2016 took Prince, Bowie, and Leonard Cohen.
Even the New York Times admits it was a tough year for pop music: "Death may be the great equalizer, but it isn’t necessarily evenhanded. Of all the fields of endeavor that suffered mortal losses in 2016 — consider Muhammad Ali and Arnold Palmer in sports and the back-to-back daughter-mother Hollywood deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds — the pop music world had, hands down, the bleakest year."
Tina is 77 years old.
I cringe at the thought of reading the tweet that tells me she's dead.
And yet, I am acutely aware that she is dying every day. So am I.
One of my secret dreams is to bring Tina out of retirement.
I envision collecting a handful of songs that are undeniably good and from realms other than straight-up pop. Her voice, a killing band, restrained arrangements, the effect would be startling and stunning. If you're familiar with Joni Mitchell's song Edith and the Kingpin Tina sang on Herbie Hancock's The River album, then you get where I am going with this.
Akin to the album legendary producer Rick Rubin made with Johnny Cash near the end of Cash's life, my project would cast Tina's voice and artistry in a whole new light. Rubin said he wanted to work with Cash because it would be an "exciting challenge to work with ... a legendary artist who might not be in the best place in his career at the moment. The first person who came to mind was Johnny, in terms of greatness and in terms of maybe, at that moment, not doing his best work."
Why a producer with major connections and chops isn't doing a project like this with Tina is beyond me. It is such a slam dunk! She's been out of the picture for long enough that her return would be triumphal. She is beloved by all. Vocally no one can touch her. And the culture at large is overripe for everything she represents -- attitude, mature sexiness, gravitas. If in 2016 we remembered that "the future is female," who represents female feistiness more than Tina Turner?
Maybe Tina is in a studio in Switzerland right now, doing just this type of project with some hot shot producer. I hope so!
I'm not attached to it being me who makes this dream real. To paraphrase the Cult of Done Manifesto, if publishing something on the internet counts as the "ghost" of it being done, then I proclaim this project done. I set this idea free.
Take it, run with it, make it real. Please.
What I am attached to is Tina being back in our lives, fully, richly, and with a set of songs that matches not only her moxie but also her maturity.
Maybe she doesn't want to be out there doing this kind of thing now. Maybe the time, money, people, or songs haven't been right so far. Maybe she's over it -- all of it.
What I do know is that her music changed my life.
And while she and I still have lives, I can hope and dream.
(It goes without saying, if you want to help me make this dream a reality, please be in touch. I am dead serious about it happening before it's too late.)
2. LISTENING: The Podcast On Being with Krista Tippett
If you don't already know about On Being, then get ready to go down a rabbit hole of nuanced, thoughtful, deep conversation about what it means to be human and how that question is lived out. On Being explores "these questions in their richness and complexity in 21st-century lives and endeavors. We pursue wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge; we esteem nuance and poetry as much as fact."
The host Krista Tippett is a gem. She's created a home for the knotty issues and ideas about living and how we do it. She lets silence do the work. She's unafraid of the meandering thought. She allows her conversations go where they need to and, thus, her show is filled with moments of delight and wonder.
Here are three interviews that are not to be missed:
Yo Yo Ma - Music Happens Between the Notes
Ann Hamilton - Making and the Spaces We Share
Gordon Hempton - Silence and the Presence of Everything
[Pro Tip: I prefer -- in almost all cases -- to listen to the unedited version of her interviews. There are so many diamonds left on the cutting room floor.]
3. LISTENING: The talks of Tara Brach
The eminent psychologist Carl Rogers wrote: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
More than a year ago I committed to meditating and practicing my guitar every day. In case you missed it, I wrote about that decision and the journey in a post called "401 Days in a Row."
I'm still going strong and one reason why is because of Tara Brach's podcast.
Tara has a PhD in psychotherapy, lived for ten years at an ashram, and trained for five years at the Buddhist teacher training program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. In 1998, she founded the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC, now one of the largest and most dynamic non-residential meditation centers in the U.S. She's a broadminded, uniquely talented spiritual leader.
Her biggest gift is the way she combines psychology with eastern spiritual ideas, weaving the two traditions into something she calls radical acceptance -- "clearly recognizing what we are feeling in the present moment and regarding that experience with compassion."
She's got a great sense of humor and a relaxed, comfortable intensity about her. She doesn't take herself too seriously even as she asks probing questions about our habitual actions and reactions and uses moments of silence, reflection, and meditation to nurture change, wholeness, genuine acceptance, and inner freedom.
A few of the talks I return to again and again (so much so that I can recite her jokes along with her) are:
Stress and Everyday Nirvana - Part I and Part 2
Your Future Self
Loving the Life Within Us
The Bird Got My Wings
[Side note: Since this M3T features podcasts, I'll double down and include an interview with Tara on Tim Ferriss's wildly popular podcast.]
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I'd love to know what podcasts (and a favorite episode or two) you're listening to. Let me know in comments below.