February 26, 1985. I was in junior high in Nederland, Texas, a small town a few miles outside Beaumont, when Tina Turner performed on the Grammys. I had already heard about her from my favorite teacher, Mrs. Stansbury, the theater arts teacher at C. O. Wilson Junior High School. But seeing this performance sealed the deal: I was in love.

It wasn’t until about 5 years later, however, that I was able to fully indulge my love for all things Tina Turner. As soon as I got my first CD player sometime in college, I bought her four solo albums — Private Dancer, Break Every Rule, Tina Live in Europe, and Foreign Affair — and started listening to them obsessively.

What I’ve always liked about Tina’s music is her combination of strength and vulnerability. This combination is captured in Herb Ritts’ iconic image of Tina. Her story as a survivor shines through in his image. She is strong, determined, and joyful, despite whatever else is happening in her life. Her music also captures this quality.

Because my love for Tina Turner came to full fruition around 1990, it was inevitably bound up for me in my simultaneous coming out as a gay man. Listening to Tina’s music spoke to me in that period of my life, articulating what I felt, what I wanted, and even what I was most afraid of. Ever since that time, Tina’s music as been a constant love, something I return to over and over. Whether I’m depressed, happy, in love, confused or nostalgic, listening to Tina always jives with what I’m feeling. So many other things have changed, are changing, and will change in my life; but my love for Tina remains the same.

That said, I realized earlier today that I haven’t listened to any of Tina’s music for a long time. Partly, I’m sure this is a reflection of the fact that my desire to hear “Private Dancer” or “The Best” or “Why Must We Wait until Tonight?” ebbs and flows from year to year. It’s also partly a reaction to the fact that she hasn’t put out a new album since 1999’s Twenty-Four Seven. I really wish she would stop with the greatest hits collections and give us some great music. In some of her concerts, she used to talk about putting out more of an acoustic album that just let her sing. I wish she would. That would be an amazing album!

I was listening to my iPod a little while ago and remembered that, when I was younger, I would listen to Foreign Affair whenever I was anxious or depressed. So, I switched over to “Be Tender with Me Baby” and started listening. Here’s a live version I found on YouTube:

This song sums up what I was feeling when I listened to it a little while ago.

You got the right to tell me it’s all over
It isn’t like me to be begging you
Don’t let go, don’t let go
Just stay with me another day
When I’m not myself please understand me
I’m so confused I don’t know what to do
But don’t give up, don’t give up
It just may take a little time

Be tender with me baby
I’m so afraid you’ll go away
Be tender with me baby
Always, for always

If I had billions of dollars, I’d get Tina to fly here and sing this song to PJ, though I suspect I would get more excitement out of it than he would.

There are so many other songs by Tina Turner that I love. I’ll just end by posting clips of my 5 favorite Tina tracks (at the moment).

“The Best:” I’m not sure what’s up with the horse imagery, but I love it anyway!

“What’s Love Got to Do with It:” Classic Tina.

“Why Must We Wait until Tonight:” A slightly more obscure song; Tina at her sexiest.

“A Change Is Gonna Come:” I love her cover of this classic.

“Break Every Rule:” Another classic Tina love song.

I couldn’t find a good clip of the video for “Something Beautiful Remains,” but I it’s also one of my current favs. Here are the lyrics instead:

Tears will leave no stains
Time will ease the pain
For every life that fades
Something beautiful remains

We’re living in world, stars and dust
Between heaven ‘n all that surrounds us
We’re travellers here, spirits passing through
And the love we give, is all that will endure
Hey now, what we had is gone
But I still remember you
Just like a rose after the rain
Something beautiful remains

Tears will leave no stains
Time will ease the pain
For every life that fades
Something beautiful remains

Now the darkness falls
sun’s going down
one by one, the stars are coming out
tide comes in, washes footprints from the sand
one day ends, a new day must begin
Hey now, though we are apart
You’re forever in my dreams
Hey now, love is lost again
(What u gonna do about it,
what u gonna say)
Something beautiful remains

Tears will leave no stains
Time will ease the pain
For every life that fades
Something beautiful remains

And you wonder sometimes how we carry on
When you’ve lost the love the knew
But it’s alright, it’s alright
To your own heart be true

Tears will leave no stains
Time will ease the pain
For every life that fades
Something beautiful remains.