music, nostalgia, obits

The great Tina Turner has joined the heavenly choir…

Or… I’d like to think that Tina is somewhere incredible now, anyway. She certainly lived in a beautiful, idyllic, paradise like part of Switzerland off of Lake Zurich. A couple of years ago, Bill and I visited Kusnacht, Switzerland, where Tina’s home was located, but we were there because Bill wanted to visit Carl Jung’s home and museum, which is also in Kusnacht.

Last night, just after dinner, Bill blurted out the headline that Tina Turner had died. I wasn’t surprised by the news. She was 83 years old, and had suffered a host of serious health problems at the end of her life. She was also predeceased by two of her sons, Craig and Ronnie. Ronnie passed away just six months ago, which I’m sure was hard for Tina to bear. But, of course, I am only speculating, and I did read that Tina was somewhat estranged from her sons in later years. In any case, as sad as it is for the public to lose a legendary superstar like Tina Turner, I also suspect that the end was probably a relief for her. In spite of her incredible career and worldwide fame, Tina did not have an easy life.

My heart goes out to Tina’s two surviving sons, Ike Jr. and Michael, and her husband, Erwin Bach, who famously donated a kidney to Tina when she went into kidney failure. They had a very long love affair with each other, having started their relationship in the 1980s and married in 2013. That was also the year that Tina gave up her U.S. passport and became a Swiss citizen. I don’t know what, exactly, drew Tina to Switzerland, but if I were to guess, I’d say it’s probably because it’s a very serene place with lots of natural beauty and security. It’s a far cry from Tina’s beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, where Tina was born on November 26, 1939 as Anna Mae Bullock.

Tina Turner’s family of origin was very poor, and she was the youngest of three daughters. Her father was an overseer of sharecroppers, and she grew up helping her family pick cotton. When Tina was eleven years old, her mother, Zelma, ran off without any warning, supposedly to escape an abusive relationship with Tina’s father, Floyd Bullock. According to a passage on Tina’s Wikipedia page:

She stated in her autobiography I, Tina that her parents had not loved her and she wasn’t wanted.[33] Zelma had planned to leave Floyd but stayed once she became pregnant.[34] “She was a very young woman who didn’t want another kid,” Turner recalled.[34]

I have basic knowledge of how that feels, although I do think my parents love(d) me, in their own way. Tina was able to turn that fundamental rejection into incredible success. Imagine, being a tiny child who knows her parents didn’t want her… and then growing up to be such a renowned phenom whose death the world mourns. It just goes to show you that there is endless potential in most people. Tina went through many hardships, but she was also blessed with extraordinary talent, drive, creativity, and quite a lot of luck.

Ike and Tina, and their version of “Proud Mary”…

Still, it amazes me when I think of Tina’s humble beginnings as Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tennessee, picking cotton with her family, enduring years of separation from her parents, living with her very religious grandparents, and finding the gift of song in their Baptist church. Then, years later, she met Ike Turner, who propelled her to fame, but used and abused her until she found the courage to leave him. In the years between leaving Ike and breaking out as a rock star, Tina did have to pay some dues in Las Vegas hotels… and perhaps most embarrassingly, on an episode of The Brady Bunch Hour. Still, she always gave it her all!

Tina in 1981, just before her career took off again… that time, as a completely different solo act.
She really paid her dues, didn’t she?

I will never forget the first time I heard Tina’s remake of the Al Green classic, “Let’s Stay Together. I was maybe 11 years old, and had never heard Tina’s hits with Ike Turner. I don’t think I even knew their version of “Proud Mary”, nor was I even exposed to Al Green’s song. To be honest, my first reaction to Tina’s “Let’s Stay Together” wasn’t very favorable. At that time of my life, I didn’t have an appreciation for unique voices. I didn’t like listening to Bob Dylan, either– even though he is an incredible artist and songwriter. I remember thinking Tina had a terrible singing voice!

It took awhile for me to appreciate this song. What can I say? I was about 11 years old… I also liked eating cold hot dogs when I was that age.

