I wish more people knew about Tanya Tucker.
Unless you are a country music fan and old enough to remember her, the name probably doesn’t ring much of a bell.
Tanya was essentially a child prodigy, having had a string of hits right as her teen years began. Give a listen to “Delta Dawn” and you will be blown away by the emotion and vocal maturity coming out of a thirteen year old girl.
As the years went on, Tucker became a country music mainstay. In the 70’s, along with Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynne, Tanya was the female answer to the outlaw country movement made huge by legends such as Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. She was a hard living, binge drinking icon who’s once pristine voice carried the beautiful grit of a two-pack-a-day habit and one-too-many bourbons on the rocks.
But as tastes changed and a more highly polished and produced sound took over Nashville, there was little room for the hardened songs of heartbreak and tough times that were Tucker’s signature. It had been decades since I’d seen any type of new release or upcoming tour from “Little Miss Cheatin’ Heart” as she was once known.
So I was really stoked to hear recently that Tucker was releasing a new album. I was double stoked to hear that the song writing and production of the album were being handled by Brandi Carlilse and Shooter Jennings (the son of the aforementioned Waylon). And I was triple stoked to hear the album was getting rave reviews.
But this post isn’t about how great of an album Tanya (now 60 years old) and company were able to manage (if you are into that classic country sound I can’t recommend it enough). Nope, what I want to talk about is something that TT shared on a recent podcast while being interviewed by music production legend Rick Rubin.
Rick was going way back, talking about how Tanya got her start as a teenager and it became clear that she was very, very close to her parents. In fact, her father was her manager and her parents would drive and chaperone her to gigs when she was too young to even legally be inside the beer bottle and chicken-wire halls she played across Texas.
There was something about her honest and folksy demeanor that really drew me into Tanya. It was like she had this 50 year career and was making a huge comeback but none of this was a big deal to her. Like she couldn’t understand what all the fuss was all about.
So by the time she reached the part of the story in which her parents passed away I felt like we were already lifelong friends. Which may explain why the way she described how she felt during that time hit me like a ton of bricks.
“When my parents died, I felt like there was more love behind me in my life than there was left in front of me,” she said.
That is some powerful shit right there.
Honestly, as captivated I was by her stories of the road and career while listening to her rasp-soaked voice, I’d forgotten most of it just a few days later. But not that line. That line has stuck with me for months now.
It took me a while to figure out why. Sure, it’s emotional and heart-wrenching and sentimental and all the shit that I am a complete sucker for but I felt there was a deeper message to it. And after some soul-searching here’s what I’ve come up with.
There are very few people in this world who will truly support you. Who will listen and put your goals and dreams and desires at the forefront of their minds and their words when you come to them for advice and empathy and solace. It is so easy to want to be the type of person who is always there for their loved ones and so hard to offer support without pushing our own beliefs and agenda on them.
I think that is what Tanya had found with her parents. People who supported her desires, who drove her to dive bars halfway across the state so she could sing a song or two because that was her dream.
At the risk of sounding trite by comparing being a coach at a gym to being someone’s parent, this is something I want to be able to deliver to our clients . To listen to their goals and dreams and desires and support them in the best way possible without just laying my agenda on top of them.
Honestly, if I’m taking a cold, hard look at myself, it’s a bit of a departure. But one that I think is worthwhile. Because as Tanya Tucker found with her parents, those are the people that you will love and appreciate and miss when they are gone.