While I'm Livin' Vinyl LP
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“Bring my flowers now while I’m livin’!” Tanya Tucker growls whilst manspreading and smoking a cigarette on a bench outside Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles. It’s not the first time she’s used the phrase, but this time she continues: “I won’t need your love when I’m gone, don’t spend your time, tears or money on my old breathless body. If your heart is in them flowers bring ‘em on”, she laughs like Sling Blade. “I wrote that one for Loretta,” she says self-consciously.
Tanya Tucker is 60. She is the original female outlaw. She’s a legend... a young one, but a legend, nevertheless.
We forget sometimes that Tanya Tucker is a legend because she was only 13 years old when she scored a massive hit with “Delta Dawn” followed by so many number one country music standards it’ll make your head spin. “Delta Dawn” came out in 1972. For perspective, the great Dolly Parton scored her first hit only 5 years earlier in 1967 with “Dumb Blonde”. Dolly wouldn’t land a number one hit until “Joshua” in 1971.?
This is to say that Tanya is such an omnipresent voice in country music that even at 13 she could be heard over the great American airwaves as commonly as Dolly Parton and her contemporaries. She’s as much a part of our musical landscape as any other country matriarch you can think of.?
So where did she go? Where has she been for 17 years?
I’m working up the courage to ask her as she twists her cigarette butt out into the sole of her cowboy boot. She looks at me with clear eyes and says something about the last time she saw her father, she eludes to her darker days and a sadness comes over her face that I’ve only seen a couple of times. There is a past struggle with drugs that we all know exists, but somehow only makes her seem deeper. Before either of us can burst into tears, I tell her that I like her hair pink. “Aw you know baby,” she says in that unmistakable voice “if I ain’t strutting my stuff I ain’t Tanya mother Tucker... but don’t worry, I don’t wear my mini-skirts anymore since my balls started showing”.?
I would argue she’s had even more of a potent influence on women in country music than we originally believed. Tanya is TOUGH. Tanya sings tough, she talks tough; she’s been through hard living and she fucking rodeos. There would be no Miranda, no?Brandi, no Gretchen, no Maren without Tanya Tucker, that’s where we found our piss and vinegar... even balls, I guess.
But if you tell her that she won’t believe you. Even if you stand in front of her and sing “San Antonio Stroll”, “What’s Your Mama’s Name”, “Delta Dawn”, “Lay With Me In A Field Of Stone”, “Last Teardrop”, “Strong Enough To Bend”, “Love Me Like You Used To”, or even “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane”.... and the rest! Believe me I did it.
She’ll give all the credit to a long list of special men in her life and career that she believes to be the source of her “luck”, she’s not as comfortable with women. She’s an accidental feminist, even unwilling at times. She’s chaos and human. She’s learning and she still wants to.?Shooter Jennings and I believe in Tanya Tucker more than she believes in herself. This is true. But she is worth believing in! She’s not Santa Clause, she’s REAL and she’s very fucking good.?
“While I’m Livin’” is an album of mostly original music written by myself, the twins and Tanya Tucker about her real life and the places she’s seen.?This album is a musical biography of sorts narrated by the greatest country and western singer this side of Johnny Cash. When the kids heard Cash stripped down on “American Recordings” they knew where their outlaw country music came from. When they hear Tanya stripped down on “While I’m Livin’”, they’ll know it again.?
Why am I so invested in Tanya??Joni Mitchell said, “I’m frightened by the devil, but I’m drawn to those ones who ain’t afraid”. I’m drawn to Tanya Tucker because she’s been to hell and to heaven, not to mention every square inch of Texas. She’s lived, she’s livin’,?she’s got something to say and I’m listening.
Tanya hates the word “comeback”, she says she prefers “re-launch” Ha. But it’s not often that we are given the opportunity to tell a legend that we have always loved and appreciated them while they’re still with us.
Let’s call it a comeback. Let’s give her one while she’s livin’.
- Brandi Carlile
Aug 23rd, 2019
1. Mustang Ridge (3:37)
2. The Wheels Of Laredo (3:49)
3. I Don't Owe You Anything (2:34)
4. They Day My Heart Goes Still (3:19)
5. High Ridin' Heroes (3:27)
6. The House That Built Me (4:12)
7. Hard Luck (4:12)
8. Rich (2:33)
9. The Bridges (3:35)
10. Bring My Flowers Now (4:20)