Etta James was a soul singer with an earthy and mighty voice, and the penchant for delivering heart-wrenching ballads. Through her music, Etta taught us a thing or two about love and romance; that intimacy takes trust, that relationships can end seemingly out of nowhere, and that sometimes two people are just never going to agree on the “truth.” As an early vocal feminist, she taught men that women deserve respect and aren’t just toys for their amusement. When it comes to relationships, Etta James got it. For better or worse, in heartache or the blissful fog of love, Etta told stories from the soul and advised even the best at romance.
Here are some of her best offerings in the love department.
“A Sunday Kind of Love”
You know the feeling when you’ve had enough of the Saturday night flings and are looking for something real? Something to carry you into the next day where morning sun and cozy Sundays bloom under the sprinkle of continued adoration? A love to make your drab weekdays a little brighter and your struggles a little lighter? That’s what Etta’s after here. Calling “BS” on the party night thrills, she knows that the more meaningful connections are where it’s at.
“Trust In Me”
When you know the one you love is keeping you at a distance, you might offer this plea. Why struggle alone when you can turn to the one standing beside you? Etta’s teaching an important lesson in vulnerability here; that in relationships, we need to lean on each other when things go wrong and trust that we’ll be met with support and strength. This can be an especially difficult blow if you’re the untrusted who trusts. If that sounds familiar, you likely understand Etta’s general sentiment in this tune: I trust you, why don’t you trust me?
“I’d Rather Go Blind”
This smooth, groovy ballad is about realizing you’ve lost the one you love to another. Not explicitly, though. In a more painful way, like seeing your love with someone else and realizing that somehow, spiritually, energetically, you’ve lost them. That’s the sort of thing so painful to see that sight no longer serves a purpose.
“Two Sides (To Every Story)”
Here’s a valuable lesson in perspective as told from the unbiased 3rd party witnessing a relationship meltdown. Yes, “there’s always two sides to every story, there’s always his side and yours, too.” You might think he played you for a fool, but maybe he thinks you treated him cruel. And maybe you’re both right and maybe it doesn’t even matter but you’re holding on to it so closely you can’t see straight anymore. There comes a point in every relationship where two people may just have to agree to disagree
If you were given a chance to correct your most painful relationship mistakes, would you take it? If not, Etta’s got some news for you. If you can’t own up to your stuff, she’s going to turn it right back around on you so that you can relate to the feeling. This one’s about the subtle ways we hurt each other in relationship, maybe without even really knowing it. Staying so focused on we’re own wants and needs we don’t even realize how we may keep someone else down so they’ll keep coming back for more. Certainly not the ideal way to treat the one you love and worth a taste of your own medicine.
“All I Could Do Was Cry”
A heartbreaking tune about watching your love walk down the aisle with another woman which immediately brings to mind images of Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend, at last month’s royal wedding. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trolling her. It takes a powerful woman to be able to say goodbye so respectfully. But ouch, it cannot feel good. That achy cry seems to be the only real reaction to losing the man you still so clearly love and watching him offer to someone else a commitment he couldn’t give to you.
“Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”
Let’s hear it for a feminist anthem! Etta’s not messing around here, fellas. This isn’t your world to do with us as you please. Treat a woman with respect and get respect back. Treat her like a toy and you’ll get played right back. It’s not that hard, right? “A woman’s only human, you should understand, she’s not a plaything, she’s flesh and blood just like her man.”
Well, I think we’re all familiar with this one but it’s a nice, happy ending to our love playlist. At last! Lonely days are over! This is the ultimate love song, performed at many a wedding and even President Obama’s inauguration ball. This is a love song oozing with dreams, spells, thrills, and lonely gray clouds parting to a hopeful blue sky. This is the love song that suddenly makes sense only when you meet the person you’ve spent this whole time searching for. It is possible after all, I suppose.