Rob Ford

Rob Ford

To the graduating class of 2014, a piece of advice: listen to some Ike and Tina Turner.

You may have no idea who these people are, but take my advice; go on YouTube and find an old version of a song titled “Proud Mary” and give it a watch.

Older versions of the song were on 8-track tapes or old records but I wouldn’t bother looking for them. Just find it on the Internet and listen to it closely.

Listen closely and hear the explanation of perhaps the most valuable lesson in life.

In the Turner version of “Proud Mary,” a slow, comfortable and nearly cautious tone is set at first. The unmistakable voice of Tina Turner, accompanied by nothing more than an electric guitar and the smoky, troubled backup vocal of Ike Turner.

Tina’s captivating setup goes “This is something we’d like to do nice … and easy.” Followed by, “But we never do anything nice and easy, so we’re going to finish it nice … and rough.”

The first minute or so of the song is intentionally slow and just smolders as it comes to a coasting stop with Ike’s low and bluesy vocal; “rollin’ on the ri … ver.”

Full stop.

You now perch on the brink of finishing a small part of what you consider your “education,” and you may feel that life has somehow been difficult. All that getting up and off to school on time, all of that homework, all of those after school activities and all of those summer vacations and jobs.

Again I say, listen to Tina Turner.

This song, this life, does start out nice and easy.

Then someone flashes the lights and the brass section joins in. The backup singers and a hard driving rhythm section show up next. In jumps a fickle job market and the high price of gas takes a solo. Listen at the next measure for the rocking out of car, house, cellphone and insurance payments.

Finally, like a brogan to the backside, the bottomless baritone saxophone ties it all together.

Double the tempo and double the fun.

School is finally out, the sun is finally shining and Tina Turner, a woman that has known her share of easy and rough times, is belting it out that it’s time to pick up the pace.

You don’t have to be fresh out of high school to appreciate what’s going on here. We can all remember the times in our lives when things were nice, easy and in perfect rhythm. We can also remember when the music stopped. Before long, life decided to jazz things up and a decent day bottomed out with all the subtlety and thump of a baritone sax.

I don’t mean to come across as frightening or even cautionary as I make my “nice and easy” to “nice and rough” convergence about the rest of your life. You know that things are about to change. Perhaps, you may have already experienced a “Proud Mary” moment or two.

My words here are meant to be nothing more than a tool to employ when your life’s tempo slips beyond your control.

I’m here to tell you that life is good. The big wheels will keep on turning and life will become even better with the living. Better yet, when life pauses or becomes rough, you will manage your way through it and you will come out better on the other side.

Congratulations on graduating everyone, and please, don’t thank me for this moment of advice.

Thank Ike and Tina Turner.

Rob Ford was born and raised in northern Michigan. He lives in Elk Rapids where he owns and operates Riverside Title. He can be reached via email at



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