Aretha gave jazz standard “Crazy He Calls Me” a chill, yet soulful makeover on Soul ‘69. Aretha’s version naturally leans into the aforementioned soul realm, because her vocal that stamps soul onto this standard. Musically though, Aretha’s take on “Crazy He Calls Me” is straight jazz. It’s a chill jazz arrangement.
Aretha’s version was prefaced by numerous giants of jazz, pop, and blues. Billie Holliday’s version is perhaps the best known. Beyond Billie there are versions by Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn, Sam Cooke, Anita O’Day, Jackie Wilson, and Dinah Washington. Though, in true Aretha fashion, none of these versions seem to serve as influence for the chart applied to Aretha’s version.
Sitting at the piano once again for this one, she barely sings a line straight. She fidgets with the timing, delivery, notes, and even lyrics. Her delivery after “I say I’ll go through fire”, for example. She half speaks, “yes, and I will kill fire”, with a particular conviction as if to say “you bet I will kill fire and that ain’t even a thing to me”. And there’s no question that she meant it.
Listen to “Crazy He Calls Me”