Saturday, March 1, 2008

Nutbush City Limits, Ike & Tina Turner (1973)

A church house gin house / A school house outhouse / On highway number nineteen / The people keep the city clean

One of the first truly funky songs I can remember and still relish from my college years is Nutbush City Limits, the Ike & Tina Turner classic that was an homage to Tina's Tennessee hometown.

Although they had bigger hits, there was no better song to shake a tail feather to than this one. Significant too because it was written by her instead of Ike and would be the last big hit they would have before their relationship disintegrated altogether, it was a rhythmic marvel and transformed me into a Tina-esque whirling dervish whenever I heard it.

Tina could belt out a song like nobody's business. And however debilitated he was by drugs, Ike was an innovative, exciting guitar player and arranger who fed a synthesizer through a wah-wah pedal to make this song a true original.

In her autobiography, I, Tina: My Life Story, Turner notes that it was around the time Nutbush came out that she was really starting to come to serious grips with how she was being dominated by Ike in her life and career. In retrospect it certainly seems a turning point in her move toward independence. Yet the two together changed the face of the soul music scene and that is their legacy.

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