Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Private DancerReleased: 1984Charted:
This song is about either a prostitute or stripper who prefers to consider herself a "Private Dancer." It describes how empty she feels inside. It was an unlikely title track to Turner's wildly successful comeback album, as the subject matter didn't relate to the singer's life or her return to fame.
Mark Knopfler wrote this song for his band Dire Straits, but realized that it didn't work with a guy singing it, so he pitched it to Turner, who was beginning her comeback. In a 2004 interview with her fan club, Tina Turner described her reaction when Knopfler played her the song: "Mark said this song is not for a man, it's a girl's song. He recorded it but won't use it so when he put the demo on, he sung 'I'm a private dancer, dancer for money, do what you want me to do,' I told him, 'I think you're right, it's not a song for a guy. I liked it a lot. I wasn't sure whether the girl was a hooker or a very classical private dancer but I thought I'd take it."
Turner didn't realize until after this song was released that is was perceived as being about a prostitute. Early in her career, she did private shows (the musical kind) in Texas, so she saw the "private dancer" as someone who performs very innocently at these events. "I can be naive about some of these things," she said in the book Classic Albums. "I took it because it was an unusual song. I'd never sung a song like it."
Members of Dire Straits played on this track, including their bass player John Illsley and drummer Terry Williams. Jeff Beck played the guitar solo, as Mark Knopfler did not perform on it.
Turner chose this song as the title track from the album after the photo was taken for the cover. In that shot, she sits in a chair wearing a classy dress while a black cat stands in front of her, staring into the camera. She felt the photo suited the "Private Dancer" character better - it's also a more compact title than "What's Love Got To Do With It