Tanya Tucker secured her first hit single at the age of just 13 years old. Unlike many child performers whose stars fade the moment they exit their teens, Tucker’s audience continued to grow as she matured. Over the course of her career, she’s released multiple hugely successful albums, won numerous Grammys and other awards, and scored a streak of Top 10 hits. In tribute to one of country’s most enduringly popular figures, here’s our pick of the 10 best Tanya Tucker songs of all time.
10. Pecos Promenade
In the ’80s, Tucker began dabbling with acting, appearing in a slew of TV movies. Her songs also provided the soundtrack to various country and western films, including “Smokey and the Bandit II.” Her big contribution to the movie was Pecos Promenade, a dancehall-inspired number that, thanks to the film’s success, broke into the Top 10 of the country charts in 1980.
9. Would You Lay With Me (In A Field of Stone)
Tucker was just 13 when she released her first hit, Delta Dawn, in 1972. While she was still in her teens, the press cast her in the role of a sex symbol, with Rolling Stone leading the charge with a cover that billed her as “The Teenage Teaser” and citing songs like Would You Lay With Me (In A Field of Stone) as fodder for her male fans. But Rolling Stone had it wrong. As udiscovermusic.com might seem salacious on first reading, but it’s actually nothing more than a series of metaphors about commitment that the composer David Allan Coe first wrote for his brother’s wedding vows. Released in December 1973 as the first single and title track from Tucker’s third studio, it soared to the top of the country charts.
8. Love Me Like You Used To
By the time Tucker made her first comeback in the late 80s (she’s been around long enough to make several), country music had become a whole lot more sensual. Tucker’s music always had a sexy side, and it fit right into the new mood. Love Me Like You Used To is a mature, uptempo number about a relationship that’s well past its expiry date. Originally recorded by Johnny Cash for his 1985 studio album Rainbow, it took Tucker to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart on its release.
7. I’ll Come Back As Another Woman
After several years away from the charts, Tucker began her 80s comeback with the album Girls Like Me. The album re-established her status as one of country’s leading ladies, peaking at No. 20 on the Billboard Top Country Albums. It generated several hits, including Just Another Love, One Love at a Time, and the No. 1 single Only Over for You. It also gave us the No. 2 hit single, I’ll Come Back As Another Woman, a song about a woman who vows to get revenge on her ex. The vocals are astounding, finding Tucker sounding maturer than she’d been in her earlier years, but more powerful and controlled than ever.
6. Delta Dawn
Of all her singles, Tucker’s first remains her most well-known. Written by Alex Harvey and former child rockabilly star Larry Collins, Delta Dawn became a number one hit for Helen Reddy in 1973, but it’s Tucker’s spine-tingling rendition from the previous year that’s proved the most enduring of the two. At the time, Tucker was just 13 years old, but the emotional depth and power of her voice are those of a seasoned veteran. Released in April 1972, it reached No. 6 on the country charts.
5. Walkin’ Shoes
Described by countrythangdaily.com as an empowering song to all the people who are in a bad relationship, Walkin’ Shoes is a clever breakup song with a difference. Written by Paul Kennerly and released as the first single of her album Tennessee Woman, the song gave Tucker her first hit of the 1990s when it reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in Mach 1990.
4. Blood Red and Goin’ Down
Blood Red and Goin’ Down was written by Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame member Curly Putman about a child witnessing her mother’s murder at the hands of her father. The juxtaposition between the heavy subject matter and the midtempo Western arrangements is splendidly done, while Tucker’s deft handling and gorgeous vibrato are as wonderful as ever. Released in June 1973 as the second single from Tucker’s album What’s Your Mama’s Name, it became the singer’s second number one on the country charts.
3. What’s Your Mama’s Name
Written by Dallas Frazier and Earl Montgomery, What’s Your Mama’s Name tells the story of Buford Wilson, a drunkard from Memphis who meets a terrible end after trying to track down both his lost love and daughter. Like much of Tucker’s early output, the sadness of the song is matched with a sing-along chorus and an almost upbeat vibe. On its release in February 1973, it soared to the top of the country charts to become Tucker’s first number-one single.
2. Here’s Some Love
As Billboard notes, lyrically, there’s nothing particularly extraordinary about Here’s Some Love. But the ace production combined with Tucker’s infectious charm transformed it into one of the biggest and catchiest country hits of 1976. Released as the first single from the album of the same name, it became Tucker’s sixth number one on the country chart.
1. Strong Enough To Bend
Tucker’s final country No. 1 was Strong Enough To Bend. Written by Beth Nielsen Chapman and Don Schlitz, the song is all about the importance of compromise in a relationship…. a theme Tucker may not have been able to do justice to in her early career, but which she was more than capable of handling by 1988. Delivered with conviction and a generous helping of Tucker’s trademark charisma, it’s a beautiful performance, and one fully deserving of a place at the top of our list of the best Tanya Tucker songs of a time.