Tina Turner has proved herself to be one of the most endearing singers of the last 60 years. She is often called a survivor, and there is some truth in that. Since she first arrived on the scene with then-husband Ike, she has sold over 200 million records. Not bad for a girl from such a humble start in life in Nutbush, Tennessee.
She has created an impressive catalog of music, and I am going to look at the best Tina Turner songs of all time. In my opinion, of course. So, don’t be surprised if this list doesn’t include all of Tina Turner’s biggest selling songs.
- It Never Goes Away
- Going On Her Own
- Not All Great Days
- Top 10 Best Tina Turner Songs of All Time
- The Times They Are A’Changin’
- Looking for More Great Songs?
- Best Tina Turner Songs of All Time – Conclusion
It Never Goes Away
The bad things that happened to her in the past are never far away. Always just around the corner. And, they can sometimes appear just when she doesn’t need them to. I suppose the fact that she handles them so well is a testament to her own personal strength.
If you happen to know anyone that has worked with her or who knows her, they will tell you a similar story. Writers and commentators will say she has “overcome” these things. But she hasn’t overcome them at all. They are still there. She has learned how to deal with them. That is a different thing.
Going On Her Own
Leaving her embattled marriage was a tough decision and one that could have backfired professionally. After all, he was a “big name” at the time. But, since that 1978 decision, she has produced some great work and, more importantly, great live shows.
Not All Great Days
She has had days when she has been at the top of the game, and days when she wasn’t. She’s gone through a couple of periods in her career where she wasn’t the big star anymore. It hasn’t always been great. Yet, somehow, she always found her way back.
I was lucky to catch one of her live shows at Wembley. A few of us had got invites, so we sat very near the action. It was just amazing. She was over 60 and made some other so-called stars half her age look, pedestrian. Soaked in sweat, she had to change costumes four or five times. One live concert I shall always remember.
She has been comfortable in a variety of genres as well. It hasn’t all been the hard-driving rocker that we know. And now, at the grand old age of 83, she is enjoying a well-earned rest. She loved to perform, but it has taken its toll, and perhaps she isn’t in the best of health these days.
Ms. Turner lives beside a beautiful lake in Switzerland with her German husband, Erwin. She has even received Swiss nationality. She is happy now. Is there anything else we could wish for the “Queen of Rock”?
Probably not; she’s given us so much already. So, let’s take a trip through the extensive catalog of great songs by Tina Turner and choose just a few.
Top 10 Best Tina Turner Songs of All Time
This is one of Tina Turner’s most famous songs. A simple but pacy rocker written about her ultra-religious rural hometown in Tennessee. As an unincorporated rural community, it doesn’t have city limits, just boundaries. Not many lyrics to tell a story, but rather statements that give us a picture.
Oddly enough, she released it twice. The first time was in 1973, with Ike, where it was the last single they did together. It was a big hit in the UK, where it got to #4, but not so much in America, where it peaked at #22. The 1991 version was less successful.
It is one of those songs where as soon as it starts, and before there is even any singing, you know exactly who it is. And, of course, you know exactly what you’re going to get. Great track that at the time laid down a rock n roll marker.
Not many people know that whilst this was one of Tina Turner’s most loved songs, it was a cover song. The original had been released two years earlier by Welsh rocker Bonnie Tyler. Bonnie’s version didn’t do so well. Tina’s version went to #5 in the UK and #15 in America.
Tina’s version came out in 1989. She was on a resurgence in popularity. Especially in Europe, where the song outsold the American release. A song now that is instantly her own and was hugely popular in her live shows.
According to Oprah Winfrey, this is the best Tina Turner song ever. Well, such an expert can’t be wrong, can she? This was taken from her album, Private Dancer, and was released in 1984. It turned out to be one of her most successful songs, but not the best she did.
The song was offered to Cliff Richard first, but I can’t see how that would have worked. Offers were also made to Donna Summer and several others before it got round to Tina.
It did quite a lot…
This song went to #1 in America, Canada, and Australia. It is a good song, and it is puzzling why so many people turned it down. Nevertheless, their loss was Tina’s again. Subsequently, after 1984, it became a fixture in her stage set.
It was used as part of the soundtrack for the film about her life. Without question, one of the best Tina Turner songs of all time. But, in my opinion, there are better ones to come.
This was taken from her 1989 album, Foreign Affair. It was written by one of my heroes, Tony Joe White. Once again, it was more successful in Europe than in America. It signaled a potential change in her style, with this almost swamp rock/blues approach, but that never materialized.
It’s a track that has Tony Joe written all over it. The type of song that very few, other than him, can write and make a sound like this. Powerful, simple, straight-four drums, laid back but efficient bass, and that Fender twang. Can’t beat it.
I had an interesting discussion with an American girl who sat next to me at the Wembley concert. She insisted that “Proud Mary” was only sung by Tina Turner and that she thought she wrote it. In reality, she wasn’t the first, second, or even third artist to record it.
Plenty of Covers
This may be one of the most covered songs of all time. I could never list all the versions, but there are two that I particularly enjoy:
John Fogerty wrote the song, and Creedence Clearwater Revival recorded it in 1968. It was released in 1969, reaching #8 in the UK and #2 in America. Tina and Ike got round to releasing it on their album, Workin’ Together, in 1971.
This Rock n Roll…
The much-changed version we all know came along much later in 1993. It became a permanent and much-awaited song in every concert, as you can see in Tina Turner: Live In Amsterdam/One Last Time.
