rhino 3:15
The R&B Box: 30 Years of Rhythm & Blues 1994
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Bros.
Global Divas 1995
Various Artists
Rounder 3:13
Dead Presidents 1995
Original Soundtrack
Capitol / EMI Records 3:15
Go Girl!: Soul Sisters Tellin' It Like It Is 1996
Various Artists
Rhino 3:14
Kings & Queens of Soul 1997
Various Artists
Rhino Flashback 0:00
Respect & Other Hits 1997 Rhino 3:18
Aretha's Best 2001 Rhino 3:16
3 for 1 Box Set 2001 WEA International 3:16
Best of Aretha Franklin [BMG International] 2002 Global TV 3:14
Respect: The Very Best of Aretha Franklin [Warner] 2002 Warner Elektra Atlantic Corp. / Warner Music 0:00
Natural Woman [Brentwood] 2005 ARM (Association Of Recorded Music) / Brentwood Records 3:16
Legends of Soul: Very Best of Aretha Franklin & Otis Redding 2005 WEA 3:12
Artist's Choice: Elvis Costello 2005 Universal Special Products 3:16
Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974, Vol. 6: 1965-1967 2006
Various Artists
WEA International 3:17
Atlantic R&B Box Set 2006
Various Artists
WEA International 3:17
Queen of Soul: The Best of Aretha Franklin 2007 WEA 3:13
The Platinum Collection 2007 Warner Platinum 3:13
Atlantic Top 60: Sweat-Soaked Soul Classics 2007
Various Artists
Atlantic / Rhino 3:18
Soul Queen 2007 Atlantic / Rhino 3:18
Take Me to the River: A Southern Soul Story 1961-1977 2008
Various Artists
Kent Soul 3:17
Rhino Classic Albums Collection [f.y.e. Exclusive] 2009 Rhino 3:16
Original Album Series 2010 Warner Bros. 3:17
The Queen of Soul [Rhino 2014] 2014 Atlantic / Rhino 3:18
The Atlantic Albums Collection 2015 Atlantic / Rhino 3:16
The Atlantic Singles Collection, 1967-1970 2018 Atlantic / Rhino 3:15
The Queen of Soul [Rhino 2018] 2018 Atlantic / Rhino
No Image
Various Artists
Capitol 3:15