Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile on the movie song “Ready as I’ll Never Be”

Country star Tanya Tucker and her friend and producer Brandi Carlile are more ready than ever to be considered for movie awards because a song they co-wrote for a documentary they both starred in earlier this year in the mix of current contenders is . This song, “Ready as I’ll Never Be,” a deeply personal ballad about how the next generation moves on, is a heartbreak and should be considered if voters get a chance to hear it — which Tucker admits hopes very much that they do.

“I would love for the world to hear it,” says Tucker diversity. “I just want the opportunity to be heard. And then if they don’t like me, that’s fine, but just listen to me, just for three minutes.” Adding characteristically, “If the Oscars give me a nod or a kick in the butt — both I appreciate it!”

The song appears at the end of The Return of Tanya Tucker, Featuring Brandi Carlile, a Sony Classics documentary that played festivals like SXSW and Telluride and then premiered in theaters in November. It chronicles the making of Tucker’s 2019 comeback album While I’m Livin’, which won two Grammys (her first in a 50-year career) in 2022. The film theme is their first new music since this album.

Tucker says, “It’s about losing my heroes, because I started at a young age – 13 – so I had to hang out with some of my biggest heroes, and then they leave this world before me. And I have to watch them fly away. So that’s what it’s about – and also losing my parents because they were my heroes. And Billy Joe Shaver…Loretta Lynn (who just died this fall while Tucker was performing at her televised memorial service)…I mean, back to Elvis. It’s really a special song for me.”

Carlile tells the full genesis story, how the tune came about, and how it was her job to translate one of Tucker’s trademark funny but meaningful lines into something more stoic for the studio. “The night Billy Joe Shaver died, I was in Nashville meeting Tanya and Leslie Jordan for dinner. I met Tanya outside on the street as she got out of her car and I put my arm around her and said ‘I’m so sorry about Billy Joe’ because she loved him, So much – like, they were soul mates. And she was as stoic and gruff as she can be when she’s in her zone. And she said, ‘Oh baby. You know, I’m going to watch each and every one of them grow their wings.”

“And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s right, huh? Because you’re the youngest – all your friends are older than you.” And I was referring to that. InstantlyI associated with it,” says Carlile, now in her early 40s and known for working with ’70s heroes like Elton John and Joni Mitchell.

“She says, ‘Yes, I was the youngest. So I’ll watch each of them get their wings. You know I guess I’m ready Ready like I’ll never be.” And I said, ‘Oh, Tanya, what you just said really touches me deeply. And as soon as this dinner is over, I have to write that into a song.” She thought she was going to make a lighthearty, John Prine-y joke, you know. And we had also just lost John, who she also had a really important relationship with. So I went home and wrote it based on her life, her aspirations to join the Opry and the way Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Dolly opened their arms to her and the relationship she has with Waylon had Jennings and Merle Haggard and (Johnny) Cash and just the way all these older people sort of wrapped them up and looked after them.

“And as luck would have it, she’s going to be around longer than these guys because she was only 13. And so she has to go through this over and over again. And she really has nothing but spiritual gratitude for it because she is willing to accept the consequence of her mentorship, which will watch them go or, as she puts it, grow their wings.”

Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile winners of the Best Country Album Award for ‘While I’m Livin” backstage during the 62nd annual GRAMMY Awards premiere party at Microsoft Theater on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
Getty Images for The Recording A

After 50 years of hits, it often comes as a surprise to people to learn that Tucker is only 64 years old. You think she must be older, “and then you realize she’s not,” says Carlile. “That’s why I wanted to call the last album ‘While I’m Livin’ because I kind of wanted to say, wake up guys! We have them right here. We can enjoy them. Let’s not miss this opportunity like we’ve missed with so many other women, you know? She can still do the damn splits! She is Tanya Tucker.

“And she feels those things, but she doesn’t know how to communicate that way. She doesn’t like to say it like that. As a co-writer, as a friend, and as a producer, she lets me write her words as they come out funny and in one-liners into these songs, and then she sings them. This is how she talks to people – she chooses a song based on whether the lyrics appeal to her. So she’s so hyper and funny and such an entertainer that she feels Stuff like ‘Ready as I’ll Never Be’, but I don’t think she really wants to know how to express it other than through songs. So I was able to be a little bit of a harbinger of that kind of message for them. Because she can’t be serious without help,” adds Carlile, laughing.

“Ready as I’ll Never Be” has already won a film music award and won Best Original Song for a Documentary at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, held in LA in November.

On the non-movie front, Tucker has a second album with Carlile and Shooter Jennings in the producing seats, due out next summer on Fantasy titled Sweet Western Sounds.

Tucker says she also has a one-off single in the can that she hopes to release, written by boyfriend Dennis Quaid, entitled “On My Way to Heaven.” Kris Kristofferson provided and appears in a music video that was filmed.

“Kris Kristofferson sang on it and this could probably be the last song he ever sang. Brandi came in and played some harmonies on it. Then I wanted to make a video and I want the world to see it because everyone needs to hear this song because it’s for everyone. Hopefully we’re all on our way to heaven. And with Kristofferson in the video, if I hadn’t taken this opportunity to have him in that video, I would have kicked myself later. So let’s edit the video now. John Carter Cash is the son of Johnny Cash. How wild is that? And Quaid is there. I think it has such a great, deep message, and I want it in every Christian outlet out there, in every atheist outlet, no matter what,” she laughs. “And it’s not about money. I mean I spent a lot of money on it and trying to put the video together isn’t cheap but it will be worth it if I get the chance to be heard.”

Tucker is currently appearing in her first-ever lead role in the Paramount+ film, A Nashville Country Christmas. Between that and this year’s documentary, she seemed to be in high gear. But she has a very specific further claim in the film world.

At a National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards banquet in LA earlier this month, Tucker received a lifetime achievement award, as did Frozen director Jennifer Lee earlier in the evening. When Tucker took the podium, she jokingly but seriously asked Lee to be considered as a voice actress in a future Disney film.

“Do you know why I’ve always wanted to be a Disney character?” Tucker told Variety after the ceremony. “I mean, people keep telling me, ‘You have such a recognizable voice.’ Well, I’m not getting the calls. I haven’t gotten the call yet! I want the call,” she repeated, just to be sure.

https://variety.com/2022/awards/news/tanya-tucker-brandi-carlile-film-song-ready-as-ill-never-be-documentary-theme-1235461920/ Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile on the movie song “Ready as I’ll Never Be”

Charles Jones

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