As a small gay boy in southern New Jersey, I was OBSESSED with Tina Turner. The two gay teens next door (there must have been something in the water) LOVED the Private Dancer record, and would play it all the time on their record player and/or cassette deck. I remember watching the "What's Love Got To Do With It?" video for the first time and thinking that this woman was COMPLETELY different from all the other women on MTV at the time. She was older, black, soulful and looked like she couldn't give less of a shit what you thought about her. The video quickly became one of my favorites, but then when her second single came out, it was all over. I was completely enamored with this power house.
Those of us from a certain time cannot NOT sing along to this song, I am sorry.
I begged for the album for Christmas that year and got the cassette. "Private Dancer" is a classic album that, in my opinion, holds up to this day. Yes, some of the synthesizers and backing vocals are dated, but the passion, the rock and roll, the real emotion behind the song. While I was not a huge fan of her cover of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," I realize now that I was just emotionally ready at the age of 11 to appreciate the maturity of that song. I asked for her autobiogrpahy "I, Tina" for my birthday and read it cover to cover. (This would PROBABLY be a warning sign for the inevitable coming out process for my parents years later - proverbial bread crumbs, so to speak.) The pain and perseverance that she went through, the highs and the lows.... it was something that I couldn't fathom something a person could go through and come back from.
Tina Turner released albums over the next 15 years, some of which I loved ("Break Every Rule") and wasn't thrilled about ("Twenty Four Seven"), but I always have the utmost respect for a person who stays true to herself and does so with grace, beauty, perseverance and soul. If I could have dinner with Tina Turner, I would want it to be a meal where I could learn about where her strength comes from, what it takes to get back up after being knocked down, and what the fruits of that labor must be like now.
I would like to make this a regular segment on the blog this month, and hope that, while the people I would like to have dinner with won't all be on this level (I can think of one personality off the top of my head that would definitely be a more fun dinner), I hope this makes you think...who would YOU want to have dinner with? I'd love to know - leave me a comment!