The making of a tribute album in honor of Tammy Wynette was long overdue. And while good things truly do come to those who wait, country music’s late First Lady, unfortunately, isn’t around to hear how very precious the tribute turned out.
Entitled Tammy Wynette…Remembered, the brand new Asylum Records release may indeed capture an impressive list of Tammy’s significant hits over the years, but it does not make up for her loss. By listening to these songs, however, along with the gushing amount of respect and emotion that each of these hand-picked song stylists obviously pour into every note, it becomes even more evident just how deeply Tammy was loved and admired.
“I am extremely proud of this record,” says Asylum records President, Evelyn Shriver. “This project was done for all the right reasons and by all the right people. Every artist and person involved in this disc loved Tammy and she them.”
While she may have become famous for her heart-thrashing songs and tear-filled voice, she became a superstar, a legend, an idol and an angel in disguise just for being herself. The world just happens to be blessed because she opted to open herself through her music. Her impact is endless — not only with a phenomenally worldwide fan base, but with countless other entertainers from both the country and pop-rock music worlds. That’s what Tammy Wynette…Remembered is all about and more.
Song selection was obviously one of the most difficult first steps in conjuring the tribute collection. Tammy had performed and recorded countless songs throughout her career. The list, however, was shaved down to a can’t-live-without dozen, including such classics as “I Don’t Wanna Play House,” “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad,” “Apartment #9,” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and “Stand By Your Man.”
Determining exactly who would record the Wynette favorites would also be a challenge. After all, who didn’t love or was in some form or fashion influenced by the great First Lady. The final cut resulted in one of the most stellar vocal line ups possible, featuring superstars from both the country and pop music formats — proving once again that Tammy’s talent and personality has and always will appeal worldwide.
Believe it or not, Elton John kicks off the project with his own rendition of perhaps Tammy’s signature song of all time — “Stand By Your Man.” The two had worked together before when they recorded a song that was featured on both Elton’s 1993 Duets release and Tammy’s Without Walls project the following year. After having worked together on a session with Elton in England, Tammy asked him to autograph a lyric sheet and he wrote, “Dearest Tammy, The Queen of Country Music Meets the Queen of England – Love Elton.” “I know that Tammy would be chuckling away that I would be doing this song,” explains Elton. “For me to be singing “Stand By Your Man” — I just think it’s very tongue-in-cheek — Tammy would have loved me doing it.”
Another singer who’s undoubtedly followed the footsteps of Tammy in both the hit records and awards departments is today’s dynamic diva Trisha Yearwood, who is featured singing the driving ballad, “Til I Get It Right.” “I hoped no one would take my remake as an attempt to outdo Tammy,” says Trisha. “No one could ever out-sing her.”
The tribute album not only brings together a sterling list of singing stars, but also brings back a couple of faded favorites. Both Rosanne Cash and K.T. Oslin appear on the disc beautifully crooning out the classics “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and the sassy “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad.” “This was a huge song,” admits K.T., who remembers one time being mistaken for Tammy by a hotel room serviceman because he heard that a famous country singer was staying at the hotel.
Pop-rock songstress Melissa Etheridge brilliantly unfolds her version of Tammy’s treasured 1966 debut hit “Apartment #9.” “That is one of the saddest, loneliest songs,” Melissa says. “It was the first time people heard her sing and she had this tear in her voice.” Melissa, who met Tammy in New York City a while back when the two were both performing in surrounding clubs, also admits it was Tammy’s “big voice” that influenced her to sing with much of the same guts and openness.
What would a Tammy Wynette tribute album be without featuring long-time duet partner and ex-hubby George Jones? He chose Tammy’s emotionally appealing 1968 hit “Take Me To Your World.” “It was always one of my favorite Tammy songs,” he admits. “It’s such a pretty song and I just always loved hearing her sing it.” Tammy and George were married in 1969 and divorced in ’75, after becoming one of the music world’s all-time favorite and most talented duets.
Other names added to the who’s who list of guest singers include Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, Wynonna, country newcomer Sara Evans and Beach Boy Brian Wilson, who is heard singing alongside Tammy on her very last recording from 1996. The classic Beach Boys song, “In My Room” was originally recorded for a never released country-salutes-the-Beach-Boys sequel album.
While an extraordinary showcase of talent and personal homage is evident throughout the entire Tammy Wynette…Remembered disc, it’s Lorrie Morgan’s heavenly performance of the impeccable “You And Me,” a No. 1 song for Tammy in 1976, that truly reflects the talent, truth and spirit of the legendary songstress. With Lorrie’s performance of “You And Me,” those very same qualities could not be any more existent. Naturally enough though, it was Morgan, who at Tammy’s early April funeral services in Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, offered a most humbling and heart-piercing deliverance of “Stand By Your Man,” at the family’s request. Just as she did then, Morgan sings again on the tribute album with astonishing poise, professionalism and personal loss. It’s as if the tear that’s so often said to be heard in Tammy’s voice has dropped down into Lorrie’s.
“I had been singing ‘You And Me’ since I was really young on the Ralph Emery Morning Show,” remembers Lorrie. “I just thought it was the most beautiful, sensuous song that I had ever heard. Tammy’s music is real. It’s about women,” she reported. “Her songs are about our feelings — it’s OK to cry, it’s OK to be hurt and still love the guy. None of it was bubble-gum music. It was about real life.”
Tammy Wynette died unexpectedly of a blood clot to the lungs on April 6, 1998. Her death shocked and saddened not only country music fans and associates, but people all over the world. Her memorial service, held at the Ryman Auditorium, was telecast live worldwide by CNN.