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Q&A with Tanya Tucker & Gretchen Wilson -- The two country artists talk about their new friendship and their television special in which they perform together

''I know all the words to every Tanya Tucker song,'' Gretchen Wilson boasted in her breakthrough song, listing her credentials as a ''Redneck Woman.'' Now, Wilson and Tucker (who rose to fame as a near-child star in the '70s) have become fast friends. They unite for an intergenerational Outlaws special on CMT (premiering Oct. 29).

Were you excited to be name-checked in a No. 1 hit?

TT Every time I hear it on the radio, it's like, ''Turn it up! This is my verse!''...Gretchen wasn't afraid to say, ''Hell yeah, Tanya influenced me.'' Because there's a lot of people I influenced that would never tell you that, ever.

You're very different in one regard: The typical new artist breaks in at about 22, but Tanya, you made it big at 13, and Gretchen, you broke through at 30.

GW But when I was 13, I was on stage too, singing for the same kind of crowds [in bars], just not as many of them....Tanya was either blessed or cursed — I don't know which she'd say — to have gotten there so young, and she grew up on stage in front of us.

TT Hell, I was pissed I didn't get started earlier. I came to Nashville when I was 9 and said, ''I need to get out there now!''

Women in country music seem to go in waves of glamour queens and roughnecks.

TT There haven't been many roughnecks. Shelby Lynne, but she don't play the game at all...

GW Most of the questions that I got were about how I feel about being a woman in this male-dominated industry. And I thought, you know what, you can go ask Tanya Tucker about that....

TT The more boys, the better!

GW I never felt like I was under anybody. That's not just sexually or in music, that's all my life.

So, Gretchen, do you know the words to every Tanya song?

TT Hey, she's lying out her ass. I asked her to sing me one of my songs the other day, and she didn't know a damn word of it!

Originally posted Oct 29, 2004 Published in issue #790 Oct 29, 2004 Order article reprints
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