“You Made Me Love You” occupies an interesting place in the catalog of Aretha Franklin. It was recorded twice during her foundational years at Columbia Records: First she recorded it in 1962 on her sophomore LP The Electrifying Aretha Franklin. Then it was recorded again and issued on 1966’s Soul Sister LP. The contrast between the two recordings beyond their differing arrangements is striking for the way Aretha’s voice changed.
First, a little history. The song is another Aretha cover made popular by Judy Garland and introduced by Al Jolsen. Bing Crosby recorded a popular version in 1940, and Harry James found popularity with an instrumental version in 1941. Judy’s version transformed the song into a love letter to Clark Gable, with extensive spoken-word interludes. What gave it further power and reach was its placement as the b-side to “Over The Rainbow”.
Aretha approaches her initial version of “You Made Me Love You” in a laid back fashion, opening 1962’s The Electrifying Aretha Franklin LP with her interpretation. The arrangement is jazzy and pop oriented, with a prominent trumpet part and electric guitar chords. The strings fill the background to create a lush ambiance. Even this early in her career, she delays and bends her phrases to make her delivery uniquely Aretha. And at just 22, she demonstrates her intense vocal power on the line “that I would lay down and die for”, unleashing a near-scream of a note amongst a sea of rather subdued other notes. It shows immense power, but room to further develop her control when reaching for those power-play notes.
The version that appears on 1966’s Soul Sister was one of Aretha’s last recordings for Columbia Records. It was cut on October 12, 1965, during her final known session. This version has more pep, lending a big band arrangement with a cabaret-style closer to the song. This one swings like much of The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging Aretha Franklin. Mark Bego makes a great observation when comparing the two versions in his book The Queen Of Soul: “it is clear that (the Soul Sister version) takes a much more mature approach to the song. In playing these songs back to back, it is fascinating to see how Aretha’s voice deepened and gained expressive character in four years’ time. (Bego 73)”. The version on Soul Sister also showcases her developing vocal control. Instead of reaching for a note that could crack her voice like on The Electrifying Aretha Franklin, she relies on the strength of her mid-range/upper chest/lower throat voice to convey her message on the ”lay down and die for” line. There’s also a background part that not only reinforces Aretha’s but also fills out the record masterfully.
Listen to both versions of “You Made Me Love You”:
Bego, Mark. The Queen Of Soul. “Aretha Sings The Blues.” Pp. 73.