Once the slow start is over, she drives the performance along in a way that John Fogerty could never have envisioned. And, probably, if the truth were known, wouldn’t have chosen himself. But, this is Tina and this Rock n Roll. And, with this song, in front of a baying audience, no one does it better.
If, in future years, people might say, “So who was Tina, was she any good?” Just play them this track from either the Amsterdam show or the Wembley, London concerts. You won’t need to say anything else.
Not that many of Tina’s songs didn’t have power up to this point, but this went a stage further. The power ballad was becoming a genre, and this song sat right in what might be called a good example.
It was the soundtrack of a 1985 Mad Max film. That introduced her to a whole new audience who might have been unfamiliar with her work. Of course, it became a big hit. Number One in Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and Germany. In America, it went to #2, and it was a top ten song in the UK.
If she needed a little bit of success and impetus as she edged towards her 50 years. This was it. Furthermore, the continual popularity of this track makes it one of the best Tina Turner songs of all time.
A year before ‘”We Don’t Need Another Hero,” things were a little more laid back. 1984 saw the release of another one of Tina Turner’s most popular songs and certainly one of her best. It was a single taken from the album of the same name, Private Dancer.
It was the fifth single from this album, which does seem a little much. But, I suppose if the songs are good enough, then why not.
It had been a little bit of a struggle since the split with Ike. However, this song, and this album, were probably what propelled her into a recognized solo artist. The songs were recorded in the UK, some at Abbey Road.
More British Contributions
Her record company’s choice of studios was only part of the British contribution that proved so important to the album and its tracks.
Interestingly, “Private Dancer” was written by Mark Knopfler. It seems light years away from his usual style with Dire Straits. Another British great, Jeff Beck, played the guitar solo.
This album did see a change of direction for her in some ways. Rock n Roll took a back seat, and a smooth, almost jazzy side emerged. It proved to be a successful song and a very successful album.
Another track from the Private Dancer album. It was a cover of a song that was released by Ann Peebles. Turner’s distinctive vocals added a lot to the song. It wasn’t a commercial success, but that isn’t why I included it.
This song shows her trying to change the mood and move away from the “Ike years.” That was important for her because she had to change public perception. She was no longer “Ike’s singer”; she was Tina. It reached #38 on the American chart.
The Times They Are A’Changin’
Private Dancer may have been the first recognizable move away from her past life, but it wasn’t her last. She had done great work in The Who’s “Tommy,” playing the Acid Queen, but a change had to come.
Some great albums followed with a more laid-back approach to most of the tracks. A special highlight was the album Foreign Affair. That included a few more rather adventurous tracks. But, this is Tina Turner we are talking about.
She is a Rock icon. And, inside, she must have been chomping at the bit to go back to what she does best and lay down some serious stuff. All the time that the slightly more mellow Tina was selling like crazy, she seemed to be preparing us for what was to come.
She started to include this song in her stage act as early as 1986. The year after “Private Dancer.” Although, it was another two years before there was a recorded version to get excited about.
Back doing what she loved…
This was the “new” Tina going back to her raunchy rock days. Almost saying to Ike, “watch this.” This track and the performance proved she could still do it and didn’t need any help.
I say “no help,” but she had, by the 2000 world tour, recruited some of the best musicians, backing singers, and dancers around. This was a rock show pure and simple, and I mean show. And, of course, “Addicted To Love” was one of the highlights.
One To Treasure
Her vocal performance on this song, especially live, demonstrated how good she was. The slower, moody, and slightly jazzy “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and “Private Dancer” were good tracks. But, this is Tina, and this is what she was born to do. And she knew it.
She played the part, acting it up, teasing the audience, and letting rip on that vocal. Enormous drums and a great horn section made this one to treasure.
I have mentioned on a couple of occasions how she needed to break the mold and create her own style. She did that. By that tour in 2000, Ike was firmly in the past.
Her troubles still came back to haunt her, as we have mentioned. But, she was on her own now and deserved that “Queen of Rock” title.
This song, though, goes back to those early days in 1966, and it has never lost its magic. But, it is a much later version that I have included here. This is Tina Turner in full flow and free of any controlling shackles that Ike placed upon her.
The original song was produced by Phil Spector. And, even in the studio, Ike was trying to control everything. Spectator paid him $20,000 to stay away.
Simply The Best?
Probably, because it is “her.” No other song she has recorded or performed says it more. And, even up to the very last concert, she was still belting it out. As soon as the overdriven guitar starts, the song says – “I am Tina.”
Looking for More Great Songs?
We can help with that. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Mary J. Blige Songs of All-Time, the Best Fleetwood Mac Songs, the Best Cat Stevens Songs of All Time, the Best Chicago Songs of All Time, and the Best Gloria Estefan Songs of All Time for more great song selections.
Also, you need to listen to those jams. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Loudest Portable Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best Party Speakers, the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers, and the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers you can buy in 2023.
And, don’t miss our comprehensive reviews of the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Best Headphones for Music, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best Bass Earbuds, and the Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $100 currently on the market.
Best Tina Turner Songs of All Time – Conclusion
So, we reach the end of a journey that could have gone on much longer but had to be kept within certain guidelines. The musical story of an “artist,” and there aren’t many of those, told through her greatest tracks.
One of the greatest rockers for fifty years. And, if she had her way, she would still be up there.
Those days are gone now, of course, but let’s just finish with this. She left us with a body of work like very few artists, for which we should be grateful. And, as I said earlier, she is happy in her retirement. Long may it last.
Until next time, happy listening.