Tanya Tucker talks about her latest album While I’m Livin’.
Cowboys & Indians: Congratulations on the release of While I’m Livin’, your first album of new material in 17 years. Would you describe this as a comeback or a career reboot?
Tanya Tucker: I think of this as a relaunch of my career. And I don’t know really how it happened. I was talking with Brandi Carlile the other day, and we were discussing that. And I said, “Man, it’s just like, the only way I can explain it is God pushed you off a cloud somewhere and you fell into my lap.” I mean, here’s this girl whose career is blowing up. Like, she won three Grammys this year. And she’s over here messing with me.
C&I: Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings co-produced your new album. But that isn’t where Carlile’s contribution ended, right?
Tanya: [Laughs.] No, I’m not talking about just making the record. It didn’t stop there. It’s continued, with videos and doing shows. She’s got her fingers in all the pies. And thank God for that. It’s not like she’s forcing herself on me. I say it with gratitude that she is involved and has such a different vision than the normal producer might. I mean, she has a different look at it and at my whole career. Her take is so different, but she’s just so right on, and she’s involved with who takes pictures at photo shoots, and radio interviews. I don’t know how she does it with her career going as great as it is. But I know that I’m busier than ever right now. I mean, it’s just like I went from a standstill to a full-out run, and it amazes me that this all happened.
C&I: How did you get started with While I’m Livin’ ?
Tanya: I think it started with Shooter Jennings. I call him Little Waylon, because his dad and I were close toward the latter part of his life. And it’s just really come full circle that I would be working with him. He’s the one that got all this started, and it just catapulted from there. I was up and out of the studio, and the record came out before I knew what hit me, really.
C&I: What do you think you enjoyed most about recording While I’m Livin’ ?
Tanya: Well, it was a real special time being at the studio. And no fixes, no overdubs. That’s right. [Laughs.] Hey, hey, hey! No overdubs! I didn’t get to fix nothing, you understand? So what you’re hearing is the raw deal. It’s like I’d walked in and sung it — and now you’re listening to it.
C&I: You, Brandi, and Shooter look like you had a great time together in the video for one of the album’s first singles, “Hard Luck.” But just below the surface, there’s something serious about the song — an acknowledgment that hard living can cause hard luck. There’s even the line: “Don’t do what Hank Williams done.” All things considered, do you think of yourself as a survivor?
Tanya: I guess if you last in this business two years, you’re a survivor. I don’t know. I mean, everybody keeps mentioning that when they talk about me, and I guess maybe it’s so. I mean, I’ve been doing it for almost 50 years, and it’s amazing how the time has flown. But I think — oh, I know I would go back and do it all again, and still not know any better.
C&I: For years, there’s been a very popular meme on the internet that features a photo of Leonardo DiCaprio offering a toast with champagne, and the words: “Sometimes I look back on my life, and I’m seriously impressed that I’m still alive!” Do you ever feel that way?
Tanya: [Laughs.] No, I’m not amazed that I’m still alive. I mean, I’m amazed sometimes that some other people aren’t, you know? But I have no regrets. I’m just glad to have gone through it. I mean, if there’s going to be any regrets, it probably would be trusting some people that I’ve had dealings with. But other than that, my experiences and life and stepping out on the edge of the limb — I don’t regret any of that.
HORSE SENSE: Tanya Tucker is proud to be actively involved with the Redemption Road Project, a nonprofit equine rescue organization headquartered in Jackson, Tennessee, that accepts surrendered animals and works with local authorities on animal cruelty cases and seizures.
CHEERS: Tanya is also an enthusiastic spokesperson for Cosa Salvaje — English translation: Wild Thing — the tequila that is her drink of choice when she wants to party hearty. “I used to be a wild thing,” she says. “Now I just drink a wild thing!”
Illustration: Jonathan Fehr
From the October 2019 issue.