But then, the next year, the title song on Private Dancer came out on the radio… Suddenly, I understood what the fuss was all about. I remember that album so well, as I was right in the middle of puberty when it was a hit. I’d see her videos, enchanted by her big, bushy, wild hair (wig), her mini skirts, leather bustiers, high heels and bright red lips. I was shocked to find out she was less than two years younger than my mother! I liked her other songs just as much or even more, and then I became a real fan. Maybe I wasn’t as big of a fan of hers as others were. I never got to see her in concert. But her unusual sound made me want to know more about her.

This song was written by Mark Knopfler, who is one of my favorite musicians… Dire Straits accompanied her, although the recently departed Jeff Beck provided the guitar solo. Mark Knopfler reportedly wasn’t too pleased with Beck’s performance, calling it “the world’s second ugliest guitar solo”.
Tina lent her talents to a very worthy cause…

In 1993, when I was in college, my friend Chris worked at a video store. He got a screener of the movie What’s Love Got to Do With It starring Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne. I loved that movie! I’ve seen it a bunch of times over the past thirty years. I never get tired of it, or the wonderful soundtrack with old songs from the Ike and Tina era. What I really love about that movie is that it introduced me to Tina’s past through Angela Bassett’s masterful acting. As I mentioned up post, I wasn’t familiar with Ike and Tina, and it wasn’t until I saw that movie that I started to seek out those old performances that were so different from Tina’s 80s image. I also love Angela Bassett’s work. She is a fantastic actor, and is perfect in her role as Tina Turner.

Angela’s version of Tina.

Tina’s story, as depicted in What’s Love Got To Do With It, was made entertaining, even though she truly went through Hell to get to where she ended up. The truth is, Tina escaped her hellish marriage to Ike Turner and soared into a career of her own that way eclipsed what she ever had with Ike. She served as a role model and icon to so many people of my generation. I heard her collaborate with other musicians, changing classic songs into her own creations.

Holy crap, can Angela Bassett act! And she really channels Tina perfectly in this film.
A very different version of Tina… but just as iconic and awesome.

It wasn’t until the early aughts that I read Tina’s book, I, Tina, ghostwritten with Kurt Loder, which provided a much rawer look at her life story. It’s been many years since I read I, Tina, but I do remember that the book was very candid. I distinctly remember reading about how and where Tina lost her virginity. Tina was just as forthcoming and unbridled in her book as she was in her stage performances. I think I still own a copy of that book– it’s in storage. I shouldn’t be too surprised that the day after Tina’s death, the prices for the first edition of her book are way up on Amazon! Years ago, I wrote a review of that book. I’m not sure if I still have it available. I’ll look and see, and if I find it, I’ll repost it.

Maybe Karen, Olivia, and Tina are reunited in the great beyond…

Not too long ago, I saw a 2021 documentary about Tina Turner’s more recent life. It was called Tina, and it filmed in her home in Switzerland. She spoke candidly about her life, and that was when I heard about her serious health concerns. But even with those health problems, she still looked amazing and spoke with such lucidity and wisdom. I remember being amazed by her all over again. She was obviously destined to be an icon… but even icons have an end. Fortunately, she left behind an astonishing treasure trove of works that will continue to inspire and amaze people for many years to come.

I highly recommend watching this documentary if you’re interested in Tina Turner’s life story.

I know a lot of people are expressing sadness that Tina Turner has died. I think it would be disingenuous for me to be sad about Tina’s death, because she lived a long, full life, and death is something that happens to us all. Instead of sadness about her death, I feel grateful that she lived, and we all got to know aspects of her by watching her perform and hearing her sing. I am consoled that she no longer has to suffer from ill health, or even just the ravages of getting older– the aches and pains that make it harder to enjoy living. Even if there is no Heaven after death, the condition of no longer suffering is a kind of heavenly peace.

