By the release 1964’s Runnin’ Out Of Fools, Aretha Franklin’s run at Columbia Records was proving to be fruitless in her desire to reach stardom. The album was her sixth on the label in barely 4 years, and the hits weren’t coming. What to do? Cover the hits!
Though the album’s predecessor Unforgettable: A Tribute To Dinah Washington was all covers, it was a passion project to pay homage to one of Aretha’s idols, who had just passed away. Otherwise, many of Aretha’s albums were a mix of covers and originals. Runnin’ Out Of Fools relies heavily on covers, including “Every Little Bit Hurts”.
Mark Bego saw this as an obvious plan in his book, Aretha Franklin: The Queen Of Soul. His perspective on the scenario was: “Immerse Aretha in the compositions of the contemporary pop charts, get her into the mood by recording her own versions of the songs, and complete the album with a handful of originals cut from the same cloth.” While the plan proved to be futile, Aretha delivered some great cuts on the album.
Of course, Aretha sings the hell out of “Every Little Bit Hurts”, as she always did any song. The arrangement is strikingly similar to Brenda Holloway’s original, but that was intentional. She’s even somewhat reserved in her delivery, although naturally she does a few little things that subtly hint at the power she could put into it, especially in the final climax of the song. Even though this route didn’t work for Aretha commercially, cuts like this further proved that she had the chops to sing anything.
Listen to Aretha cover “Every Little Bit Hurts”:
“Aretha Sings The Blues.” Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul, by Mark Bego, Da Capo Press, 2001, pp. 65–69.