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I Might Have Been Queen

I know the secret combination!

It’s Tina’s birthday today, so in her honor I thought I’d write up a few songs from her fabulous solo album, Private Dancer. If you haven’t listened to it in a while, I recommend a revisit. It’s still powerful–whatta comeback!

Anyway, the song I want to highlight first is “I Might Have Been Queen,” which wasn’t a single, but it’s the song she chose to begin side one of the album with. It’s a rock song about reincarnation and Tina gives a controlled, yet dramatic, performance.

As you may (or may not) know, Tina is a believer in past lives. According to her autobiography, one of her comforts during the pain of her marriage was to sneak off and meet with seers and psychics. One told her, and she came to feel within herself, that in one past life she had been an Egyptian queen, specifically Hatshepsut.

Reading about all this in her autobiography it seemed a little comical–what could be more ’80s than a celebrity who believes in reincarnation? However, in Tina’s case it’s more complex than that. This idea that she had been a powerful person in a past incarnation was part of the fire that helped her leave Ike and start over from scratch. It was part of a new story she was telling herself about her worth, her ability to change and be happy.

Years later she was talking to her new record’s producer, Rupert Hine, and his girlfriend, Jennette Obstoj, about her beliefs and then they wrote “I Might Have Been Queen” for her. She mentions in her autobiography how meaningful the song was for her.

Anyway, back to the listener’s perspective: the track starts the album off on a mysterious note and slowly shows you the strong and self-assured Tina in store for you on this LP. (Keep in mind that the album that preceded this was her disco flop, Love Explosion.)

For every sun that sets / there is a new one dawning. / For every empire crushed / there is a brand new nation / Let the waters rise / I have ridden each tide . . . And I might have been queen / I remember the girl in the fields with no name. / She had a love. / Ohhh but the river won’t stop for me.

I really love the river in this song. What a perfect way to refer to her past (“Proud Mary”) in a wholly new context. She isn’t out hustling in this song, the river is a mystic metaphor for time. Time keeps passing and she has the chance to recreate herself.  I feel like I can feel hope coursing through Tina in her delivery.  It’s awesome.

In the end she proclaims that she is a “soul survivor,” and a chorus starts a refrain:

A Soul Survivor / On the river / But it won’t stop

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