Tanya Tucker isn’t ashamed to tell anybody that she’s a country singer


By Steve Newton

Although only 24, singer/actress Tanya Tucker has already spent half her life in the fast lane of the entertainment business. And the title of her latest album, Changes, is a testimony to what she has gone through since stepping into the spotlight at the tender age of 12.

While still a pre-teen Tucker got her first recording contract, and three months after that signing she was in a Nashville studio making a #1 country hit with “Delta Dawn”, the same song that would later bring fame to Australian singer Helen Reddy.

With her first label, Columbia Records, Tucker had hits with such songs as “Would You Lay With Me (in a Field of Stone)” and “I Believe the South Is Gonna Rise Again”. On the day she turned 16 she signed with MCA Records and got her first exposure to the Los Angeles recording scene.

According to Tucker, the L.A. atmosphere lacked the musical spontaneity to which she had grown accustomed in Nashville, but despite her initial misgivings the first MCA album yielded the hits “Lizzie and the Rainman” and “San Antonio Stroll”, to be followed later by “You Got Me to Hold On To”, “Here’s Some Love”, and a personal favourite of the Texas native, “Texas (When I Die)”.

Before switching to her current record company, Arista, Tucker branched out into acting, starring in the TV movie Georgia Peaches. Says she, “Singing is a form of acting, but the two are totally different. When you’re singing you’re acting out a song, but when you’re acting it’s like, ‘Okay…Go! Cry! Laugh! Get in that mood! Feel this!’

“And there are so many different ways to say ‘hello’, so many different ways to say ‘I love you’, so many different ways to say anything, that there will always be one way the director wants it and another way that you do.”

Through various television specials and talk shows, not to mention magazine articles, Tucker has become widely known. But she doesn’t intend to stop at just recording and television; she has her sights set on the movie business as well.

“I’m reading a few scripts, but good films and good parts are just as hard, or harder to find, than good songs. So I’m going to wait for that right part to come along and calculate each step that I take.

“My favourite actress would have to be Susan Hayward, and I figure that if I can’t act on that level I don’t want to do it at all. It’s the same way with singing. If I can’t be among the best, I don’t want to be in there at all.”

Tucket’s acting goals may be ambitious, but she is already one of the most popular of today’s female country singers. And one reason for that popularity is the care she takes in choosing songs. One of those that she picked for the Changes album is Jerry Reed’s “A Thing Called Love”.

“For some reason,” says Tucker, “I like male songs. I like to sing a male attitude but with my voice. I like to do songs that girls have never done, and ‘A Thing Called Love’ is one of them. I’ve never heard another girl do that song. I really like what the song has to say about life in general. I think it’s a great attitude song. Jerry Reed’s a super writer–the Alabama Wildman.”

The only song on Changes that Tucker does get songwriting credit for is the title track, and, as she relates, it’s a highly personal composition.

“When I wrote ‘Changes’ I’d had the idea for a long time. In my personal life, with the National Enquirer and all those magazines really building it up, everybody knew I was going through a lot of changes. So I decided to write them out in a song.”

As well as the pop and country tunes on Changes there are two that rock, “Until You’re Mine” and “Feel Right”. Says Tucker, “They’re sort of fifties-sounding, more rockabilly I think than rock and roll. That’s where a lot of music is heading these days.

“I’m really into that kind of sound, always have been, and I’m glad to see it coming back. In fact, I did the Merv Griffin Show with the Stray Cats and told them that I really enjoyed their music.”

Another song that stands out on Tucker’s new album is the sultry remake of the sixties hit “Baby I’m Yours”. “But,” she says, “I didn’t really want to do that song. That was one that Clive Davis picked out–he’s the president of the record company. I like the way it came off, but it’s not one of my favourite tunes on the album.

“It’s got more of a pop flavour, and I really don’t consider myself as a pop singer. I am a country singer, that’s basically where I started out. And I’m not ashamed to tell anybody that, that’s for sure, because I really do enjoy it. A lot.”

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