On this day in 1971, Aretha Franklin began recording her classic single “Spanish Harlem.” two years later, she performed the song as part of a sold-out concert at the Nassau Coliseum in New York.

[photogallerylink id=62549 align=right]

“Spanish Harlem” was actually not an Aretha original – Ben E. King performed on the first version, written & produced by Phil Spector and Jerry Leiber.

The Aretha Franklin cover, as expected, out-performed the original on the charts, staying at #1 on the R&B chart for three weeks and two weeks on the pop chart. she also notably changed part of the lyrics of the song, from “A red rose up in Spanish Harlem” to “There’s a rose in black & Spanish Harlem.”

Whichever version fans may prefer, there’s no doubt Aretha Franklin’s version is at least just as powerful and moving as the original. Listen to her performing the song at her show at the Nassau Coliseum in 1973 below.

[metrolyrics artist=”Aretha Franklin” song=”Spanish Harlem”]


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