Nobody was quite sure what to make of Tanya Tucker when she burst upon the Country Music scene in 1972. There had been teenagers in the music business before – Brenda Lee, for example, but this Texas native wasn’t singing two-minute innocent songs about “Sweet Nothin’”s. She was leaving little to the imagination, singing about illegitimate children, mental insanity, murder and love – of both the emotional and carnal kind.
While Country Music fans might have been used to those subjects as part of their daily intake of such popular soap operas as Days of Our Lives or Search for Tomorrow, nobody was expecting the subject matter on their local Country Radio stations at that time. But that’s what helped to shape her career — the ability to keep fans guessing. Over four decades later, the singer still evokes passion among her fans with her unique recollections about love, heartbreak, and (sometimes) life on the other side of the tracks.
Here are ten moments from the Tanya Tucker song catalog that are always well worth re-visiting. (And honorable mention to 1976’s “Spring,” a chart flop that remains a favorite among her longtime fan base, and with good reason.)
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10. Tanya Tucker – “Delta Dawn”
Alex Harvey’s lyrics about a fading Southern Belle in a small West Tennessee town two hours southwest of Nashville captivated the imaginations of country music fans throughout the world. Though Helen Reddy enjoyed a pop hit with the story song, it was Tanya Tucker who dominated the attention of journalists in 1972. What was this thirteen-year old girl — future superstar or flash in the pan? The world would soon find out!
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9. Tanya Tucker – “Texas (When I Die)”
Arguably the most traditionally country song on her 1978 declaration-of-independence album TNT, this lively Tanya Tucker song continues to please audiences for the singer around the world today — but of course, nowhere more so than in her native Lone Star state.
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8. Tanya Tucker – “Would You Lay With Me (In A Field of Stone)”
Released on New Year’s Eve 1973, this David Allan Coe composition begged the question — how could this precocious fifteen year old girl know what she was singing about? That was the opinion of half of the listeners to Country Radio at the time, while the other half looked at the song as a pledge of total devotion. Either way, the song was a hit — becoming her third No. 1 on the Country Songs chart.
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7. Tanya Tucker – “Soon”
If there was any doubt in 1973 if Tucker knew what she was singing about when it came to passionate lyrics, by 1993 she had learned every bit of their meaning and then some. This Bob Regan / Casey Kelly co-write remains one of the strongest singles of the latter part of her career, and also inspired a video that stands as one of the most steamy to air on CMT in the 1990s — or ever, really.
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6. Tanya Tucker – “I’ll Come Back As Another Woman”
In 1986, after a few years away from the charts, Tucker resurfaced on Capitol Records with the excellent Girls Like Me album. One of the hits from that disc was this blistering Tanya Tucker song performance about a woman who vows to get the ultimate revenge on her ex – and him never know it, until the damage has been done. The song showed just how much her vocal approach had matured over the years.
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5. Tanya Tucker – “Walkin’ Shoes”
The first Tanya Tucker hit of the ’90s was one of the most clever entries in her catalog. Written by Paul Kennerly, this song offered many subtle references to a breakup, including the singer wearing an “Wearing an all-over coat.” The single was the first from her brilliant Tennessee Woman disc.
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4. Tanya Tucker – “Blood Red and Goin’ Down”
Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame member Curly Putman penned this story song about a husband and father pushed to the emotional limit by his cheating spouse – in front of their young daughter. It was heavy subject matter, for sure, but Tucker handled it with the depth of an artist who had been recording for twice as long.
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3. Tanya Tucker – “What’s Your Mama’s Name”
As was the case with much of Tucker’s output for Columbia Records, this was a brilliantly written story song from the pen of veteran tunesmiths Dallas Frazier and Earl Montgomery. This epic story of Buford Wilson, a drunkard from Memphis, earned Tucker her first No. 1 record — with a performance that stands as one of the most mysterious of all time. (Until, of course, the final line of the last verse, where all is revealed.)
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2. Tanya Tucker – “Here’s Some Love”
Lyrically, there is not much that remarkable about this 1976 Tanya Tucker song. But, Jerry Crutchfield’s production, combined with the singer’s charisma and charm made for one of the most fun moments of the summer on the airwaves — causing fans to sing along, lyric for lyric. Forty years later, they are still doing just that!
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1. Tanya Tucker – “Strong Enough To Bend”
Quite possibly, Tucker couldn’t have handled the lyrics of this Beth Nielsen Chapman / Don Schlitz composition in her early career with as much believability and conviction as she did in 1988. To truly do justice to the lyrics of this song about compromise in a relationship, one needs to have lived, loved… and lost. The singer — not quite yet thirty years old — gave perhaps her most impassioned performance with this winning performance that topped the Country Songs charts in October of that year.
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