"Nutbush City Limits" is a semi-autobiographical song written and originally performed by Tina Turner in which she commemorates her rural hometown of Nutbush, Tennessee. Released June 1973, shortly before her separation from then-husband and musical partner Ike Turner, "Nutbush City Limits" was the last hit single the duo would produce together. In the years since, "Nutbush City Limits" has been covered by a number of other artists—most notably Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band—and Tina Turner herself has re-recorded several different versions of the song. As an unincorporated rural community, Nutbush does not officially have "city limits"; rather, its boundaries are described by "Nutbush—Unincorporated" signs posted on the local highway.
The first recording of "Nutbush City Limits" was produced by Ike Turner at his Inglewood, California facility, Bolic Sound Studio, in May 1973 and released as a single the following month by the couple under their professional name, Ike & Tina Turner. Though Ike composed the music, he did not list his name in the credits alongside Tina, who wrote the lyrics. This version is characterized by inventive guitar sounds, a substantial synthesizer solo, and a funky brass section.
The song later appeared on their album of the same title, released November 1973, and proved to be the duo's final significant chart hit, reaching #11 on BillboardHot Soul Singles, #22 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #4 on the UK Singles Chart. The album also appeared on the Billboard Soul LPs chart, peaking at #21 during its run. Following the couple's split, the song became a staple of Tina's live show where she reworked the funky studio version into a hard-driving rock and roll showstopper.
Typical of the period, none of the session musicians who contributed to "Nutbush City Limits" were given specific mention in the song credits. It has been rumored for years that Marc Bolan, frontman for the glam rock band T. Rex, played guitar on the track.Gloria Jones, his girlfriend at the time—who herself provided backing vocals for Ike & Tina Turner during the 1960s—asserted that this was the case in the 2007 BBC4 documentary Marc Bolan: The Final Word.[verification needed] This claim is bolstered by the fact that Bolan toured the U.S. extensively and resided in the Los Angeles area during the mid-1970s, and is also acknowledged to have played on the Ike & Tina Turner singles "Sexy Ida (Part 2)" and "Baby—Get It On". However, a 2008 Ebony magazine article about Ike Turner's death identified James "Bino" Lewis, then a member of Ike & Tina's backing band Kings of Rhythm, as the guitarist.
A live recording of "Nutbush City Limits" from Turner's 1986–1987 Break Every Rule Tour was released as the lead single to promote the 1988 double album Tina Live in Europe, but it was in fact a different recording than the one that appeared on the official concert album. While this version did not manage to register much of an impact on any charts, the single is notable for being one of the very first by Turner to be released on compact disc, at that time a relatively new format, in addition to 7" and 3-track 12" vinyl editions.
Turner re-recorded "Nutbush City Limits" in a modern dance style—subtitled "The 90s Version"—for inclusion on her 1991 compilation album Simply the Best. Upon its release as a single, the song peaked at #23 on the UK Singles Chart and was a Top 20 hit in several other European countries. A different rendition, entitled "Nutbush City Limits ('91)", appeared alongside "The 90s Version". This funkier yet more laid-back arrangement is actually the one for which Turner recorded new vocals that were later remixed by producers Chris "C. J." Mackintosh and Dave Dorrell to become "The 90s Version". The 12" single also featured an extended six-minute version of the dance remix, and a limited-release promotional DJ edition from the UK included still another take, "A Little Bit o' Bush". The corresponding music video for "The 90s Version" shows Turner recording the song in studio, intercut with footage of the various landmarks mentioned.
Nutbush, an unincorporated town in Haywood County, Tennessee, located 75 miles (120.7 km) northeast of Memphis, is the childhood home of singer Tina Turner described in her 1973 song, "Nutbush City Limits". The town does not have "city limits" per se; however, "Nutbush—Unincorporated" signs are posted on the adjoining roads.
Nutbush is located near the junction of Tennessee State Routes 180 and 19, the latter of which is referenced in the song as "highway number nineteen" (mistakenly called "U.S. Route 19" in Seger's version), with a noted speed limit of 25 mph (40 km/h) ("twenty-five was the speed limit"), which is currently 45 mph (72 km/h).
In 2002, a nine-mile (14.5 km) segment of State Route 19 between Nutbush and Brownsville was officially designated "Tina Turner Highway" to honor the singer.
^ abZhito, Lee, ed. (November 17, 1973). "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard (Los Angeles, CA: Billboard Publications) 85 (46): 64. ISSN0006-2510. Retrieved April 13, 2013. Listed a total of 15 weeks, entering at #89 the week ending September 8, 1973, and reaching peak position at #22 the week ending November 17, 1973.
^ abZhito, Lee, ed. (October 20, 1973). "Billboard Hits of the World: Britain". Billboard (Los Angeles, CA: Billboard Publications) 85 (42): 61. ISSN0006-2510. Retrieved April 13, 2013. Listed a total of 13 weeks, entering at #47 the week ending September 15, 1973, and reaching peak position at #4 the week ending October 20, 1973, where it remained for two weeks.
^Zhito, Lee, ed. (February 16, 1974). "Billboard Soul LPs". Billboard (Los Angeles, CA: Billboard Publications) 86 (7): 25. ISSN0006-2510. Retrieved April 13, 2013. Listed a total of 13 weeks, entering at #49 the week ending December 15, 1973, and reaching peak position at #21 the week ending February 16, 1974.