My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Tag Archives: Paul Davis

Week ending 3/3/18: #1 singles this week in country music history

1958 (Sales):  Ballad of a Teenage Queen — Johnny Cash (Sun)

1958 (Disk Jockeys): Ballad of a Teenage Queen — Johnny Cash (Sun)

1968: Skip A Rope — Henson Cargill (Monument)

1978: Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys — Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson (United Artists)

1988: I Won’t Take Less Than Your Love — Tanya Tucker with Paul Davis and Paul Overstreet (Capitol)

1998: What If I Said — Anita Cochran with Steve Wariner (Warner Bros. Nashville)

2008: Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy) — Rodney Atkins (Curb)

2018: Meant To Be — Bebe Rexha featuring Florida Georgia Line (Big Machine)

2018 (Airplay): Five More Minutes — Scotty McCreery (Triple Tigers)

 

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Classic Rewind: Tanya Tucker, Paul Davis and Paul Overstreet – ‘I Won’t Take Less Than Your Love’

Week ending 11/26/16: #1 singles this week in country music history

maxresdefault-41956 (Sales):Singing the Blues — Marty Robbins (Columbia)

1956 (Jukebox): Singing the Blues — Marty Robbins (Columbia)

1956 (Disc Jockeys): Singing the Blues — Marty Robbins (Columbia)

1966: Somebody Like Me — Eddy Arnold (RCA)

1976: Somebody Somewhere (Don’t Know What He’s Missin’ Tonight) — Loretta Lynn (MCA)

1986: You’re Still New to Me — Marie Osmond with Paul Davis (Capitol/Curb)

1996: Strawberry Wine — Deana Carter (Capitol)

2006: Before He Cheats — Carrie Underwood (Arista)

2016: Blue Ain’t Your Color — Keith Urban (Capitol)

2016 (Airplay): Middle of a Memory — Cole Swindell (Warner Bros.)

Classic Rewind: Paul Davis and Marie Osmond – ‘You’re Still New To Me’

Favorite Songs of the 1980s: Part 5

The 1980s got off to a poor start with the early 1980s producing some of the lamest country music ever recorded, as the Urban Cowboy movie wrecked havoc on the genre. Fortunately, there was still good country music being released. The first flowering of the late 1980s “New Traditionalist” movement arrived in 1981 with the first hits of Ricky Skaggs and George Strait, but they remained outliers until 1986 as far as good new artists were concerned. The latter part of the decade, however, produced some truly excellent country music with the 1986 arrival of Randy Travis and company.

Here are some more songs that I liked and remember. See if you recall any of these records.

the okanes“When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back” – Sam Neely
This 1983 song reached #77 for a talented performer who spent many years playing the clubs and honky-tonks of Corpus Christi. The song, the reflection of a condemned inmate’s life, looks back at all the bridges he burned beyond repair. The song also was recorded by Bill Anderson and Confederate Railroad.

Dream Lover” – Rick Nelson
Epic reissued Rick’s 1979 cover of a Bobby Darin classic after Rick’s death in a New Years Eve 1985 air crash. It only reached #88 but it gives me a chance to mention one of the fine rock ‘n roll / country singers one last time.

Save Me” – Louise Mandrell
Louise never quite emerged from her big sister’s shadow but this #6 single from 1983 shows that a lack of talent wasn’t the problem.

Wabash Cannonball” – Willie Nelson with Hank (Leon Russell) Wilson
This song is at least as famous as any other song I’ve mentioned in any of my articles. Although the song is often attributed to A.P. Carter, it really is much older than that. Willie and Hank took this to #91 in 1984.

American Trilogy”– Mickey Newberry
Mickey issued a new version of his classic 1971 pop hit in 1988. While it only reached #93, it was good to hear it again on the radio. Glory, Glory Hallelujah forever.

The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known)“– Judy Kay ‘Juice’ Newton
This #1 hit from 1982 was Juice’s biggest hit. As great as this recording is, the song sounds even better when she performs it acoustically.

Dance Little Jean” – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Perhaps my favorite recording by NGDB, it only reached #9 in 1983 but I still hear the song performed today by various and sundry acts, not all of whom are country. The song was the group’s first top ten country hit there would be sixteen in all), although they had pop chart hits dating back to the 1960s.

