Story Three  10/03/10

    Well, if you have read my previous stories then you have learned that because of my unusual upbringing, I was introduced to various celebrities, even before I knew they were celebrities. Well, that naturally carried over into my adulthood. I guess what I am trying to say is that ALL of the stories aren’t heartwarming little tales of cute little me and innocent little ironies.  After all, I did grow up. Okay, maybe not. But I did, get older.

    With that said, I have decided to write a story about Tanya Tucker.  I have encountered Tanya many times over the years. This story is about the first time that I met her. I was probably about 21 years old. So I would put this story sometime around 1984. I will call it…


    I want to start this story out by saying that I like Tanya Tucker. I like her a lot. She is a no-nonsense, speaker of the truth with sass and a boatload of talent. I sang many a Tanya song into my hairbrush. She’s only five years older than me, so when I was listening at 14 she was singing them at 19. Living my dream. She recorded this obscure song called “Spring”. It was never a giant hit but it took courage to record it. It was a little bit edgy, for the times. Especially considering she was a teenager herself. I always admired her for sticking to her guns and not being censored. Anyway, Tanya has lived in the Nashville area for as long as I can remember. Nashville is really kind of like a small town. Especially the music business community.  There are several places that we all go that have just become institutions over the years. Certain restaurants and honky tonks that singers, songwriters and publishers go to hang out.  When they start to become “touristy” then we find a new one. In the heyday of these hangouts it wasn’t uncommon to see Tanya and George Jones and Waylon and Harlan Howard and Johnny Rodriguez and folks like that just hanging out, picking and singing, and yes, sometimes indulging in a tall cool libation. It also wasn’t uncommon to see me there. I was in my early twenties, drinking age, somewhat known around town for a few shows I had done but mostly as “Oh yeah, that’s Cowboy’s daughter”. Either way, I was “in” and that’s all that mattered.

    There used to be a place here called The Third Coast. It was a cool bar with comfy sofas and lots of ashtrays. You could smoke then. And everybody did. It was “the” place. It was on the ground floor of what we all still refer to as the Rock and Roll Hotel. It was almost a right of passage to live for a short stint in the Rock and Roll Hotel. You were a bona fide musical rebel and eccentric outlaw, if you lived there for a minute. The walls of this hotel obviously can’t talk. If they could you would be reading it’s book and not this story.

    It was a wonderful time of singing and making records and getting record deals and having drinks over it. Music Row was really hustling and bustling during these days. It was run on experience and handshakes and good old boy methods. Far from the corporate and changed thing it has become now.  It was fun. There was mutual respect and camaraderie and I liked it all.

    I promise I am not breaking some sort of “don’t tell” code by mentioning the drinking and partying that was going on. Stories of these escapades were a dime a dozen in the paper and on the news and around the water cooler. I’m certainly not the first to mention the fun times had over libation and cigarettes. I may be the first to talk about it as fondly and wonderfully as I do. Did I mention, we were just having fun being musical and eccentric? That’s the way I see it.

    Anyway, one such night, I was at “the Coast” as I called it, in undoubtedly some bejeweled outfit with some giant hairdo with about a half a can of Aqua Net sprayed in it and some giant earrings and maybe even a gold purse. It was the eighties and visually, anyway, we were living the disco era dream. We took our fashion tips from Saturday Night Fever and Hee Haw, if that helps with the visual. The bigger the better. The louder the better. We all seemed to agree that whoever said, “less is more” just didn’t have anything.

    Just like now, celebrities then, would tend to be surrounded by an entourage. A posse, if you will. In Nashville in the 80’s, a posse usually consisted of your manager, one of your band members that you hung out with when you were not on the road, a few of your closest friends and a few newbies. Newbies were the people that had most recently endeared themselves to the celebrity by sitting nearby and telling them how great everything they did, was. They were sometimes fans that had charmed their way into being drug around as a VIP for a short time. The newbies also went and got the car and always made sure the celeb didn’t forget their purse and constantly reminded everyone of all of the celebrity’s accomplishments. A true fan, which had now, in their mind, reached the top of the list of things they wanted to do above everything else. Unfortunately, newbies seldom ever turned into oldies. They were a bit on the expendable side. Was that not nice to say?  I’m trying to be nice, I promise. That’s just really kind of the way it was.

    Well, on this night, Tanya was at the “coast” with her posse. They were holding court at one of the tables, laughing and singing and sipping libation. I was at another table with my pseudo posse. I call it that because I was not technically a celebrity so I couldn’t technically have a real posse. But, I had my own group of friends. We, too, were laughing, singing and sipping libation. I guess, to a novice onlooker, my posse probably looked legit. I certainly assumed so.

    Another trendy thing to do, apparently, if you are a female celebrity, is to take your posse to the bathroom with you. I guess, to hand you your hairbrush and assure you that you don’t have toilet paper stuck to your glittery, rhinestone studded pink boot. Or maybe it was to make sure that there were enough people in the bathroom that there wouldn’t be any room for any fans or newbies. Or maybe it was because that’s what girls do. They go in groups. I don’t know why. Maybe it was just a coincidence that they all went.