Any sorrow I feel is not about Tina’s death, but for those who knew and loved her, and will have to go on without her in their lives. I know she will be missed by so many people– not just her legions of fans, but the people in her life who had the pleasure of knowing her personally. To those people, I offer my most sincere condolences… and to Tina herself, I offer gratitude for the many memories I have of the 1980s version of Tina Turner and the way she served as a positive role model to so many young girls like I was, back in those days. I really wish I could have seen her perform live.

Tina really was a queen for us all…

“I Might Have Been Queen”… there’s no “might” about it.

I’m sharing the link to I, Tina, for those who might not have known it exists. If you purchase through my site, I get a small commission from Amazon. But I don’t expect anyone to pay so much for this book. I recommend looking in your local library for it. ETA: I see a new edition is out and offered at a relatively reasonable price. If you want to know her unvarnished story, I recommend picking it up.


A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall…

Yesterday, I received a copy of the soundtrack for the film, Born on the Fourth of July. I’ve never actually seen that film, which starred Tom Cruise and came out about 30 years ago. I am very familiar with the soundtrack, though, because a college friend of mine had a copy of it. It featured Edie Brickell & New Bohemians covering Bob Dylan’s song, “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”. I’ve always liked her version of that song, but the soundtrack for Born of the Fourth of July is out of print and I couldn’t find it available digitally (as of today, I have found an MP3 version of it on Amazon). I do have a bootleg cassette of the soundtrack, but it’s in storage in Texas. So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to order a used copy of the CD. I just got it yesterday, and have already listened to that song a couple of times. It still sounds awesome after 30 years.

This is such a fabulous cover!

I remember the college friend who owned this soundtrack used to play it and sing along with Edie. Regrettably, he didn’t have a very good singing voice, and because he was about 18 when he was playing this CD a lot, he had a propensity toward being raunchy. He changed the chorus from “It’s a hard, it’s a hard…” to “I’m hard, I’m hard…” I’ve found myself unable to forget that particular version of the song. Today, maybe I’ll be able to divorce my mind from my college buddy’s drunken, off key version of Edie’s masterful remake of Bob Dylan’s classic.

These are the lyrics:

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well-hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

This song is basically about an oncoming struggle. It was written in the summer of 1962, and Dylan has said he was inspired by reading news articles on microfiche at the New York Public Library. Dylan wrote in his memoir, Chronicles: Volume One, “After a while you become aware of nothing but a culture of feeling, of black days, of schism, evil for evil, the common destiny of the human being getting thrown off course. It’s all one long funeral song.” I can relate to feeling hopeless in the face of what seems like oncoming doom.

This morning, I was reading the Recovery from Mormonism board, and there was a plea for help from a man who has never been LDS. He wrote this:

I am a divorced man with 2 daughters aged 4 and 8. I just found out that my ex secretly converted to Mormon a few months ago and has been taking the girls to church.

Looking for basic info on the church, particularly adult female converts, and ultimately ideas and strategies for protecting my daughters from becoming indoctrinated.

I am terrified of many things, not least of which the church being used to convince the girls to ostracize me since I am not LDS.

Based on what I read in the thread, it appears that this man is newly divorced and the split was very acrimonious. He shares custody with his ex wife, and claims that she is a “weak” person who, despite being highly educated, isn’t interested in having a lot of responsibility. I really don’t blame this guy for being concerned. After all, Bill and I have lived this scenario. Bill’s daughters were slightly older when he and his ex wife split. But his ex decided to join the LDS church when she and Bill were still married, and the kids were very young. They’ve grown up LDS and, sure enough, it was used as a parental alienation tool.

Fortunately, things eventually turned around between Bill and one of his daughters. A few years ago, despite seeming to be the most estranged from Bill, his younger daughter started speaking to him again. They Skype and email regularly, and I’m hoping Bill can visit her and her two children in Utah when he goes to Las Vegas in the spring. It will have been fifteen years since their last “in person” meeting. I don’t think they are connected on Facebook, although that probably doesn’t matter, since Bill doesn’t post much anyway.

As for the older daughter, who is now 28 years old and used to be very attached to Bill… she remains estranged and mired in her mother’s toxic influence. We’ve heard it’s mainly because she is the main caregiver to Ex’s youngest child, a boy with autism.

