Tammy Wynette - 'Til I Can Make it on my Own Originals


Tammy Wynette - 'Til I Can Make it on my Own

Profile of the late country legend, including performances of many of Tammy's greatest songs. Contributors include husbands George Jones and George Richey.


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Transcript


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# Sometimes it's hard to be a woman

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# Giving all your love to just one man... #

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MAN: There were times when she would be overwhelmed by feelings.

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# You'll have bad times... #

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She'd stand there like a statue and you'd know something was happening in the depths of her.

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Sometimes she would back away from the microphone and couldn't continue.

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# I'll need time... #

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This was a person of very deep feeling.

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# ..To get you off my mind... #

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I remember seeing her teetering on a stool with the high heels

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and this totally manufactured, plastic, peroxide image

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poured out of the Barbie mould.

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# ..Asked too much of you from time to time... #

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And then this voice, this amazing voice that came out over the top of it. A mass of contradictions.

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# I don't want to play possum... #

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As a singer she was pretty genius

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and could sing really loud and forcefully and still be vulnerable.

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# Cos when she played house... #

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Tammy never knew she was a star.

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-No, she didn't. She really didn't.

-She never knew she was a star.

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Tammy kept her beautician's licence

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because she had in the back of her mind that his career could end

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and she might have to go back to working on people's hair.

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# Our D-I-V-O-R-C-E... #

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She had the beauty, the talent. She sang like a bird.

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There's nobody greater.

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I just felt kinda sorry for her.

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PARKINSON: You've been married five times. That's extraordinary.

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-I'm a firm believer in marriage.

-You obviously are!

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I wanted her to find happiness.

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If it meant her being married ten times, that was fine.

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# Stand by your man... #

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Stand By Your Man was a reflection of Tammy's background.

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Most everybody's background in that period.

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Maybe that was why it caused such a controversy

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because women were rebelling against that attitude.

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It was such a powerful song.

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# Stand by your man... #

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But it was saying everything that I wanted to smack her in the teeth for.

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# And show the world you love him... #

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She's not the victim. She's singing this as total heroine.

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And it's that contradiction

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that makes that record... one of the best records ever made.

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# Keep giving all the love you can... #

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She literally walked through hell to become Tammy Wynette.

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# Stand by your man. #

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Tammy was born Virginia Wynette Pugh

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on a farm in Mississippi during World War II.

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Her grandfather owned a lot of farmland.

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She was a lot better off than some of her friends

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but I'm sure it was very difficult.

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In the forties and fifties, that was a tough time.

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There's a lot of land here.

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I don't know how many acres, but there's a lot of land here,

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and it was all in cotton and corn.

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She wasn't too proud of it sometimes but she did pick.

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Her father died of a brain tumour when she was nine months old.

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He was 26.

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Tammy's father was a real musician

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and he never had a music lesson in his life, that was natural.

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This was the living room. Tammy bought 'em two chandeliers.

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I wouldn't have thought about them being there now. Kinda shocked me.

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But it's been a long time, hasn't it?

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It makes me want to get in there. But I'm sure this door...

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Oh! Come in.

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I still have his guitar, his mandolin.

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This piano.

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This piano is...where he sat, two weeks before he died,

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he was blind and placed my hands on the keys

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and said, "If she has any talent, see that she has lessons."

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Her father's death had a major role on her as an adult.

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I believe that that's why she... you know, went from the men to men that she did.

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I don't think she ever found the happiness that she wanted.

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She was always looking for that...

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support that she probably, you know, would have gotten from her father

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but never had the opportunity.

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SHE SOBS

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I guess the same old station isn't there any more.

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After her father's death, her mother Mildred went off to Memphis

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to work in a munitions factory.

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Wynette stayed on the farm with her grandparents.

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As her father had wished, her mother paid for piano lessons.

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The man that taught the lessons said, "Hazel, we're wasting her money." And I said, "Why?"

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And he said, "Because I can play her a song one time and she can play it before she leaves me."

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She was just a musician like her daddy.

