I have never put my finger on exactly what it is about Tina Turner that made me feel so drawn to her. I remember the first time I ever heard her. When we were kids, we had this video tape of all the Grammy nominated songs from the year and their videos. Sara, you're going to have to help me remember here, but I know it included "Beat It" by Michael Jackson, "Material Girl" by Madonna, "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince, "Hello" by Lionel Richie, "I Just Called to Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper, and some boring some by Chicago. We would always fast forward that one.
Also included on the list was the one and only "What's Love Got to Do With It." It had to have been in 1984 - what a great year for music! I was either four or five years old then, and given that I don't really remember much from when I was a kid, I find it pretty remarkable that I remember this videotape as well as I do. It must have been because of Tina...or maybe because Sara and I watched it twice a day for years...
I remember her miniscule leather skirt and her jean jacket, and her hair. Oh god, her hair. I remember the effing twirl she did on the bridge when she walked past that one guy. I remember when she balled her fists in that video. I remember how her voice sounded gentler when she sang "sweet old-fashioned notion." I loved her so much. I think about it now, and I realize that I absolutely wanted to be Tina Turner.
Some time later, I saw the video for "We Don't Need Another Hero," yes, the one from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. It's hilarious to me now, but at the time, it terrified me for some reason. Maybe it was her long white wig, or those insane giant earrings. It couldn't have been that haunting, brilliant tune, could it? But yes, I was terrified. Yet still transfixed on Tina...
Tina has definitely been in my life since then, but not as much in the forefront. In the summer of 2005, however, my friend Lia helped me resurrect my love for her via a synchronized swimming routine done to the song Simply The Best. I'm not quite sure how it all came together, but I'll credit Lia's impressive resume of choreography and 6 plus years of jazz and tap, along with my ability to do a handstand under water. We had a complete routine with moves that complimented the lyrics. When Tina sang the word "heart," we put our hands over our hearts. When she stated that she would "hang on every word you say" I jumped on Lia's back and she swam me around. When Tina sings "Baby, I would rather be dead," yes, you guessed it. We did the Dead Man's Float. Genius. We rocked that shit.
So when my mother called me about 5 months ago to tell me that Tina was going on tour and would be playing in Chicago, I didn't really have a choice. I set my alarm for a Saturday morning and got online and bought us tickets. Me and moms. Seeing Tina Turner. Unbelievable.
The show was insane. I stupidly did not sneak my camera in, so here is what I got on my phone. They're not all that impressive, but you can see both her and her image on the giant screen on some. On others, she's being raised up on a platform...
My mother was adorable. It was her first big concert ever! She kept turning to me with her mouth wide open, hugging me and throwing one arm around my shoulders as we danced together. We made friends with everybody around us, especially the people in front of us, who, fortunately, were not the Kings of Douchebaggery that my sister recently encountered. These guys...they were more queenish than kingish...beautiful. We both wore earplugs, but she kept turning to me and exclaiming that she could "feel the music" in her heart. I could have cried. I may cry right now.
One thing that's kind of off the subject is that it was totally the night of celebrities. Previous to the show, we met my father, Emil, and Mladenka at Lago for dinner (go there and get tortellini with meat sauce...omg). It was packed there, with a ton of people watching the White Sox game, including...Julia Stiles! Hilarious. Then at the concert, there was a big ruckus near the front of the floor. "Oprah's here, Oprah's here!" people were exclaiming. And there she was! With good old Steadman, who just looked confused for the whole night. And THEN! During the intermission, there was yet another big commotion near one of the skyboxes. "It's probably effing Tom Cruise or something," I say sarcastically to my mother. "Actually, it is Tom Cruise!" says the guy selling beer in the aisle. "He's up there with Oprah!" And there he was, giving high fives, waving, jumping over chairs...basically acting like a crazy person. What a boner.
Anyhow, back to Tina. She played for a good 45 minutes, took a half hour break, and then came back and played for over an hour. She played everything I had hoped for, including covers of "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer, and a beautiful, acoustic rendition of "Help" by The Beatles. It actually made me like The Beatles a little bit! And that's rare. She did "I Can't Stand the Rain," and "Better Be Good to Me," and did a 20 minute version of "Nutbush City Limits" as an encore. She had about 7 costume changes, four backup dancers, a full band, backup singers, and people doing capoeira on stage. Platforms rose up fifteen feet in the air and went over the audience while she danced like a crazy woman. Her voice was magnificent. She sang with passion and love and power, dancing around the giant stage and way more than holding her own with the dancers who were probably 45 years her junior. Even when she was sitting during the few acoustic songs, her legs were moving; feet tapping on the ground, legs swinging...how could she stay still with a voice like that? And when she sang "Proud Mary," I was immediately humbled. Never in my life did I think I'd witness that. It was magical and historical and meant the world to me.
So what is it, then, about Tina Turner? Yes, she's a phenomenon. Yes, she's the only 68 year old I've ever heard of, besides maybe Jack Lalanne, who is able to move like that. But there's got to be something else...Maybe it's the fact that I would probably wear everything she has in her wardrobe. She mostly wears black with a ton of silver glitter. That's my look, man! Its my favorite combination ever! Or maybe it's that she does stuff I'm afraid to do, like wear wigs. I'm sort of terrified of wearing a wig. Maybe it's because, and I say this without an ounce of sarcasm, because I really mean it, she is a survivor, and I need some of those ladies to look up to.
Or maybe, just maybe, it's the fact that she has expressed in her lyrics everything I've ever wanted to say to a dude. "Be tender with me, baby," is what I mean to say. "You better, you better be good to me. I don't need another hero..." Yeah, that's probably it. From now on, I'm taking my inspiration from Tina Turner lyrics. Don't be surprised when I tell you that I'll accept deutchmarks or dollars for my private dancing. I'll do it.
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