The title track for Aretha Franklin’s ill-fated 1977 album Sweet Passion is a saga. It’s one of 4 self-penned cuts on the album With Aretha running the show at the piano, she exerts a notable amount of control, but not too much. It’s a song about longing and, you guessed it, passion.
Aretha really gels with this track. Over the nearly 2-minute introduction as the various intr she issues a spoken word declaration “There comes a time in every woman’s life, when she meets that special someone, and he makes her feel like a woman. Ow!… and he awakens all of the fire. Sweet Passion.”
There’s repetition throughout the song, but no defined chorus or verse. It’s not confined to a traditional verse/chorus-based structure that many of her hits abide by. Throughout the song there are chords that punctuate certain lines, ending with an order of “hold me” which can range from a suggestion to a declarative order. Elsewhere, Aretha’s tone is diversifies further: she jumps from yearning, to encouraging, all the way back to desiring.
As the little bit of structure of the 7+ minute track breaks down and draws to a close, Aretha rides out the beat, vibing and vamping as she issues sporadic runs and varied cries of “passion” and “sweet passion”. It may not have struck gold commercially, but there’s no absence of soul here, not even for a second.
This is one the songs that is only available on vinyl, 8-track, and cassette. Unfortunately, the version that exists on YouTube was ripped from a record that has a lot of feedback, pops, and cracks. So instead, here’s a version I have that’s much better quality. Why isn’t Sweet Passion streaming, you ask? Aretha owned the masters to Sweet Passion and 4 other albums from the 70’s. The albums were never reissued after their initial pressing, though bootleg of the album was issued on cd in Europe in 2008.
Stream Aretha’s “Sweet Passion” below: