Nancy Roman

Proud Mary

Like everyone in the world, I love music.

But I am not a connoisseur. I don’t collect music. I don’t have a fancy music-playing thing – are people still using ipods and mp3s? I don’t even know. The last time I bought music it was The Best of James Taylor. I listen to the radio in the car. I like the radio. I don’t mind at all that someone else is choosing the songs. If it’s something I don’t like, it’s only a few minutes before I get to hear something else. It’s like the easiest gambling in the world. Once in a while, the absolutely perfect song comes on. What is absolutely perfect depends. But it’s perfect often enough.

Sometimes when I am doing my hair and makeup, I play some upbeat music to put myself in a good mood. Because I am not a music techie (not any kind of techie, and I don’t even know how to spell it and don’t feel like looking it up, so let’s just go with the spelling I have) – I just go to Youtube on my phone and pull up a song. That’s about the only song I pick, and then I let whatever comes up next surprise me… just like the car radio.

On Saturday, my brother-in-law sent me an email to remind me that “The Music Man” was going to be on TV in a few hours. He knows that’s my favorite movie – he’s been my brother-in-law for more than fifty years, for Pete’s sake – so he often sends me a reminder.

So when I was doing my makeup yesterday – and yes, I still put on makeup every day even though I never go anyplace – I called up Youtube and put on “Seventy-Six Trombones” – not the earlier number in the movie, but the finale number – when the credits are rolling. “The Music Man” is the only film I can think of where I actually get choked up with delight during the credits.

So I listened, and kept stopping my makeup application to peek at the screen, since the scene is so awesome. It’s like a one-thousand member marching band.

And after watching/listening twice through, I went back to my makeup.

With all the fancy algorithms today that predict what you will like based on what you have already chosen, I expected the next song to come up would be something related – a song from another musical or movie or from the same composer maybe. But it wasn’t.

For some reason that I cannot fathom, I heard the opening intro to Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary”: “We never ever do nothing nice and easy…”

I stopped my makeup and backed up the video.

It was a video of a live performance from 2009.


I have now watched it seven times. Then I watched a performance from back in the day – 1971, and then another live version from 2000. And then there was one from back in 1982.

1982 was about when I went a Tina Turner concert. It was an awakening for me.

Tina was in her mid 40s then. She said that when people asked her when she was going slow down and she always answered, “I’m just getting started.”

Well, she wasn’t just get started – she was at her peak. It’s just that her peak was lifelong.

What astonished me about Tina was her open, powerful sexuality.

I had never seen a woman so confident in her body. From up in the balcony, you could feel it.

Tina Turner was good looking, that was a fact. But she was not exceptionally beautiful. Nor did she have a fantastic body. It was good, but not awesome – her shoulders are a bit too broad, her neck a bit too thick.

Portrait by Nancy Roman

But those great legs and that wide-apart aggressive stance – she dominated the stage. With every move and with every note in her growling voice, she exuded sex.

It astonished me.

My idea of sexuality was so different from what I was seeing, hearing, and feeling with Tina.

Up until I saw Tina Turner, my concept of sexuality was built on images of Marilyn Monroe. I adored Marilyn. And she was – to me – the epitome of sensuality. And because of Marilyn, I defined sensuality as fragile, vulnerable, self-conscious.

But here was Tina. There wasn’t a drop of fragility or self-consciousness in her. Her sexuality in one word was: Powerful.

I wondered at the time, and still wonder today, what gives a woman that confidence. What makes her know – and love – that she is a physical, sexual force?

Was she born that way? Was it a gradual awakening? Did she have moments of doubt?

I was in my early 30s when I saw Tina. I was as insecure in my body at 30-something as I was at 12. My sexuality in one word: Excruciating.

Every woman I know is self-conscious about her body. How is that the norm and Tina the exception? How we waste the expression of our astonishing bodies! I wished at the time that Tina would teach a course in body fearlessness.

I think of all the videos of Proud Mary I’ve now watched, I think the one I love the most is the one that took me by surprise on Saturday – the one from 2009.

