“I ain’t going to be caught loitering around that song,” Tanya Tucker said when Brandi Carlile suggested she record a version of Miranda Lambert’s Grammy-winning “The House That Built Me” for her upcoming album While I’m Livin‘. “There is nothing I can bring to that table.”
But Carlile proved too persuasive and Tucker soon found herself in the booth wrapping her lived-in voice around the 2010 song written by Allen Shamblin and Tom Douglas.
“I was shaking my head, but she talked me into it,” Tucker says. “And Brandi was with me the whole time in the vocal booth, going, ‘Try it like this.’ I followed her, and it was 43 takes on the first line of the song. But now I listen to it and it gives me chills.”
When Lambert released the song, she was 27; Tucker is 60, and the lyrics take on even more weight when she recasts some lines to make them about her children. This isn’t a narrator returning to the house that reared her, but to the home where she raised her kids alone. “Once the kids were grown it was just too much for me,” Tucker sings.
“It’s almost not like me [singing] it,” she says of the transcendent experience of recording the track. “All I remember is reading all the words. And if I’d miss one, we’d start again. Other than that, there were no overdubs. There was no fixing nothing.”
In the end, Tucker’s “The House That Built Me” stands as one of the high points of While I’m Livin‘. Produced by Carlile and Shooter Jennings, the album will be released August 23rd.