“Let’s Go All The Way ” – Norma Jean and Claude Gray
A pair of veteran performers teamed up to release this 1982 hit which charted at #68. The song was Norma Jean’s first chart hit back in 1964. This was her last chart hit; in fact, she hadn’t charted since 1971 when this record was released on the Granny White label.

Elvira” – The Oak Ridge Boys
Although not their biggest chart hit, this cover of a Dallas Frazier-penned song from the 1960s , was easily their biggest selling song, reaching #1 in 1981 while hitting #5 on Billboard’s pop charts. Has anyone really forgotten the chorus?

So I’m singin’, Elvira, Elvira
My heart’s on fire, Elvira
Giddy up, oom poppa, omm poppa, mow mow
Giddy up, oom poppa, omm poppa, mow mow, heigh-ho Silver, away!

I didn’t think so …

Oh Darlin’” – The O’Kanes (Kieran Kane and Jamie O’Hara)
This coupling of a couple of singer-songwriters who had not had solo success, resulted in a half dozen top ten records that had a fairly acoustic sound and feel that sounded like nothing else currently being played on the radio. This song reached #10 in 1986. Their next single “Can’t Stop My Heart From Loving You” would reach #1.

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Classic Rewind: Dan Seals featuring Paul Davis – ‘Bop’

Album Review: Dan Seals – ‘Rage On’

1988 saw Dan make a sideways move from EMI to its Capitol imprint. Rage On has tasteful Kyle Lehning production and excellent material which combines great melodies with interesting lyrics. Dan was at his commercial and artistic peak, and it continued his hot streak with country radio.

Lead single ‘Addicted’ was Dan’s eighth straight #1 hit. It was written by contemporary folk artist Cheryl Wheeler, but it fits Dan like a glove with its pretty melody and sensitive, insightful lyric. His empathetic vocal is perfect for this bleak third person portrait of a woman who can see her lover is drawing away from her, and her own heart breaking slowly:

She says she feels like she’s addicted to a real bad thing
Always sitting waiting wondering if the phone will ring
She knows she bounces like a yoyo when he pulls her string
It hurts to feel like such a fool
She wants to tell him not to call or come around again
He doesn’t need her at all now the way that she needs him
She’s on the edge about to fall from leaning out and in
And she don’t know which way to move, oh no

She wants to be fair, she couldn’t say
He was ever unkind
But if she could bear to walk away
She thinks he wouldn’t mind

Another fine song, ‘Big Wheels In The Moonlight’ followed it to the top of the charts, and has a much cheerier atmosphere. Set to a lively tune with occasional hand claps, it tells the story of a restless young boy bored with his hometown (“so small, look both ways you could see it all”) and dreaming of a truck driving life. There is an optimistic feel as Dan delivers the song with commitment, and Baillie & the Boys provide backing vocals. It was one of three songs on the album written by the regular partnership of Dan with Bob McDill.

Another McDill collaboration, the title track, ‘They Rage On’, broke Dan’s streak of #1 hits, peaking at #5. With a delicate vocal, Dan sympathetically portrays two sets of desperate lovers – a pair of restless teenagers (“like birds in a cage”) and an older couple having an illicit affair (“she’s lost her youth and he’s lost his dreams”) as they cling on to the one thing that makes them feel alive. The video interpreted the song by showing an interracial couple facing hostility, and perhaps it was this relatively controversial topic (not in the original song) that kept it off the top spot.

The final McDill co-write is one of relatively few country songs to have a New York setting. ‘Long Long Island Nights’ is the portrait a successful model who is just a small town girl at heart, in need of love.

Dan wrote two socially conscious songs alone. In ‘Factory Town’, he tackles a town dependent on one employer which is about to shut, playing the part of one factory worker, bewildered by the situation. ‘Those’ is an idealistic plea to help out one’s neighbours, in both material and emotional ways:

Then the world would be a better place for living
More forgiving every day
If those that have learned how to hold their own
Could help those who are slipping away

Those who have loved and lost everything
Could help those who have never loved at all
Those that are free now, no longer feel the pain,
Could help those who are still behind the wall

John Scott Sherrill’s superb ‘Five Generations of Rock County Wilsons’ is my equal favorite track with ‘Addicted’. The melancholy testament of a man whose childhood home is about to be lost to strip mining, Dan’s version is deeply affecting, channelling sadness rather than the outrage of John Anderson’s more forceful later cut, and he gives it a palpable sense of defeat which interprets the song effectively.

