Although she eventually became one of the biggest stars on the planet, Shania Twain was no overnight success. When Mercury Nashville signed the Canadian to its roster and sent her on a 15-city promotional tour with two other new acts in 1993, John Brannen and Toby Keith, only the latter connected with radio listeners, earning a Number One hit with “Should’ve Been a Cowboy.” Upon release, Twain’s self-titled debut LP languished on the charts, with none of its three singles reaching country’s Top 40. As with so many music-business hopefuls the story could have ended there, but fate intervened. Or, rather, Robert John “Mutt” Lange did.
A native of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), who moved to England in his twenties, Lange would be responsible for producing some of the most successful — and influential — rock & roll albums of the Seventies and Eighties, including AC/DC’s Back in Black and Def Leppard’s Hysteria. As a songwriter, he co-wrote Bryan Adams’ worldwide smash “Everything I Do (I Do It for You),” among many other hits. However, after initiating phone conversations with Twain, where the two talked about music for hours on end, their connection also became a personal one. The couple finally met face-to-face in June 1993 at Nashville’s Fan Fair (now CMA Music Festival) and by the end of the year were married. By that time, they had collaborated on several songs together and Twain informed her label that she wanted Lange to produce her second LP.
When The Woman in Me was released in February 1995, the playful “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under” was the first single, peaking just outside the Top 10. But it was the follow-up single, “Any Man of Mine,” that proved to be the “breathtakin’, earthquakin’ kind” of thing country — and pop — music fans were ready for. Written with the working title “This Man of Mine,” Twain took a riff Lange played for her and added lyrics from another song she had been working on to come up with the tune that would be her first Number One single, topping the charts for two weeks beginning July 22nd, 1995. The achievement made Twain the first non-American to top the country chart since fellow countrywoman Anne Murray in 1986.
The song’s success would also send The Woman in Me to the Number One spot on the country chart for the first of three separate trips. It eventually became the top-selling country LP of 1996, and has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide since its release. The tune had been a staple of Twain’s live shows right up through her final tour in 2015. “This next song reads like a book of rules for the men in our lives,” Twain told the crowd at the Chicago stop of her 2003 UP! Tour, as seen in the above clip, advising the men in the audience, “It’s not too hard on you guys, but it’s very good to know.”
Featuring backing vocals from Lange, doing a spot-on Dwight Yoakam impersonation, “Any Man of Mine” was aided considerably by an eye-poppin’, heart-stoppin’ video co-directed by Charley Randazzo and actor John Derek, husband of Bo Derek, who caused her own sensation running on the beach in braids in the 1980 film 10. Shot on the couple’s California ranch and highlighted by Twain’s sensual gyrations and bare midriff, some of the clip’s original footage was reportedly too racy for the record label. But the finished product helped Twain also score her first pop Top 40 hit as well. Country line dancers were also scootin’ boots to the song in clubs and, in the 21 years since its release, the tune has been parodied by comedian Cledus T. Judd and performed live by Lady Antebellum.
Twain and Lange would continue to collaborate until the 2005 release of the single “Shoes.” The couple separated in 2008 and officially divorced in 2010.