Rainy walks, a midnight talk, dance me on your feet
Hold me close, don’t let go, all I’ll ever need
Is a single rose, a kiss hello, that smile upon your face
The tender way, you say my name takes my breath away
The first single released from Tanya Tucker’s 1997 album, Complicated, was the romantic ‘Little Things’ which finds the singer appreciating all the small things her man does for her like walking with her in the rain and making her laugh. It climbed to the #9 position on the country charts and is Tucker’s last appearance in the top 10 to date. A second single and my favorite from the album was ‘Ridin’ Out the Heartache’. The tune is another of the countless ‘leaving in a car’ songs that dotted the country charts a decade ago. This catchy tune about driving south in a ’66 Chevrolet stalled at #45 and no subsequent singles were released. Despite being one the top 10-played artists on country radio in 1996, the next would prove to be Tanya’s last successful year with radio.
It’s worth mentioning that Tanya sued Capitol Records in 1998 for $300,000. The suit – which reportedly began when Capitol refused to finance a music video for the second single – centered on the label’s lack of promotion for the album and accused the label of focusing all its efforts on another artist. The suit never named the other artist, but Garth Brooks had just the year before orchestrated a takeover at the label, ousting long-time chief Scott Hendricks for Pat Quigley, said to be hand-picked by Brooks. Tucker also asked to be let out of her contract with Capitol.
In Tanya’s defense, she did turn in a quality album to the label, plenty worth promoting. Just after the first two tracks, which are the two singles, comes the melancholy ‘It Hurts Like Love’. This is followed by the swinging ‘I Don’t Believe That’s How You Feel’, written by Harlan Howard and Kostas, it’s a forgive-me number done up in Cajun style. ‘By The Way’ makes use of the double-entendre. The verses begin each statement with ‘by the way’ using the phrase as a opening to each observation. Then in the chorus, it’s used to tell how the singer assures her man she knows he loves her ‘by the way you smile’.
‘Love Thing’ begins with a spoken word intro and then launches into a groovy guitar lick that drives the entire song. It was co-written by Tanya’s former duet partner, Delbert McClinton along with Bill LaBounty and its rocking feel coupled with Tanya’s growling vocals turn this from just an okay song to one of the most enjoyable on the album. ‘Wishin’ It All Away’ is very similar thematically to Reba’s ‘Little Rock’ but it takes on a sad undercurrent to the ‘money can’t buy love’ theme. The protagonist in this song is not content with just ‘everything that a girl could want’. She needs love.
The title track is another rocking number that finds Tanya in full swing. When this album was released, I remember seeing an interview with Tanya where she said the title track summed up her love life in one word: complicated. You and me both, Tanya. Craig Wiseman wrote the smart ‘All I Have To Offer You Is Love’ and Tanya turns in as fine a performance as I’ve heard of the song here. In 1995, Dusty Springfield had included it on her A Very Fine Love album, also referred to as Dusty In Nashville.
‘What Your Love Does For Me’ opens with a searing fiddle and kicking drum beat. Tanya spits the lyrics of this tune in rapid succession and makes it another enjoyable country rocker. ‘You Don’t Do It’ tells of the living-for-the-day things we all dream of doing, but let our better judgment take over. This is probably for the best, but as the hook to this album closer suggests, ‘you don’t do it baby, you just think about it’, maybe we could all use a little more adventure in our lives. Tanya Tucker could certainly be an example of someone who chose to walk on the wild side and come back to tell about it.
My favorite thing about this album is how it reflects Tanya Tucker’s personality so well. Long-time Tanya Tucker producer Jerry Crutchfield was replaced with Gregg Brown, probably another effect from the Capitol takeover. With a new producer and still riding her wave of 1990s success, Tanya Tucker delivered a fun, breezy, and at times brilliant album to cap off her tunure with Capitol Records. And this is a fitting end to one of the most successful chapters in Tucker’s storied career.