And I said “mMama forgive me but I’m almost glad
That you’re not here today
After five generations of Rock County Wilsons
To see the last 50 acres in the hands of somebody
Who’d actually blow it away”

The addition of a recorder in the instrumental section gives it a wistful old-fashioned air which works rather well.

‘Twenty Four Hour Love’ is a quietly catchy number Dan wrote with Mac MacAnally; a gentle love song from a working man who is not normally good at expressing his emotions. ‘Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice’ was written by K. T. Oslin, and is a solid song with a disillusioned Dan quietly determined to move on. A little more on the pop-country side, ‘A Heartache Just Around The Bend’ was written by Paul Davis and Jennifer Kimball, and while pleasant, is the closest the record comes to filler.

Kimball wrote the downbeat ballad ‘Maybe I’m Missing You Now’ with Blackie Farrell, which has more of an impact. Here Dan ruefully regrets separating from his wife:

We made a promise for better or worse
Well, this is the worse that I’ve been
I’ve run out of reasons to hide anyhow
Maybe I’m missing you now

This is my personal favorite of Dan Seals’ albums, and is well worth adding to your collection. It’s easy to find used, or you could wait until the 2on1 with Dan’s country debut Rebel Heart appears in October.

Grade: A

Classic Rewind: Dan Seals and Marie Osmond – ‘Meet Me In Montana’

Album Review – Dan Seals – ‘Won’t Be Blue Anymore’

For 1985’s Won’t Be Blue Anymore, Dan Seals moved from Liberty to Capitol where he would record his next four albums. He retained producer Kyle Lehning, but brought in Paul Worley to assist this time around.  The results were spectacular, as Won’t Be Blue Anymore became Seals’ first #1 album, as well as his initial release to turn out three consecutive #1 singles, the beginning in a string of nine straight chart toppers.

Lead single “Meet Me In Montana” found Seals teaming up with Marie Osmond, who was enjoying a string of moderate success herself on Capitol/Curb at the time. Written by Paul Davis following a visit to Kalispell, Montana, his idea of the perfect place for a romantic rendezvous, the song was Seals’ first chart topper and Osmond’s second, after “Paper Roses” in 1973. It also won the pair CMA Duo of the Year honors in 1986. I love the simple elegance of the song, and Osmond’s gorgeous vocal. They play their individual parts perfectly.

Even more successful was the project’s sophomore single, Paul Davis and Jennifer Kimball’s “Bop,” a horn drenched number that also peaked at #42 on the U.S. Hot 100 and #10 on the Adult Contemporary charts. A testament to the song’s popularity, it won CMA Single of the Year honors despite some very formidable competition.  I’ve always enjoyed “Bop,” probably the campiest record not recorded by Dolly Parton at the time. The story of wanting to go dancing with your lady is timeless, as is Seals’ vocal, and they help offset the cheesy horns just enough to keep the track from feeling grating.

“Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold),” the third single, is by far the strongest of the three and perfectly showcases Seals in his signature acoustic style. Co-written by Seals and Bob McDill, “Glitters” wins because of its touching story, about the relationship between a father and daughter who are dealing with her absentee mother:

Little Casey she’s still growing and she’s started asking questions
And there’s certain things a man just doesn’t know
Her birthday came and you never even called
I guess we never cross your mind at all

Written by Seals, “Headin’ West” is an excellent dobro-accentuated bluegrass thumper that wouldn’t be out-of-place on Zac Brown Band’s Uncaged. It’s rare to hear such an upbeat track from Seals, and he pulls this style off with ease.  The title track, another Seals original, finds him channeling of the era Ricky Skaggs, with spectacular results. I love the inviting nature of the naked dobro opening, the way it exquisitely frames his straightforward vocal.  I also love John D. Loudermilk’s “Tobacco Road”, if only for the sinister sounding opening. The intriguing mystery of the shadowy opening music bed lends itself perfectly to the overall track and invites the listener in to hear the whole song.

Won’t Be Blue Anymore missteps in the middle, turning in mediocre variations on well-worn themes. “Your Love,” composed by Beckie Foster and Tommy Rocco, is a typical your-love-saved-me type ballad, while Wendy Waldman and Donny Lowery’s “You Plant Your Fields” is a boring ode to farm life.  “Still A Little Bit of Love,” from the pens of Jim Scott and Walker Inglehart, is the most pop-leaning track in both production and vocal performance, and while good, its only noteworthy for extrapolating a slick performance from the dobro. “So Easy To Need” is much the same, another good track, but nothing truly outstanding.

