I Saw Marvin Hamlisch And Aretha In Concert

Categories: Music

Sometime in the blurry '80s, I saw Aretha Franklin in concert at Lincoln Center!

Think that's incongruous?

Well, Aretha's opening act was Marvin Hamlisch!

Actually, this booking wasn't all that bizarre, since Hamlisch had cowritten a number one R&B tune for Aretha ("Break It To Me Gently") and also the Queen of Soul loved his "The Way We Were" and even covered it gorgeously (see video below).

But the man was admittedly a little whitebread for this gig, and he totally knew it.

In fact, he was extremely endearing in the way he sensed that the crowd was mainly there to see Aretha and he was a sort of glorified intrusion along the way.

Yes, we loved his work on The Sting, A Chorus Line, and just about everything else, but we wanted us some "Respect" and fast.

So Hamlisch riffed on that.

He joked about it.

He kept referring to it.

And I remember him even tinkling the keyboards and singing something like "We want Aretha" over and over again, asking the audience to sing along.

It was a wonderfully self-deprecating way to address the elephant in the room, to deflect any potential tension, and also to keep us mightily entertained.

He may not have always been nice to lyricist Ed Kleban during the creation of A Chorus Line--and I have to admit that's always irked me--but on this night, Marvin was one singular sensation.

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the version of the way we were was done no better than gladys knight. and the pips.

nostradavid like.author.displayName 1 Like

I saw Aretha a few months ago on her casino tour.

She looked and sounded great. playing piano on one song.

She was dressed in a flowing gown to start the show.

During an instrumental number halfway through, she left the stage,

returning in a tight silver sequin dress to show off her new figure.

I regret missing Marvin last year when he was here.


"Break It to Me Gently" is a song written by Carole Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamlisch which was an R&B hit for Aretha Franklin in 1977. Released from the Sweet Passion album, it reached #1 on the Hot Soul Singles chart in June, 1977." - Not the Brenda Lee song, which pees, sorry never heard of Ree Ree's.

bethesda topcommenter

"The elephant in the room"??? You scamp!


Kidding, kidding.

jackson30 topcommenter

Fantastic recollection. He was a master entertainer.