I have only met Bill’s daughters once. It was back in June 2003, when we’d been married for only six months. We spent barely 48 hours with them before we had to bring them back to their mother. After that visit, she made it virtually impossible for Bill to have normal and meaningful contact with his daughters. However, Bill’s situation is different from that of the guy who posted on RfM. He and his ex didn’t use lawyers, and Bill agreed to allow her to have sole custody. At the time he made the agreement, he felt like he was “over a barrel”. There was no money. He couldn’t pay for lawyers or court, nor did he have time to go to court. Bill had just come back into the Army full-time and needed to prove himself. He needed to make money so he could recover from their marriage, pay child support and alimony, and get on with his life.

I met Bill online about twenty years ago. At the time, he and his ex wife were separated. He was in Kansas and she was in Arkansas. She had a boyfriend whom she eventually moved into Bill’s house. Boyfriend immediately took over “daddy” duties to Bill’s daughters, who were at that time 8 and 6 years old. Boyfriend converted to Mormonism and the girls started calling him “Dad” once Ex married him. Bill was pushed out of their lives and the church was one of the reasons given as to why he wasn’t suitable to be their dad anymore. Ex seemed less interested in pushing Bill out of his former stepson’s life. He was older and wiser than his sisters, and Bill had been his “dad” since he was a toddler. But later, when Ex decided to punish Bill again, she reconnected her son with his bio dad, whom she’d once claimed was violent and abusive.

I don’t know what the RfM poster’s ex wife is like. She may not be as cruel as Bill’s ex wife is. I hope she’s not. He describes her as “weak”, whereas Bill never seemed to think of Ex as “weak”. It’s possible that she’ll put her kids first, particularly when she learns more about how the church operates and what the beliefs actually are. I really don’t think Ex put stock in every aspect of Mormonism. For her, it seemed to be more about having another parental alienation tool. She used the church’s teachings to convince Bill that he was a horrible person who fell short of being good enough to be a dad to his children. It sounds like the guy on RfM has an ex who is simply looking for a church to support her during a tough time. However, if his ex really is “weak”, I would be concerned that she’ll get linked up with a single Mormon man who will really cause some problems. Unfortunately, church leaders can be manipulative and single-minded when it comes to pushing their beliefs. And small children are easily indoctrinated and swept up into the church. They make it palatable and easy.

It’s good that this guy has found RfM. It’s good that he sees the church as a potential threat to his relationship with his children. There are a lot of people who can help him, to include his lawyer. A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall… it fell for us for a good long while. I’m happy to report that after twenty years, the sun has come out and there’s hope of reconciliation. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot and met some incredible people who used to be Mormons. Some of them didn’t believe our story at first… probably because people automatically like to give women more of a break. As the years passed, they realized we were telling the truth and became allies.

Bill’s daughter has made it clear that all three of Ex’s eldest children– including Bill’s older daughter– know that their mother is crazy. Younger daughter has seen the toxic, destructive patterns of her mother and grandmother and doesn’t want to repeat them with her family. Older daughter, whom we have heard is also on the autism spectrum, has said that she has no guarantee that her mother won’t toss her out on the street someday. Former stepson moved far away from his mother and supposedly doesn’t speak to her much. He doesn’t talk to Bill, and we don’t know if he’s still in touch with his dad. Ex still has a teenaged daughter and an adolescent son at home, and we’ve heard her husband isn’t in the greatest of health. He probably hangs on, though, because he knows that if he leaves the Ex, he will be leaving his kids in the hands of a madwoman who will use any means to smear him and ruin his relationship with his kids.

I don’t know if anyone, other than younger daughter, is still LDS. I suspect older daughter might be. It sounds like the rest of them may have gone inactive. But it would not surprise me if Ex used aspects of the church as a means to manipulate and control. She stops at nothing. I hope the guy on RfM, new to this church bullshit, will stick around and absorb information. That board is tremendously helpful and they will help him weather the hard rain that’s about to fall.