A new dawn for Tanya Tucker

Tanya Tucker
You likely know Tanya Tucker hits: since the ripe old age of 13 she's had nearly two dozen Top 40 albums.

She became country music's wild child, with a personal life that often grabbed more attention than her music. But her latest album has made her the critic's darling, and it's her music that's making headlines again.

Schieffer said, "I got my marching orders here. I'm told, 'Do not ask her how she likes this 'comeback,' 'cause you say it's not a comeback. So, what is it?"

"Well, of course. You make plans, and God, He chuckles, you know, when you start makin' plans!"

God only knows how oil field roughneck Jesse "Beau" Tucker recognized the potential in his youngest daughter, Tanya Denise, born 1958 in Seminole, Texas.  But by age nine, she knew what she wanted. And her father was with her all the way.

"'Cause my dad always said, 'You're a nine-year-old girl. So that means you're gonna have to put twice as much feelin' in that song you're singin' than whoever recorded it … Because they're not gonna believe a nine-year-old kid singing, 'You ain't woman enough to take my man.'"

A new dawn for Tanya Tucker
In 1970, Tucker landed an audience with legendary Nashville producer Billy Sherrill, still hot after his success with Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man." Sherrill wanted Tanya to record an age-appropriate song called "The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA."

She was set on another: "It started out, 'She's 41 and her daddy still called her baby.' And I said, 'Well, now that is my song.'"

"Delta Dawn" is sung from the point of view of a middle-aged faded beauty. Producer Billy Sherrill heard Bette Midler, of all people, sing it on "The Tonight Show." Yet somehow, he saw fit to offer it to Tucker.

Delta Dawn, what's that flower you have on?

The lyrics seemed so improbable coming from a 13-year-old that the record label tried to keep Tanya's age a secret. That didn't last long, and as the hits rolled in, so did the money.  The little girl with the big girl's voice took on some grown-up habits – drinking, drugs and romance.

"You know, it could have," Tucker replied. ". But in a way, I don't think you could be successful unless you've had a lotta failures, and I've had some."

The same can be said for her love life. Though she was never married, she has raised her three children as a single mother, and made no apologies for it. Throughout the 1980s she carried on a public affair with Glen Campbell, who was more than two decades her senior.

That's just the sort of feeling you hear in her songs – the emotion that has always cut through the tabloid headlines. Maybe that's why Tucker's fans use one particular word to describe her.

And the more real she gets, the more they love her.

As it turns out, two of Tanya Tucker's biggest fans would help compose this latest chapter in her life story. In 2018, musician and producer Shooter Jennings, the son of country giant Waylon Jennings, recruited superstar singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile to write new material for Tucker.  But it was a song that Tucker had been trying to put on paper for decades that would, with Carlile's help, bring the entire project into focus.

Bring my flowers now, while I'm livin'

I won't need your love when I'm gone

Don't spend time, tears, or money on my old breathless body

Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile performs "Bring My Flowers Now":

"Bring My Flowers Now" is the sound of a more reflective Tanya Tucker. At age 61, in Franklin, Tennessee, she surrounds herself with the people (and the animals) she loves.

And of course his daddy, who's already in a little small box, he'll go in there with me. We'll have to have an extra big box though, because I have, well, I'll have five dogs and two horses. We're gonna be together forever!"
Tanya Tucker has packed a lot of living in her time on Earth. Since she was a little girl, her voice has been her ticket. And her voice has never had more to offer than it does today.

You build your platform. You know, you build it 'til you can't build it any higher, you can't get no higher. And that's when you can change the world, 'cause then people will listen to you. I wanna change a lotta things."

You can stream Tanya Tucker's "While I'm Livin'" by clicking on the embed below (Free Spotify registration required to hear the tracks in full):