“City Kind of Girl” closes the album on a strong note, and uses the same guitar lick Rosanne Cash would employ on “If You Change Your Mind” from Kings Record Shop two years later. Written by Robert Gundry, “City Kind of Girl” is another age-old theme, country boy dating city girl, but Seals infuses it with sincerity, and his twangy vocal helps set it apart from the rest in this sub-genre.

Overall, Won’t Be Blue Anymore is a wonderful collection of songs and the first true showcase of Seals’ artistic excellence. A testament to Seals’ vision as an artist, most of these songs still hold up well today and unlike some of his previous solo efforts, this remains essential listening. The physical album is out of print, but easily available digitally.

Grade: A 

Country Heritage: 25 from the ’80s

This article will focus on some artists who either had a very short period of great success or had an extended run of near-success. In other words, I cannot justify an entire article on any of them.

Deborah Allen was born in 1953 in Memphis, and probably has had greater success as a songwriter, having written hits for artists including Tanya Tucker, Sheena Easton and Janie Fricke. As a performer, RCA had the bright idea of dubbing her voice onto old Jim Reeves recordings to create duets. The three duets released as singles – “Don’t Let Me Cross Over,” “Oh, How I Miss You Tonight” and “Take Me In Your Arms And Hold Me” – all went Top 10 in 1979-80. As a solo artist, Allen charted 10 times with three Top 10 singles: “Baby I Lied” (1983–#4), “I’ve Been Wrong Before” (1984–#2) and “I Hurt For You” (1984–#10).

Baillie and The Boys were a late 80s act which charted 10 times between 1987 and 1991 before disappearing from the charts. Seven of their hit records went Top 10, with “(I Wish I Had A) Heart of Stone” (1989–#4) being the biggest. Kathie Baillie was the lead singer, and while initially a trio, the group became a duo in 1988 with few people able to tell the difference.

Debby Boone is one of two answers to a trivia question – name the two families that have had a #1 pop record in each of three consecutive generations. One answer is obvious – the Nelson family – big band leader Ozzie Nelson (“And Then Some”, 1935), Rick Nelson (“Poor Little Fool”, 1958 and “Traveling Man”, 1960) and Rick’s sons Gunnar and Matthew Nelson (recording, under the name Nelson, “Love and Affection”, 1990).
The Nelson family answer works top down and bottom up as the members of the chain are all blood relatives. In the case of Debby Boone’s family, it only works top down. Debby (“You Light Up My Life“, 1977), father Pat Boone (seven #1s from 1955-1961 including “Love Letters In The Sand“) and grandfather Red Foley – no blood relation to Pat Boone but a blood relation of Debby’s (“Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy”, 1950).

Debby Boone may be a direct direct descendant of the American pioneer Daniel Boone. She is distantly related to two stars of American television, Richard Boone (Have Gun, Will Travel, Hec Ramsey) and Randy Boone, (The Virginian and Cimarron Strip).

Enough with the trivia – Debby charted on the country charts thirteen times from 1977-1981 although most of those were pop records that happened to chart country. Starting in 1979 Debby started consciously recording for country markets. “My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own” reached #11 in early 1979. The next three records did relatively nothing but the first single issued in 1980 “Are You On The Road To Loving Me Again” finally made it to the top. She would chart four more singles before turning to gospel/Christian music.

Larry Boone is best known as a songwriter, having cuts by Kathy Mattea, Don Williams, Tracy Lawrence, Rick Trevino, George Strait, Shenandoah, Marie Osmond and Lonestar. As a singer, he wasn’t terribly distinctive – sort of a George Strait-lite.  Boone charted 14 singles from 1986-93, with only 1988’s “Don’t Give Candy To A Stranger” reaching the Top 10. The other Top 20 singles were “I Just Called To Say Goodbye Again” and a remake of “Wine Me Up” – both of which reached their peak chart positions in 1989.

Dean Dillon charted 20 times from 1979-93, with his biggest hit being “Nobody In His Right Mind (Would’ve Left Her)” which reached #25 in November, 1980. During 1982 and 83, RCA paired Dillon with fading star Gary Stewart, hoping for the kind of magic that was later achieved when Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn were paired together. No real hits came of this collaboration, but the recordings were quite interesting and are available on CD.