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GOSPEL SINGING

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# I'll fly away, fly away

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# When I die, hallelujah

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# By and by

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# I'll fly away, fly away. #

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Wynette used to sing in church.

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The Baptist preacher had a radio show and she got to sing on it.

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# To a land where joy will never end

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# I'll fly away, fly away... #

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By the time she was a teenager, her mother had moved back to the farm.

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She was a really rumbustious child.

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I think my grandmother had her hands full.

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# I'll fly away, fly away. #

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My grandmother was a very, very tough woman.

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As we were growing up,

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we were petrified of her, because she was so...

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You know, she could be very...strong.

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I think it was very difficult because they were two strong-willed women. I think they kinda butted heads.

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They really clashed when she got together with Euple Byrd.

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They got into a big fight about her dating Euple, who was an older man.

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He'd been in the army, so that made him seem dangerous.

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Mum got married to get away from my grandmother.

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At 17, Wynette left school to marry

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and had her first child six months later.

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Now she really was poor.

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She lived in a house that was, you know, no running water and no heat.

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She realised, "I might've had it really good where I was,"

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but she was so determined to do what she wanted to do.

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In 1962, she had her second daughter, Jackie.

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When my mum was married to my dad,

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he would just take whatever job he could find. I think he and my mum fought quite a bit.

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Um...we weren't living in the best of conditions.

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To make ends meet, she started training as a beautician.

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In 1963, they moved to Memphis.

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They rented an apartment in a seedy part of town. Wynette got a job as a barmaid.

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She had never even been inside a bar

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because she was raised by people who did not drink at all.

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It was against their religion. The couple who owned this place

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allowed her to sing for the customers,

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which is the first time she'd sung anywhere except in church.

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PIANO INTRO

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# When the sky turns to silver

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# Just before dark

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# And the night comes to haunt me again

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# When gone is the memory

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# Of a sadness like mine

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# Sing me a lonesome song... #

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For the first time, she thought she might make it as a singer.

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Her marriage was dead

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but she was pregnant again. She threatened to divorce.

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It was all too much for her.

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She thought she saw a dead man in the attic.

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She grabbed the children and drove round for hours.

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She had a breakdown, was hospitalised

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and given 12 rounds of shock treatment.

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But she still insisted she wanted a divorce.

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She said, "I've left him."

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I said, "Oh, honey, you've not done that, expecting that baby?"

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"Yes, I have and don't you try to talk me out of it."

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I said, "Have you got any money?" She said, "I don't have any money."

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I gave her 5 and I begged her to let me come get her mother

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and she wouldn't do it. She said, "She'll stop me."

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She made it to Birmingham. The baby she was expecting was premature

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and nearly died.

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All of us was worried to death about Tammy.

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She was up there, a country girl, and didn't know - like me - nothing.

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And... She made it, though!

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She might be lazy in the cotton field

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but otherwise she was industrious.

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Wynette knew what she wanted.

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She didn't really feel like she had a choice.

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It's sort of like a calling...

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or God-given drive to...

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to fulfil your talent.

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And Tammy was an exceptionally talented woman.

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To want a career in the limelight...

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in addition to talent, you have to have a certain need.

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She was poorer than most of the audience, even.

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And that need,

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that want, that...

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yearning...to be somebody

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is something that you have to have burning inside of you to make it.

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She auditioned for a local TV programme.

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I guess it was about 4.30 in the morning. We used to go on the air at five.

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We were in the coffee shop drinking coffee

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and Tammy came in

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and wanted to audition for the show.

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So I said, "Sure."

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I got my guitar and she sang me some songs.

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I said, "My goodness, you'll be welcome to be on from now on." She was terrific.

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This is the aisle that she walked.

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She'd be singing a song as she came down the hall.

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# Your hand is like a torch

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# Each time you touch me... #

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You knew she was a great singer from the first time you heard her.

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Her voice was classic country

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and she sang the greatest songs in the repertoire of country music.

