Beyonce never does anything halfway, and never until she’s ready. So it’s no big surprise that she paid a musical tribute to her idol Tina Turner several days after the icon’s death last Wednesday — and with a stripped-down version of the song that’s not only the most complex musically from Turner’s catalog, but one of the most complicated hit singles of all time: “River Deep – Mountain High”, the 1966 hit written by Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry with producer Phil Spector.
Beyonce performed the song on Monday during the first show of her five-night stand at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“I want you to help me sing one of my favorite songs,” Beyonce told the crowd. “We love you, Tina.”
While the original version is a dizzying opus filled with dozens of musicians and tempo changes centering on Tina Turner’s gorgeous vocals, Beyonce made the song like a ballad, accompanied by piano, occasional drums and (presumably) keyboards. playing the orchestral parts.
The fact that she covered the song in London was also fitting: while Spector was one of the most successful hitmakers in history, his behavior became increasingly erratic throughout the 1960s (he was convicted of murdering a woman in 2003) and the American music and radio industries began to turn against him. He considered “River Deep” his magnum opus, but the song was not a hit in the United States, both due to its complexity and rejection by the industry. However, it was a top five hit in Europe and reached No. 3 in the UK. The song has since achieved historic status and was ranked No. 33 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2004 list of the greatest songs of all time.
Beyonce paid tribute to Turner, who died at the age of 83 after a long illness, last week with a post on her website.
“My beloved queen. I love you so much,” she wrote. “I am so grateful for your inspiration and all the ways you have paved the way. You are strength and resilience. You are the embodiment of power and passion. We are all so lucky to have witnessed your kindness and beautiful spirit that will remain forever. Thank you for all you have done.”
The two performed together at the Grammy Awards in 2008, soaring through a version of “Proud Mary,” Turner’s hit 1971 cover of the classic Creedence Clearwater Revival. Three years earlier, Beyonce paid tribute to Turner by performing the song solo at the 2005 Kennedy Center Honors.
She also spoke about Turner at a concert in Paris last week. “I just want to take a second and honor Tina Turner,” she told the crowd. “If you’re a fan of me, you’re a fan of Tina Turner. I wouldn’t be on this stage without Tina Turner, so I want you to scream, so she can feel your love. I feel so blessed to have been able to witness his genius.
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