Fortunately for Dillon, he is a far better songwriter than singer. His hits as a writer include George Jones’ “Tennessee Whiskey,” and more than a dozen George Strait Top 10s. In fact, Strait has recorded over 50 of Dillon’s songs, ensuring that the wolf will never again knock at Dean Dillon’s door.

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Album Review: Tanya Tucker – ‘Soon’

tanyatuckersoon

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.

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Album Review: Tanya Tucker – ‘What Do I Do With Me’

TanyaTuckerWhatDoIDowithMeHad she chosen to retire from the music business around 1990, Tanya Tucker could have done so knowing that she’d secured her musical legacy. By then she had been a presence on the country charts for nearly two decades, had released 20 studio albums, and secured 30 top 10 hits, including ten #1’s. She was also the “last woman standing”, the only artist who had been having top 10 hits in the early 70s to still be regularly reaching the top of the charts. No one was surprised that her winning streak still continued, but few realized at the time that Tucker had not yet reached her commercial or artistic peak.

Released in July 1991, What Do I Do With Me is the jewel in Tucker’s musical crown. It follows the same formula as its predecessor, Tennessee Woman , combining radio-friendly, pop-infused uptempo songs with tender, heartfelt ballads. However, this time around the song selection was stronger and that is what makes What Do I Do With Me Tanya Tucker’s masterpiece.

For the lead single, Tucker again turned to her old friend Paul Davis, who wrote the sassy, harmonica-driven “Down To My Last Teardrop”, in which the long-suffering protagonist tells her unfaithful partner that he’s drained her of every last drop of emotion. Tucker took this tune all the the way to #2 in the early summer of 1991.

The next single was the title track. Beautifully written by Royce Porter, L. David Lewis, and David Chamberlain, it tells the story of a woman wondering aloud how she will occupy the free time she suddenly has in the aftermath of a break-up. This is the type of ballad at which Tucker excels. Every line is filled with emotion, yet her performance is restrained and never over-the-top. Like its predecessor, “(Without You) What Do I Do With Me”, just missed the top spot on Billboard’s country singles chart, peaking at #2. This is the kind of song that has been missing in action from country radio in recent years, having fallen from favor in lieu of happier, empowerment anthems.

“Some Kind Of Trouble”, a more blues-infused number, didn’t chart quite as high, peaking at #3. Written by Mike Reid, Brent Maher and Don Potter, this song is more beat-driven than the previous singles, but the lyrics are still quite strong. I suspect that it was probably written with The Judds in mind, given the Maher and Potter connection, and would have likely been recorded by that duo had they still been active.

The fourth and final single, “If Your Heart Ain’t Busy Tonight” is a more light-hearted number written by Tom Shapiro and Chris Waters, that peaked at #4.

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Album Review: Tanya Tucker – ‘Tennessee Woman’

TanyaTuckerTennesseeWomanReleased in March 1990, Tennessee Woman was another consistent album which sustained Tanya’s run at the top, marrying together commercial radio-friendly appeal with artistic merit. Jerry Crutchfield was at the helm once more for another good selection of sassy pop-country and sensitive ballads.

The energetic mid-tempo first single, ‘Walkin’ Shoes’, written by Emmylou Harris’s ex-husband Paul Kennerley, falls into the former category. It is more about vibe than lyrical depth, although there are a couple of good lines, as Tanya shows off her independent side, leaving the guy who doesn’t treat her right, wearing her punning “it’s-all-overcoat” as well as the titular “walking shoes”. It was perfect for radio, and yet another top 5 hit for Tanya (#3 on Billboard).

The next single, ‘Don’t Go Out’, teamed Tanya up with the raspy-voiced, blues-influenced T Graham Brown, who combines very well with Tanya. The song was written by Radney Foster and Bill Lloyd, who had recorded the song themselves (as ‘Don’t Go Out With Him’). Reworking the song as a duet gives it a new dimension, as both Tanya and her duet partner swap lines warning each other against dating someone else. It is not a traditional country record by any means, but is still very good, and reached #5 on Billboard.