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Jeannie Seely's song "Don't Touch Me", she used to sing

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and it just grabbed you by the throat. It was bone-chilling.

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# ..The door to heaven... #

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It's one of the sexiest voices in the world as well, because...

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it's both strong and it's vulnerable.

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# Oh, don't touch me

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# If you don't love me sweetheart. #

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You could tell people loved her because we'd get 200, 300 letters a day

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saying, "Let that girl sing more."

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# Your kiss is like a drink

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# When I'm thirsty... #

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At seven o'clock, she'd go to work in the beauty shop.

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"I gotta get going," she'd say.

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# ..For you

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# With all my heart... #

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She was living in a little house near the steel industry.

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That something so beautiful could emerge from that house every day

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and show itself to the world was overwhelming.

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The song that she wrote, "Matrimony", it was so heartfelt.

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# You can't tell me how it feels to sit alone most all your life

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# You can't tell me how it feels to be a lost and lonely wife... #

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That line "how it feels to be a lost and lonely wife",

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she had to stop recording and do it again. She couldn't go on.

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I don't think she'd ever said these words aloud.

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It was like they were tearing her apart.

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# You can't tell me how it feels to sit alone most all your life

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# You can't tell me how it feels to be a lost and lonely wife

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# You can't tell me how it makes you feel to know you've done your best

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# That after all the grades are in you finally failed the test

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# You've heard that old, old saying better once than not at all

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# And that everyone should choose their destiny

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# If you head for that thing called matrimony

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# Oh, I hope you'll have much better luck than me. #

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She certainly made love and marriage sound like a battlefield.

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One night, we played in a piano bar.

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People sat around the piano and she sat on a stool beside me

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and...the drunks wanted her to lead them in singing "We All Live In A Yellow Submarine",

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which she hated.

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She did it, but she turned to me and said, "Why do they have to be so close? I'm frightened."

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She was afraid of the public.

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Us girls had talked. We all believe that Mum had depression.

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It just escalated through the years.

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She felt she was doing whatever she had to do to take care of her family

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and then this hit her and it kinda set her back.

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She told me about a lot of her fears as being inside her body

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and maybe she could go to a surgeon and have it cut out.

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And I said, "What's so frightening to you?"

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She just bit her lip and said, "I don't know, David."

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Fearful but forceful, she was on her way.

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On days off from the salon, she'd drive to Nashville and trek round record labels looking for a deal.

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I remember going round to the record companies.

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I remember her being so disappointed.

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She'd say, "I hear what's on the radio and I can do better than that."

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She believed if the right people heard her, they'd instantly want to record her.

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Rejections came thick and fast.

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In those days, if a producer had one girl singer, he didn't want two.

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They were the opening act on the men's shows still.

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Just because you had a good voice or just because you could write,

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that didn't mean Nashville had open arms for you if you were a woman.

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For a woman back then it was more difficult than it was for a man.

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She'd never done anything like that before, so she was kind of raw.

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Seven major labels turned her down.

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Nashville's a tough town. You have to be a bit of a Scarlett O'Hara

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to survive in the Southern hemisphere

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because there still is that Southern mentality about women.

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In 1966, still with no contract,

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she moved to Nashville, with three kids under five in tow.

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She was 23.

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She met an aspiring singer-songwriter called Don Chapel.

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Before long, she would marry him.

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They would come over to the Billboard Hotel to pitch songs.

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And Tammy, bless her heart, she was just like a little wallflower.

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She was kind of homely looking

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and real shy.

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First time I heard her sing, I said, "There's a star."

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If somebody would work with her.

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And...a person did.

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Somebody said that she should go and see Billy Sherrill.

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She knocked on the door and this voice said, "Come on in."

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She said she wanted him to hear her voice.

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# You can't tell me how it feels to be alone most every night

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# You can't tell me how it feels... #

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When it was over, he said, "That's a pretty good song but that's not what I'm looking for.

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"If you could find me the right kind of song, I'll record you."

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Two weeks later, she called him.

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He said, "Come on in, I think I've just found something."

