The Song: “The Best”, a 1988 song written by Mike Chapman and Holly Knight for Bonnie Tyler, but more memorably belted out at bowel-loosening decibelature the following year by the indomitable Tina Turner, whose admirable commitment to volume and the moment cannot disguise the bustworthiness of a certain lyric.
The Culprit: “I hang on every word you say.”
At first glance this seems nothing more than the hyperbole you say to your lover in the first throes of togetherness—indeed, it’s ludicrous to imagine expressing such a sentiment after twenty years of married white noise. But upon closer examination, this is concentration run amok—even the most deliriously devoted lover is going to struggle to adhere to such a proclamation. With our earplugs at the ready, we examine what Tina’s really committing herself to.
The Man With the Golden Tongue.
It’s no secret that men like to be listened to when they hold forth, have someone look interested and nod in the right places. Wives, kids and bartenders know this, and long ago mastered the outward appearance of attentiveness while mentally absconding to some inner sanctuary beyond the reach of rants against the government and tales involving the word “solenoid”.
Not Tina. She’s not content to listen dutifully, or even raptly, she’s hanging off every word he says. For Tina, every utterance is a revelation. “I gotta go to the can” assumes the same gravitas as the Gettysburg Address. With such an undiscerning audience he would undoubtedly be the envy of his buddies.
The only problem is, for her to hang off every word, she’s got to be there for every word, and this is where the problems start (leaving aside the hideous implications of whether he talks in his sleep). Whether he’s trying to have a conversation with friends, his doctor, or his boss, Tina’s right by his side, a look of unalloyed wonder on her face as he relates fishing tales, explains the rash that just won’t go away, or asks for a raise.
How long will it take for the heady rush of idolatry to wear off?
A Tina for All Occasions.
It largely depends on what this guy does for a living. What if he’s a doctor? It’s hard to imagine a more startling sight as one is wheeled into surgery than Tina Turner perched next to the anaesthetist, dressed as Aunty Entity from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and staring unwaveringly at the surgeon as he calls for a wipe.
Funeral director? Hard to observe the proper mourning protocol when Turner’s parked herself on grandma’s coffin, listening with frightening intensity to the eulogy of a woman she never met. Laying coaxial cable? She’s right in amongst it; mild distraction at best, obstructive nuisance at worst.
The only role befitting such an insane commitment to listening with a total lack of discernment is politician’s wife, but it is beyond the realm of believability that anyone will think a politician can be described as “the best” with a straight face. At the risk of a premature ‘busting, we must assume Tina’s beau isn’t running for office.
Nutcase, Hits Her Limit.
With the novelty of feeling like a celebrity waning in the face of the abject lack of privacy, the relationship is bound to become fraught—how does he explain her presence to people in a way that doesn’t offend her?
“You-know-who is starting to drive me nuts-” he begins, but there she is, listening raptly to his feeble attempt at dissembling. In fact, it probably doesn’t matter if he comes right out and says it—“Tina’s driving me fucking batshit”—because she’s hanging off every word he says, regardless of whether it’s insulting or rude.
Unable to just have a relaxed conversation, the bedrock of a successful relationship, it would seem Splitsville is the inevitable destination, but what possible words could he say to break up with her? “Tina, we have to talk…” But that’s what got him into this hellish mess.
Continuing the existential horror, if every word has equal weight, then nothing has true importance. “Help Tina, I’m having a heart attack” has the same emotional impact as “Pass me the mango chutney”—there is simply no way to impress upon Tina that some things are more important than others.
Let’s flip it around. If there was such a man who felt that announcing his toilet habits warranted a look of adulation, then does she really want to be with such a guy? Is he really the best? Or is he simply a sad, insecure creature in need of constant reassurance of his own worth? And if he is, then why is she singing about him? While “Oooooh, you’re the neediest! Needier than all the rest!” doesn’t have the same ring to it, it certainly seems closer to the truth.
The fact is, Tina has established beyond any doubt—usually at the volume of a jet taking off—that she is anything but an undiscerning lapdog to an insecure man, which does more to bust this lyric than anything we could ever come up with—LYRICBUSTED!