Also doing well on radio was ‘It Won’t Be Me’, another almost playful song about a painful lesson Tanya just won’t face up to, written by Tom Shapiro and Chris Waters:
“To see her fall apart would be more than I could bear
I’m just too close to that girl in the mirror there
Somebody’s got to tell her, she’s got to let him go –
But it won’t be me”

With the final single release from the album, the label turned to the anguished reproach of ‘Oh What It Did To Me’, a more traditional country waltz. My personal favorite of the singles, although it was the least successful, just missing the top 10, it is an excellent song written by producer Jerry Crutchfield, as the protagonist is betrayed by a cheating spouse trying to sweep it all under the carpet:
“You say when she held you, it did nothing to you,
But oh, what it did to me!
You say when she kissed you, you didn’t feel a thing,
But I felt enough for all three”

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Album Review: Tanya Tucker – ‘Girls Like Me’

girlslikemeIn 1982, Tanya Tucker left MCA Records and signed as the new flagship artist for Arista Records, which was trying to break into the country market. There were no other country artists on the label at the time, and Arista had no infrastructure in Nashville, so it was poorly equipped to market country music. The album, 1982’s Changes, was a commercial failure, producing only one top ten hit, “Feel Right”. Two subsequent singles failed to crack the top 20, and Tanya Tucker disappeared from the country charts.

After a three-year hiatus from recording, and now without a record deal, Tucker was ready to get back in the game, only to find that her partying lifestyle, and her highly publicized abusive relationship with Glen Campbell from a few years earlier, had taken their toll on her reputation. No one in Nashville wanted to have anything to do with her. Even Billy Sherrill, the man who had discovered her, refused to help.

Fortunately for Tanya, Jerry Crutchfield, who had produced some of her early albums for MCA, was willing to help her obtain a new recording contract. Mercury Records was willing to offer her a contract but was unwilling to provide a sufficient budget to make a first-rate album. Crutchfield fared better when he approached Capitol Records. After a lot of persuading and negotiating, Tanya was signed to a contract with Capitol, but it was only a one album deal. This was the album that would make or break her career.

Fate was on Tucker’s side, because the album that resulted from this contract was 1986’s Girls Like Me, which revived Tanya’s career and set the stage for her to become one of the top female acts in country music for the rest of the 1980s and 1990s.

Her first single for Capitol was “One Love At A Time”. It was radio friendly and her most solidly country single in years. Written by Paul Overstreet and Paul Davis, who would go on to write many more hits for her, it peaked at #3 on the Billboard country singles chart. The second single, “Just Another Love” written by Paul Davis, went all the way to #1. By now, everyone knew that Tanya Tucker was back. Two subsequent singles also made the top 10; “I’ll Come Back As Another Woman”, a tale of a woman who vows revenge on the man who jilted her, peaked at #2, while the beautiful ballad “It’s Only Over For You” reached #8.

This was one of those albums that contained a number of tracks that were strong enough to have been released to radio, and if the album had been released ten years later, it likely would have spawned more than four singles. “Fool, Fool Heart” is a ballad similar in style to “It’s Only Over For You” and “Somebody To Care” is similar in style to songs like “Love Me Like You Used To” and “Strong Enough To Bend”, which would become big hits for Tanya in the future.

For years, the title track was my least favorite song on the album, despite having been written by the extremely talented Matraca Berg and Ronnie Samoset. It tells the story of a woman who’s been disappointed in love more than a few times, and though she fears that “maybe love was never meant to be for girls like me”, she refuses to abandon hope altogether. It is the least country track on the album; the production is more contemporary and the song has a slightly bluesy feel to it. As a result, it always seemed to be a little out of place on this album. It wasn’t until I was listening to it again to prepare for this review that I began to appreciate what a well-written and beautifully crafted song this really is, even though it is not as catchy and radio-friendly as most of Tucker’s other work.

Though not traditional country, the album manages not to fall into the trap of heavy-handed production that marred so many other 80s releases, much to the credit of producer Jerry Crutchfield. Girls Like Me peaked at #20 on the Billboard country albums chart, and although it did not earn gold certification, it is one of the most important albums in Tucker’s catalog, because it reinvigorated her stagnant career. Without it, her career would have been over, and the country music landscape in the late 80s and the 90s would have been much different and not nearly as enjoyable.

Grade: A

Girls Like Me is out of print in CD form, but it can be purchased digitally at iTunes or Amazon.

Listen to Girls Like Me at Last FM.

Classic Rewind: Tanya Tucker, Paul Davis & Paul Overstreet – ‘I Won’t Take Less Than Your Love’