That Lucky Old Sun
Release Date: February 2nd, 1962
Words by: Whaley Big Jesus
November 17th, 2012
John Hammond may well have been the greatest A & R (artist and repertoire) man in the history of the recording industry. After all, he was responsible for insisting that Columbia sign Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, two more influential songwriters do not easily come to mind.
Hammond was also responsible for signing Aretha Franklin in 1961, ostensibly another very shrewd move. However, Aretha wasn't actually successful until she moved from Columbia over to the soul/gospel specialists at Atlantic records in 1966. Her time at Columbia then was spent floundering in the jazzy big-band sounds of her contemporaries–Nat King Cole, Etta James. Her raw, mercurial voice was largely swallowed by the lush strings and controlled balladeering that had become a proven formula for Columbia, but it somehow fell flat on Aretha. On a lot of the material she recorded whilst at Columbia she simply sounds bored and uninspired.
'That lucky old sun' is a fantastic contradiction to this trend that largely overcame Aretha during the Columbia period. Her voice soars here. Just when you think she's at her limit, somehow that incredibly powerful voice pushes higher and then higher again, until you reach that point as a listener where the spine tingles and the head shakes and the eyes well up, and you realize why indeed Aretha is regarded as one of the most soulful singers of all time.