Continuing with our Tanya Tucker coverage, this review was written by a guest contributor, Michael, who is also a frequent commenter here at My Kind of Country.
When I was a boy, my mom and I scored front row seats to a Tanya Tucker concert but she cancelled the show. My mother never forgave her, and I won’t tell you the name she still uses to refer to Tucker today, but I couldn’t stay mad at Tanya for long after purchasing this CD. In fact, along with Martina McBride’s The Way That I Am, Soon was one of the very first CDs I ever bought. A twelve-year-old’s well spent allowance money at Target became an investment that continues to pay off today
This was six years before Faith Hill was rolling around in the sheets for the music video to “Breathe” and long before Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles took on the role of a mistress that stands up for herself, there was “Soon”. In the summer of 1993 Tanya Tucker released the scandalous, racy video for the first single and title track of her upcoming album Soon. The steamy clip featured Tucker and her lover thrashing around in bed and was banned from daytime airings on CMT and TNN. In fact, a search for the video on YouTube today requires age verification to watch it and be warned, it may still make you blush. Using the third person point-of-view, Tucker tells the story of a woman who has had a summer tryst with a married man. He has promised her that he will leave his wife soon but by Christmas he has still not followed through on his word and she spends the holiday alone. She finds no answer when she calls him and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that, as a teenager, the chorus after this verse was featured on my outgoing answering machine message for awhile.
Soon, I can’t talk to you right now
Soon, you’ll hear a beep and you know how to play this game
Leave your number and your name
And I promise I’ll call back … soon
By the final verse our protagonist has a renewed sense of strength and independence and has turned the tables on the man. Her New Year’s resolution is to make herself unavailable to him when he calls or comes by. Tucker’s voice conveys the heartache of what should be an unlikable character’s story and makes her sympathetic. “Soon” peaked at number two on the Billboard charts and none of Tucker’s singles in the in the 16 years since its release has reached a higher summit.
The second single released from the album was “We Don’t Have To Do This”. It just missed the top 10, stalling at number 11. The lush ballad is about a breakup that could have never been predicted at the beginning of the relationship. However, Tucker wonders if saying goodbye is even necessary at all. She gives one last emotional plea to save the relationship from their pride. Should all of the time, energy and effort they have put into it be in vain? Breakups are almost always messy. When is something worth fighting for and when is it time to let it go? Even when ending it is the right thing to do, it can still hurt. There may be relief but it could be clouded with a sense of failure. When it’s over, all we can do is hang onto our memories of the good times. Tucker sings with such passion that it makes me root for her and in the end, I hope they didn’t say goodbye.
Third single “Hangin’ In” could have also been known as “We Don’t Have To Do This, Part II” if the couple in the previous single did decide to say goodbye after all. However, it’s actually a swinging number that was accompanied by a flirty beach video. The basic premise is that, although she’s been lonely since the breakup, she’s still hanging in there. She’s not really doing all that well and she spends a lot of time thinking about her ex, but there’s still hope. It has a catchy melody and a casual, laid back feel to it. As a fun, fast paced song, it keeps the album rolling along. To date, it is Tucker’s last Top 5 single.
The final single release from Soon was “You Just Watch Me” which peaked at #20. This number is a sexy, playful tale of seduction. Tucker wraps her smoky voice around the lyrics as she croons “When you see me coming, ain’t no use running”, almost taunting the listener. It is a confident promise, almost a threat, that one day she will be the object of her desire’s very own obsession. And I believe her. Resistance is futile, escape impossible, and she will not be denied. Whatever T. wants, she gets. Female empowerment at its finest.
And then there is the so-called “filler” – some fits this description and some doesn’t. Track two is titled “Come On Honey” and was written by the late Paul Davis who collaborated with Tucker and Paul Overstreet on the 1988 #1 single “I Won’t Take Less Than Your Love”. Basically, it is about a woman trying to win over a man who’s been burned in the past, before he met her. However, Tucker tells him that this shouldn’t matter and he needs to open his heart. It’s a passable, if unremarkable, waltz.
“I Love You Anyway” is a bland song about opposites attracting. It’s a generic, paint by numbers ditty missing only MC Skat Kat. The best that can be said for this shallow, frivolous tune is that it can be fun if you don’t think about it too much and it’s over pretty quickly if you don’t like it.
Up next is “Let the Good Times Roll”, a rocking number, right? No. Actually, if you remember the music video for Reba’s “What Am I Gonna Do About You”, you already know the concept of this haunting ballad. The narrator of this song has a nightly ritual. She turns off the lights, watches a video of happy times with her former partner (it’s never clear whether her loved one left by choice or by death) and holds his pillow tightly against her. A cheesy concept? Maybe. But the details of the video (pushing our heroine on an old tire swing) and the imagery (the glow of the television set) sell it. Wouldn’t it be nice if life was always like the moments we capture on film? But for Tucker, it’s a sad reality that she is living for someone who is no longer here. Her aching voice conveys the pain of loving someone that is gone but still there and far away but always near as she sees his face and hears his voice all the time. A sad, pitiable existence.
With lyrics about a “june bug buzzin’ on the front porch light”, “Sneaky Moon” is a country love song if there ever was one. This sassy toe tapper is about meeting someone that’s bad for you in the night time. She opens her door and lets him in “to be in those arms” because hey, it does get lonely. Being good can get boring and as Tucker purrs a series of “oooohhhs”, I can’t help but want to get into a little mischief myself. Despite what my grandma says, we all know the best stuff happens after dark anyway, right?
Wounding up the album, is set of stunning ballads. First, “Silence Is King.” Imagine a marriage filled with tension, bitterness and misery. There is no joy or laughter and chasing dreams is no longer a reality. It is a land ruled by silence. Unfortunately, for too many this is a reality. The scorching line “Angry words are better than none” sums it up best. Any emotion or reaction that shows your partner still cares would be better than the silent treatment. Tucker’s smoldering voice is strong and in fine form on this dark narrative.
The album closes with “A Blue Guitar”, a song about what to do when you can’t sleep. The cure for frustrated insomnia sufferers is to simply drive to the edge of town where it’s cold and dark and find a run down bar with a flickering neon sign in the shape of a broken heart. The music of the blue guitar will give you chills. You see, this is insomnia caused by heartache and lonely people come to a bar like this when they simply can’t take it anymore to find some company for their misery. Who knows, maybe even a new relationship too? The song may not have a lot of depth but Tucker’s low growls and husky voice make this bluesy number about a smoky honky-tonk with sawdust covered floors shine.
Soon is the last of Tanya’s CDs to be certified gold by the RIAA and it peaked at number 18 on the album charts. It’s hard to imagine today, but in the boom years of the early 90s an album that barely cracked the Top 20 could still be certified gold. Sign of the times, I guess. Helmed by Jerry Crutchfield and released on Liberty Records (which is what Capitol was known as for a brief time in the early 90s – I can’t remember the story behind the name change), it kicked off the third act of her tenure at Capitol. In a career known for many comebacks, here’s hoping Tanya returns with another fine album like this very soon. Despite a couple of formulaic and uninspired numbers, overall, it is a tight, cohesive set of songs and the material suits her voice quite well.