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Letter from Tina

This is the Ike & Tina Turner version of the spoken-word pop song–a short ditty where Tina speaks over a simple piano-and-drums arrangement, and the Ikettes pipe in occasionally.

I’ve read that Ike was thrashing around for any old material to record to fulfill his contract with Sue Records, but even so this seems misguided. Tina’s singing is what makes their great songs shine, and keeps even their clunkers interesting. So why have Tina do spoken word? It’s pointless.

This song is a blip in their catalog, the B-side to “I Idolize You,” but I still like it. It’s interesting to hear Tina do such a Leslie Gore-ish song. Per their formula, it starts out with some Tina wails, and she sings “I’m almost crazy” before starting into the spoken word letter to “Dear My Man.” And she does seem almost crazy, using a bubblegum-and-rootbeer voice while describing this atrocious relationship:

First, first I want you tell help me to understand, understand the things you do that hurts me so. There should be no doubt whether or not I’ll understand. Because, because honey I love you. And my love for you hides all faults. You see, see honey, at times I get the feeling that you don’t care, and I believe that I am just another woman in your life. Then again I feel that I am, that I am all in this world that matters to you. Is it in my mind? If you would, if you would just tell me, I would understand. Because I am yours, YOU CONTROL EVERY MOVEMENT.

(In that last bit she unleashes a little of the passionate Tina we all know and love.) But I can’t blame her for going crazy, because this guy sounds like a jerk. In fact, the song this reminds me of is that country song “Psycho” that Elvis Costello covered on Almost Blue. Both songs’ lyrics are the ramblings of unstable minds.

I realize that lots of pop songs describe relationships that any sane person would describe as unhealthy. But “Letter to Tina” gives me pause. I don’t know whether Ike wrote this song, but even if he didn’t it shows an astounding lack of self-awareness that he would have Tina record this plea for love to a womanizing control freak.

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