    So here I am singing a little a cappella version of Will The Circle Be Unbroken with MY posse when Tanya and HER posse got up and went to the restroom. Now let me tell you a little bit about Miss Tanya at this day and time. She was certainly well liked and people loved to see her coming. She was the life of the party and she came early and stayed late. She would tell you that herself if she were writing this. It was all good. That’s what we did. She did have a bit of a reputation for speaking her mind. Which, actually, endeared her to me. She could, if she wanted to, keep you from getting too close. In a saucy yet firm way. If you didn’t have a little sauce and spunk yourself and were on the other end of it, you might be a little intimidated. I imagine it is tough to have everybody wanting to get right up in the middle of all of your business all of the time. I couldn’t really blame her and I admired her spunk.

    She, of course, did NOT know me and had no clue IF I was anybody or certainly didn’t know whether or not I had my own share of spunk. To her, if she saw me coming, she probably assumed I was just another fan hoping to graduate to newbie. She had no clue that I was NOT star struck. Good thing I wasn’t, because if I were, I wouldn’t have been able to talk to hardly anybody I knew for my whole life, including my own father.

    After my song was over, I decided to go to the restroom. Probably because I needed to go to the restroom but since I was so young and girl like, I may have gone just because I wanted to see why it took a whole posse to take Tanya to the restroom. Maybe it was because, I went alone and wanted her to see that I didn’t need no stinkin’ posse. Who knows, but I went.

    I got to the door and I pushed and nothing happened. It felt like a door with a person leaning against it on the other side. Probably because there was a person leaning against it on the other side. It was Tanya. Seems that she and her posse were getting all gussied up and hair sprayed up and didn’t want anybody else to come in. So I pushed again and said, “hey, excuse me, but I would like to get in the restroom, please” (sidebar, it’s so neat to write stories about yourself, you can make yourself sound SO polite) and then I pushed again.

    Nothing but a bunch of tee hee hee on the other side. Random voices saying things like “Tanya is busy getting ready” and “Just a minute, Tanya is in here”. After I thought, well duh, I thought, Oh No She Didn’t. So I knocked again. Feverishly.  Tanya opened the door and met my face about 4 inches from hers and she said, “You’ll need a password to get IN HERE” and shut the door. Oh No She Didn’t, for real this time. I was kinda, well, uh, mmm, uh, pissed. I mean, my posse might not be real, and I might not be fighting off fans, but I did need to go to the bathroom. And apparently, I was gonna need a password.

    As I shifted from foot to foot, growing in discomfort, trying to think of what to say, it hit me. I had one thing going for ME that Tanya did not have going for HER and that, was, access to EVERYTHING other than the bathroom. So, I planted my voluptuous, curvaceous, saucy self in the doorway. I pressed my body up against the door as closely as I could. My hair practically touched the top of the doorframe and I put my hands on my hips and waited. A few moments later, Tanya opened the door and there we stood, body to body and I said, “YOU are going to need a password to get OUT HERE”. You could have heard a pin drop. Her posse was speechless, “Yeah, Miss Missy, where’s your posse now?”  I’m thinking,  and then Tanya, without any real delay, says “the password is: I Like you, you’ve got spunk, drinks are on me”.

    Well, knock me over with a feather. I did not think she was going to say that. I thought she was going to sic her posse on me and I was ready for a little lively chance to defend my mediocrity. What happened next, is still a phenomenon that I can’t believe includes me as a statistic. I was a newbie.

    I loved EVERYTHING about being a newbie. I even had the glorious advantage of knowing that my reign as newbie would be short lived and that it was all fun and games because I wouldn’t want to do it for very long anyway. So I jumped right in. I was newbie extraordinaire. I said “hell yeah” to all of the VIP treatment, I let her pay the tab, I let her sort out the transportation, I let her pick the party venue and I followed along enthusiastically. It was one heck of a three or four days. We sang and caroused and rocked and rolled and rubbed elbows for one of the most fun weekends I’ve ever had. The difference in MY newbie experience was also that once Tanya knew my history and who my father was, she treated me like an equal. She had a great respect for my father and consequently, an instant one for me. Let’s just say, I never went and got the car. Or rambled on about how great she was. Although she was great. Then and now. She was delightful and generous and remarkable during our TanyaStock weekend. I’ll never forget it.

    When the party finally ended and all the songs had been sung and all the names had been dropped and all the libation consumed, Tanya and I parted for our respective homesteads after a heartfelt hug and a promise that we would always be friends.

    I am still friends with Tanya. She is a tried and true performer that impacted me as a child and a grown up. She deserves the respect she commands. Plus, she’s got spunk and I like her. And next time I see her, drinks are on me.

    Years later, I would go to work for Lynn Anderson. I worked for Lynn for five years. Lynn and Tanya are great friends and I would encounter Tanya again through that relationship. But that is another story. You will have to just wait; it’ll turn up here in Story Time.

Story Time

   Click on the books
   for previous stories
Click on Tanya's picture for a vintage performance of the song Spring, from 1977
One of my favorite
Tanya songs ever!
Click on the sparrows for a gorgeous performance of
Two Sparrows In A Hurricane
Tanya Tucker's
former home
in Arrington, TN