What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Angela Bassett’s performance of Tina Turner’s iconic “Proud Mary” in the biopic, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”(1993) is a tour de force tribute to my favorite “girls rock” musical numbers from films with dynamic female leads.

James Brown may have been the hardest working man in show business, but he wasn’t being physically abused every day by his spouse. Unlike Tina Turner, the hardest working woman in show business who simultaneously raised a family while delivering show stopping, gut wrenching vocals that, at that time, girls weren’t suppose to be able to deliver.

 

What's Love Got to Do with it poster

 

Quoting my favorite critic – the late Roger Ebert’s review from 1993 – “…ranks as one of the most harrowing, uncompromising showbiz biographies I’ve ever seen.”

Bassett kills it with her living, breathing and – Whoa, check out those guns – transformation paying homage to the Queen of Rock – Tina Turner!

This is Angela Bassett’s hard work paying off; seamlessly blending Tina’s vocals with a powerful performance of her hard rockin’ hit – “Proud Mary”.

Tina Turner’s (Anna Mae Bullocklife is a testament to her resilience. I’ve been fortunate enough to see her live and believe me she is truly a force of energy “leaving it all on the stage” with every performance.  “Proud Mary” (written in 1969 by singer/songwriter John Fogerty and recorded by his band Credence Clearwater Revival) is one of her most recognizable signature songs.

Tina’s interpretation is worlds away from the original southern rock version. With a completely different arrangement, it opens with Tina teasing that sometimes the audience might like to hear them do a song “nice and easy” but “we never, ever do nothing nice and easy” we always do it “nice and rough”. She further sets up the number by enticing the crowd with they’re going to do the first part “nice” but they’re going to do the finish “rough”.

The song reached #4 on the pop charts on March 27, 1971 and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group in 1972.

 

Tina

Tina lived a life of poverty growing up in Nutbush, TN in the 1940’s, but found solace in the spirit and freeing experience of music and singing in the choir of her Southern Baptist church. She began her musical career in St. Louis in the 1950’s singing in Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm band.

Ike Turner (her husband) ended up trying to destroy not only her passion but her life. With hate in his heart and jealousy of her talent, he systematically physically and mentally abused her for years. However, through her strength of will and perseverance, she fought back, sued for divorce, and walked out the courtroom in 1978 (in spite of what Ike tried to prevent) with her dignity and above all – Her Name!

I love Tina Turner and smile because this routine has been performed more than once in the living rooms, basements, wherever by a generation of “rock girls” (myself included). Tearing it up, whipping our hair back and forth and just knowing we are too doggone hot!

This performance of “Proud Mary”(1971) showcases the dynamic energy and incredible legs of the one, the only, the incomparable – Miss Tina Turner!

 

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Spark the Fire – What it Means to be Young!

fireglass newyears eve

This new year I’m starting out with a series of tributes to my favorite “girls rock” musical numbers from films with dynamic female leads.

This post is my salute to Diane Lane (Ellen Aim) and to one of the great bass thumping, energy boosting, heart-stirring numbers I love from the 80’s. (Giving credit where credit is due, those incredible vocals were performed by Holly Sherwood; another unsung, backup hero.)

 

 Streets of Fire 1984

 

 

My emotional connection to this song has not diminished. It’s still as powerful and meaningful to me as when I first embraced it over 20 years ago. Penning this post was difficult but also cathartic. To write this piece from truth, I had to acknowledge my own struggle to reconcile the ideal with the real. My vision of myself as the rebel, the dreamer and the one determined to not look back with regret.

“Tonight is What it Means to be Young” amplifies those feelings of that perfect love, staying true to one’s self, and the reality of having to let go.

This driving beat is palpable. It’s a CPR pumping of blood sent to both quicken and relieve the relentless pain Ellen Aim is feeling after losing the love of her life; the embodiment of her dream of an “angel.”

Rockin’ that hot red dress, she channels acceptance and remembrance of another time and another place of youth and the promise of love.

 

Streets of Fire Diane

 

I’ve got a dream when the darkness is over
We’ll be lyin’ in the rays of the sun
But it’s only a dream and tonight is for real
You’ll never know what it means
But you’ll know how it feels

It’s gonna be over
Before you know it’s begun
It’s all we really got tonight
Tonight is what it means to be young
Tonight is what it means to be young