To begin – let me say that although it was a dream come true to finally see TUCKER in person, I was also sicker than a dog. I couldn’t let my state of exhaustion stop me from getting to see this phenomenal force in country music in person – after all I figured I may never get that chance again!
I’ve been thinking a lot about TUCKER and her performance Friday night, as it did certainly leave a lasting impression. I am a true fan of her vast catalog of music, which all began in 1972 when a 13 year old girl put out a hit song called DELTA DAWN. TANYA TUCKER stated as much in between songs last night that her career was the stuff dreams were made of. You also get the sense that she loves to look back on those times respectfully – and is someone who still lives and breathes her love of country music. It should also be noted that TUCKER became one of the few child performers to mature into adulthood without losing her audience, and during the course of her career, she notched a streak of Top 10 and Top 40 hits. You also have to appreciate that at the time this 13 year old was making records like WOULD YOU LAY WiTH ME (iN A FiELD OF STONE) – she was doing so alongside many legendary greats of country music, like CASH, MERLE HAGGARD, MEL TiLLiS and GEORGE JONES – all of whom were older and musicians she admired post her own fame.
Keep in mind that my thoughts come from the perspective of a particular TANYA TUCKER fan; I’m familiar with her entire career of music, enjoyed her 1997 tell-all auto biography NiCKEL DREAMS – and I think she was one of the hottest chicks from that NEW BREED of COUNTRY MUSiC that came from the early 1970’s. Today I also think she is incredibly underrated; something about seeing her at the Carp Fair solidified this. I’m not unfamiliar with the fact that the music business in general is challenging and fickle. I know TUCKER hasn’t necessarily had a hit song in years, nor is she present in today’s music market. This aside however I was still mildly disappointed to see the smallish crowd of fans clamor into the arena, most of which were seniors and drunken, middle-aged red necks. I’m sorry – but it’s true. What did I expect right? It saddened me ever so slightly – only because TANYA TUCKER iS A LiViNG LEGEND PEOPLE SHOULD APPRECiATE - and she deserves major props. So she’s not selling albums like CARRiE UNDERWOOD anymore but mark my word, when TANYA TUCKER goes, so does the end of what I think was a beautiful era of country music. I hope she can get adequate recognition at least once more before that time comes. She should be filling huge arenas.
Listen to me! Perhaps I sound slightly morbid – but I can explain. Part of this rising sentiment comes right from last night’s experience seeing her live.
I’m going to start with the positives. First of all – TUCKER performed familiar songs that most fans would expect. From TROUBLE, WALKiNG SHOES, and STRONG ENOUGH TO BEND, her voice remains amazing and this professional knows how to control her vocals impeccably. In fact, there was a moment where she sang OH WHAT iT DiD TO ME when I was so in the ‘moment’ with her, if you will (I was literally crouched down in front of the stage staring up at her) that I even teared up. Why? Quite frankly the wave of emotion was because she is extraordinary – but also because I recognized the moment as a dream come true. I’ll remember that moment forever.
TANYA also possesses a lot of that same old swag she had in the 1970’s and 80’s. Although not quite in the same physical shape (she is now pushing 53), her ability to move on stage and do so with appeal remind me of the days when tabloids referred to her as a TEXAS TORNADO; notoriously bouncing around Hollywood with the likes of GLEN CAMPBELL, causing a raucous as much for her private life as her professional. I’ll always love this aspect of her character.
Finally, what I appreciated between songs and swagger were her candid stories of the golden age of NASHViLLE and country music. Clearly you can tell that TUCKER is as devoted to country and her fans as she ever was. I was reminded of how in NiCKEL DREAMS she spoke very highly of her father BEAU TUCKER – a hard working man who basically broke down doors trying to pitch his young and talented daughter to music executives to get her a record deal. NiCKEL DREAMS informed me she was unique in many ways – but that she did and still does possess much respect for those before her, those who got her where she is – and those relics of country music that informed the singer she became in her own right. This is another aspect of what I love about her.
I was struck with this immediate sense mid-way through her set that TUCKER speaks of such glory days with a hint of sadness and loss. For one thing she was under the weather – even stating as much to the audience. It turns out she would have canceled the show due to a nasty bug but successfully pulled it together in time for Carp Fair. With a few messy starts it was apparent she had not fully recuperated and it only began to show more, at least to me. Then again, I see everything ….
Like I stated, her performances were always point-on. It was within her dialogue she revealed much more. For example, speaking briefly of legendary producer JERRY CRUCHFiELD (producer of her earlier hits) she lamented on how meaningful those earlier experiences were – but also with a strange tinge of sadness, almost mourning. Just having flown in from NASHViLLE, TUCKER also made mention of a visit she made to GLEN CAMPBELL, whom she’ll forever be infamously connected with because of their torrid affair in the early 1980’s. These stories will always be remembered but when TUCKER talks about CAMPBELL today (CAMPBELL is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease) she again does so with a real undercurrent of lonesomeness and difficulty. It’s almost as though she wears the pain of accepting the passing of time on her sleeve.
The biggest indication that something is just not right with TANYA TUCKER these days – comes straight from the horse’s mouth. TUCKER’S devoted father BEAU passed away not 2 years ago, and before giving a shortened and shaky version of TWO SPARROW iN A HURRiCANE she admitted that this loss hit hard and has ultimately changed her outlook on life, admitting “I’ve lost my mojo…”. It was both touching and … well for me, sad. I had always seen TUCKER as a tough-ass broad with booty and hardiness. Before me however, I was looking at a woman affected by these losses; perhaps watching those who she was ever so close to in her childhood career pass away has exposed her vulnerabilities? This could just be the social worker in me talking…. When I stop to think about it – I suppose I only see this aspect the way I do because not so long ago we lost both my Grandpa Stan and Grandma Mary. It devastated my mother, who said something very similar in regards to losing her mojo – and I know my mom would understand where TUCKER is coming from. I’ve never lost on that level – but I can’t imagine how it would impact me. TUCKER went from a icon – to human in my eyes. In the flesh to boot.
Closing the show with DELTA DAWN the song that started it all, TUCKER sang the infamous opening lines “She’s 41 and her Daddy still calls her Baby/ All the folks around Brownsville say she’s crazy/Cuz she walks around town with a suitcase in her hand/Looking for a mysterious, dark haired man”. At one time a 13 year old girl who sang songs telling mythic stories in a reedy voice that belied her age sang about this old crazy broad named Delta Dawn – fast-forward to today and its a 53 year old woman. Themes of loneliness, loss of youth, losing your mind – all run around in my congested mind – and to quote CARRiE BRADSHAW, I couldn’t help but wonder – is TANYA TUCKER losing it??? I sincerely hope not. I’m not ready to lose HER yet.
Ultimately I hope my girl can get it together. If you’re out there and reading this TANYA – know that these thoughts are merely the ratings of boy/man who is as devoted to you and your music as you were to country music. Keep it together and know that regardless of the passing of time and the losses that come with it you have left your mark on country music – let’s just hope you get your MOJO back in time to shove some more incredible music down our throats. I know I’ll be anxiously waiting!