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.
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.