Etta James Does Not Rock the House

Posted by: on Feb 8, 2009 | Comments (2)

I was waiting for this. Etta James slams Beyoncé.

It’s not so much that Etta James is jealous of someone else singing her song; she couldn’t be, after the thousands of versions of “At Last” played at weddings every single weekend in America. At some point, you hand your signature song to the public, and are glad for the supporters (and royalties) of the original instead of threatening to whoop their ass. James signed off on Cadillac Records, and knew Beyoncé would be in public, promoting the film with her likeness.

But: “He ain’t my president.” ‘the fuck? If that’s the way she feels, then she never deserved to sing “At Last” for Obama anyway, and she and other cantankerous rock critics can sit in a corner complaining about how Beyoncé needs a ladder to kiss the hem of Etta James’ skirt—with intelligence and hope as collateral damage.

Realistically, Etta James needs some scaffolding to reach Beyoncé’s shoes. She isn’t the vocal powerhouse who recorded Etta James Rocks the House anymore, and frankly, if she’d sung for the Obamas, she only would have embarrassed herself. She’s since offered a halfhearted semi-retraction, but I don’t think anyone feels it. A sad twilight to a great career.