A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

What exactly is Aretha singing in "Respect"?

July 21, 2000

Dear Straight Dope:

Regarding the Otis Redding soul classic "Respect," I am confused about the "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, take out T-C-P" part. What exactly happens when you take out T-C-P? As far as I can tell, that leaves R-E-S-E, which doesn't make a lot of sense. Or am I mishearing the lyric?

SDStaff Jillgat replies:

You're mishearing the lyric. We can't reprint the whole song due to copyright considerations, but that doesn't stop some people. Check out this page. Here's the relevant portion of the lyrics as recorded by Aretha Franklin on February 14, 1967 in New York City (the song became a #1 hit for her that year) and included on the 1985 compilation album Atlantic Soul Classics:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Take care, TCB
Oh, sock it to me, sock it to me [etc.]

Aretha says "take care, TCB" = take care of business. The Temptations also had an album called TCB — Taking Care of Business.

You're not the first person to have misheard a song lyric. For some classic misreadings, see www.kissthisguy.com/, named after the classic Jimi Hendrix line, "'Scuse me, while I kiss this guy."

Another theory

Dear Straight Dope:

I was wondering if the said millionth stopped to consider the possiblity that Otis was providing his comment on RFC 793, the TCP/IP protocol, in which case the effect of taking out the TCP would be to provide raw IP capabilities, or the opportunity to use an alternative transport protocol.

As any network engineer knows, TCP/IP is a tranport-oriented protocol with error-handling capabilities in the transport layer. Perhaps Otis was expressing his preference for UDP, User Datagram Protocol, which unlike Transport Control Protocol, avoids the costly overhead of error-handling code in the packet header. Understandable considering the small bandwidth of networks in the 1960's.

Of course, they did not have RFC 793 implemented back then: however, they did have RFC 1149 (cf. ftp://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc1149.txt ) implemented in some MANs (metropolitan area networks).

HTH.

SDStaff Jillgat replies:

Leave it to me to overlook the obvious.

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