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Tanya Tucker: "The Years Are Paying Off For Me Now"

Details Working with Brandi Carlile, Shooter Jennings, Dennis Quaid and Kris Kristofferson on New Album

One can only dream of being as country cool and badass as Tanya Tucker.

The 60-year-old music legend has her own line of tequila, Cosa Salvaje. She’s getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Available Aug. 23, her new album, While I’m Livin’, with producers Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings is one of the most highly anticipated country releases this year since.

Also, Elvis Presley once tried to make out with her when she was 17. No big deal.

The 10-song While I’m Livin’ is her first full-length album in 17 years and features songs mostly written by Brandi Carlile and twins Tim Hanseroth and Phil Hanseroth with covers of Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me,” “High Ridin’ Heroes,” a 1987 song Jennings selected that featured David Lynn Jones and his dad, Waylon Jennings, and the latest single, “Hard Luck,” an original by country-rockers, Josefus.

“It’s a musical biography of sorts,” Carlile says in a press release, “about Tanya’s real life and the places she’s seen, and it’s narrated by the greatest country and western singer this side of Johnny Cash.”

Tucker will headline three album release shows at Nashville’s Exit/In (Aug. 22), New York City’s Bowery Ballroom (Sept. 17) and Los Angeles’ Troubadour (Oct. 16). Tickets go on sale Friday (July 12) at 10 a.m. local time through Tucker’s website.

Enjoy more from CMT.com’s recent Q&A with Tucker:

CMT.com: Did you know Shooter when he was growing up?

Tucker: Yeah. Everybody knows Shooter, you know. I knew Shooter before he was Shooter. But I didn't get to spend any concentrated amount of time with him when he was growing up. But we spent three weeks together in the studio, and it was an incredible experience. I look back on it and want to do it again. That's how come I know it was fun.

What were some of the stories you wanted to tell on your next album?

So many stories that it would take a long time to tell you. I guess one of the things would be that I had sang an idea to Brandi in the studio that I had been carrying around with me forever, and I had the chorus, but I couldn't find the meat. I had sang it to her, and she's like, "We oughta write that." We went along about our business, and in the last day, I walked into the control room, and she said, "Hey, let's finish that song, that idea you had." And I went, "This ain't my usual gig. I'm a singer, not a songwriter." Harlan Howard always told me I was a writer trying to get out of a singer's body. If you just stop and do it awhile, you can do it. Brandi stopped me, and we went into the piano room and finished the song. Now it's the title song on the album, "Bring My Flowers Now While I'm Livin'" is the title, and I feel very proud of that. I'm very happy. I just realized that right now. It's pretty cool that that happened.

Is there anything new that you discovered about yourself in writing with Brandi that surprised you?

It was just everything. The level of comfort, if I could pick one word that I really like to be the most, it wouldn't be sexy, pretty, or any of those things. It would be comfortable, and I love the feeling of being comfortable.

There were some things that I'd sing a couple times, but there were things that I would have like to have fixed, but she said, "No, I want this to be you and what people want to hear is what you react to and how you react singing a song with no sugar-coating it." So, that's what it is. That's a little different for me, and I have an album that I've been working on for 10 years, it's called Messes. It's not out. I haven't even mastered it yet. I know every little note, and if something's wrong, I go back and fix it. Everything is fixed, and everything is perfect, and I'm looking forward to releasing that someday, hopefully next. But this album is raw, real and I guess is a little bit of hesitation on my behalf because one never thinks they're good enough for that. And you're always wanting people to like you, so my whole business is based on people liking me, and if they don't, then I'm out business. I want to be liked.

There's a level of confidence to want to think that what you are is good enough for everybody else, and I think that what Brandi has shown me is that what I am is good enough for anybody.

Who is the country celebrity crush who made you a country fan for forever and ever amen?

I just did a song with Kristofferson, and I hadn't seen him in a long time. I did a song that Dennis Quaid wrote, and Dennis was freaking out because I got Kris on it, and then Dennis sang on it and then now we've got Brandi singing on it. It's called "On My Way to Heaven." It's my favorite song right now. And I just love Kristofferson. His wife Lisa, she knows it, [when] I gotta play with that hair a little while. And so it's funny because I hadn't seen him in 20-30 years, and now we've gotten closer than ever. We're like [crosses fingers] they FaceTime me all the time. I love that. It feels like the years are paying off for me now.

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