I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) – Aretha Franklin | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#9) and R&B (#1 for 7 weeks); 1967

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

Aretha Franklin’s swat-attack on the charts in 1967 was R&B’s version of Beatlemania. First, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) roared to #1 in just two weeks, where it stayed for seven. After a one week break, Lady Soul took over the top spot for eight more weeks with Respect, returned for two more weeks at #1 more in August with Baby I Love You, and finished off her remarkable run with the #2 A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like). For Aretha it was an emotional outburst that had been building up for years: until then her only outlet had been gospel testifying. The catalyst for her coming-out lay in a very rough demo of a song called I Never Loved A Man. Where the FAME studio players in Muscle Shoals could find nothing to build on, Aretha discovered her freedom. It was in the can by mid afternoon on January 24th, 1967, made its chart debut seven weeks later, and two weeks after that became the #1 R&B record in America.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Jerry Wexler

Lyrics Written by:

  • Ronnie Shannon


  • Nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording in 1968
  • Ranked 83rd in the Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”  in 2003
  • Was ranked 5th in the Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”: “Respect” (released as a single from the album)  in 2004