Tina Turner is the age then that I am now – only a few months away from 70. Has she slowed a bit? Maybe, but not much. Can she still deliver the full force of her rough and tough vocals? Absolutely. Is she still aware of her sexual power? Oh yes.

Tina is 80 now. I would still enroll in Tina’s School of Body Confidence.

Tina at 69.


  1. And I think some women just have that ‘air’ of confidence in what they’re wearing and how they look. I’ve wondered about that…are they born with it, learn it, or….do I just imagine that they have it, when in fact, they’re just as insecure as I am????


    • I think everyone is a little insecure. But that insecurity in Tina is really really small!


  2. Turner is one legendary human. I find her infinitely fascinating. Oddly enough, anthropologically speaking, somewhere along the line, we are taught as children that sexuality is “bad” or “secret”, which isn’t what other cultures teach young girls. So when we exhibit body confidence it’s condemned as culturally inappropriate. When other cultures do so, ours condemns it or admires it … awkwardly. Like you, I’d take that course. Thanks for the thought provoking commentary.


    • Yes. Learning in childhood that sexuality is bad is extremely hard to overcome.


  3. Always loved her.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. From a male perspective she was just amazing, awesome, sexy, and powerful. Those legs! Did you ever see her in “Thunderdome”? She is a rare and unique performer and could hold my attention no matter what she was doing. If I ever got to meet her face to face I would likely bow down and exclaim that I am not worthy. She is a goddess in a slightly scary way, but a goddess nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That kind of power in a woman is breathtaking.


  5. What a fabulous post — and song! And woman!

    My 2 30-something daughters and I have danced together to Proud Mary for the past decade. We even have a routine! I danced with them at my wedding to their stepfather. we danced to it together at my eldest daughters wedding 4 years ago. We call it, “channeling Tina!”

    Like you, I always had body image issues. Like you, (I’m 66) I’d go to her school too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bet at 80 she has plenty to teach us!


    • I would love to see your family “routine”.


  6. She is amazing. one of the best ever. She exudes sex appeal and confidence. And those legs go on forever!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That video of Tina Turner had a profound effect on me when I saw it in high school. Thank you for bringing up the memory. #henhouselady

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are lucky that you saw it as a teenager! Stumbling on it at 69 was still a pleasure though.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. She is amazing. And so is your portrait of her.


  9. I love music and used to have a large collection of cd’s but no more, now days I rarely listen to music


    • maybe it’s time to rediscover music


  10. Truly a woman we can all admire. Nice painting too.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. She is an incredible performer, and I agree that a big part of it is her confidence and positive attitude. Definitely a woman the rest of us can look up to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tonigyrl

      Absolutely love Tina. Thanks for this post, the music video and the painting. Great painting! Do you sell your artwork?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! Yes I sell my paintings. I paint portraits (of people and pets) on order, and I also sell finished work that was not commissioned. A small one (5 x 7)… like this one of Tina would be $75. A commissioned portrait of someone you know. – I work from a photo – is $60 for a pet and $100 for a person. I also paint 8 x 10. If you are interested you can write me at


  12. And all this in spite of being in an abusive marriage… Wonder woman, indeed!


  13. Simply the best! She is all of that – sexy, powerful, energetic, smart, charismatic, classy, beautiful. What I find so stunning about her is that she OWNS it. All of it.

    Loved your portrait of her both in paint and in words…….. Bravo!



  14. Seventy Six Trombones gets sung around here a lot. For some reason my husband & I can break into it randomly at any time. One day, recently, I said to him that we should watch the movie together as it was one of my favourites when I was a kid. He said, “What movie?”. After I picked myself up off the floor, I explained “what movie”. He is 10 years my senior and claims he had never heard of it. He knows every word to that song and still has never seen the movie. How is that possble.
    Tina has always been a force to be reckoned with in my books. You are right about those legs. Young men still have dreams of those legs. But, I think a lot of that sexuality that oozed off her was that smile that went all the way into the depths of her eyes and never let us look away.


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