It's hard to name the best thing about Aretha Franklin's performance at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, because I had goose bumps from the second she walked onstage in a floor-length fur coat to the moment when she raised her arms in triumph after letting go of the final note.
The Kennedy Center Honors, which recognize "the extraordinary and unparalleled talents of individuals whose impact and genius have left an indelible mark on civilization," were held December 6, but the ceremony didn't air on CBS until December 29. Then and only then did we civilian saps get to see Aretha Franklin perform Carole King's "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman."
So what was the best part of this titanic performance?
Was it 74-year-old Franklin sweeping her furs to the side to sit at the piano?
Was it 2015 honoree King singing and gaping from the balcony, beside herself with joy?
Was it President Obama, wiping away a tear and pumping a satisfied fist as Franklin's voice and the chords swelled, perhaps reminding him of his first inauguration when Franklin crushed "My Country 'Tis of Thee"?
Was it the overwhelmed audience members, singing along and then rising to their feet, as if they didn't know what else to do with themselves?
Or was it Franklin victoriously rising from the piano and shrugging off the fur coat, the better to let giant notes fly?
The answer, of course, is that all of these factors combined to produce one unforgettable performance. Sometimes, all you need to truly blow minds is a great song and a mammoth performer who knows how good she is; King's words and Franklin's voice are about as good as it gets.