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# Just follow the stairway

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# To this lonely world of mine

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# You'll find me waitin' here

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# In apartment number nine... #

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My first memory of Tammy was on an early morning TV show

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here in Nashville.

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And she had just left beauty school and I was a cosmetologist as well,

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so we had that in common.

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She had this fake ponytail like Dolly had

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and I thought, "That's a pretty woman."

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She was singing that first hit of hers "Apartment Number Nine".

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And I thought, "Wow! She's real different."

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# Not so very long ago

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# You walked away from me

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# And after all the plans we made

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# You decided to be free... #

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She just looked so serious

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and like she understood every word of that song.

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# Loneliness surrounds me

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# Without your arms around me... #

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I'd trawl on the radio

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and when they started playing I got bored.

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Her voice stood out. It was different.

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She didn't sound like all the other girls.

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# Now the sun will never shine

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# In apartment number nine. #

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I love to sing "Apartment Number Nine". It's my favourite Tammy tune.

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The lyrics of the song are...

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are so...

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..stark.

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From the beginning of it, it's just follow the stairway, like, "OK...

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"I'm there, I'm totally there."

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When the record was over they said it was by somebody named Tammy Wynette.

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And right then I said to myself, "I know what's happened.

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"She's gone to Nashville and said, 'My name's Wynette Byrd'

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"and they've said, 'Wynette's not a first name, is it?' "

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They had all these Tammy movies that were out,

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so they named her Tammy. "You've got to have your hair tied back and a cute little bow on it."

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In the space of a few months, Wynette Byrd had become Tammy Wynette.

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Billy Sherrill said his first impression was of a pale, skinny little blonde girl

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who looked like she was at her rope's end.

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He took her looks, voice and concerns and shaped them into marketable hits.

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I suspect that Wynette sometimes wondered who this Tammy Wynette person was.

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The special guest, Miss Tammy Wynette

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and a tune entitled "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad".

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# If ya like 'em painted up powdered up

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# Then you ought to be glad

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# Cos your good girl's a-gonna go bad... #

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In '67, Tammy topped the country charts.

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# I'll even learn to like the taste of whisky

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# In fact you'll hardly recognise your wife... #

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This was standard honky-tonk country fare.

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# ..And dress up fancy

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# For my journey to the wilder side of life. #

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Billy Sherrill was still an author in search of a character.

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Tammy, you've been here in Nashville just a few short months

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and already have a couple of hit records to your credit.

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What makes you want to be an entertainer?

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I think the travel is the main thing. I love it.

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I love the shows and meeting the different entertainers.

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-You love to get out on the road and see part of the country.

-Yes.

0:23:040:23:08

-And you do see a lot of it, don't you?

-Sure do.

0:23:080:23:11

Some weeks you're probably in four or five different states.

0:23:110:23:15

Since September I've been in 33 states...

0:23:150:23:18

I certainly missed her. And I'm sure my sisters did too.

0:23:180:23:22

Who doesn't want their mum around? We didn't have a dad.

0:23:220:23:26

It was hard but, just like my friends parents' had jobs,

0:23:260:23:30

this was my mum's job and it took her away from us.

0:23:300:23:33

Let's do "Don't Come Home A-drinking With Lovin' On Your Mind".

0:23:330:23:37

She now met the country superstar who'd been her hero back in the cotton fields.

0:23:370:23:42

Georgie, boy!

0:23:420:23:43

# I feel tears welling up Cold and deep inside

0:23:430:23:47

# Like my heart's sprung a big break

0:23:470:23:49

# And the stab of loneliness sharp and painful

0:23:490:23:52

# That I may never shake

0:23:520:23:55

# You might say I was taking it hard

0:23:550:23:57

# Oh, she wrote me off with a call... #

0:23:570:24:00

Tammy had a hit record out at the time,

0:24:000:24:03

a duet with the late David Houston

0:24:030:24:05

called "My Elusive Dreams".

0:24:050:24:07

She was doing a show and David Houston and she had a spat.

0:24:070:24:11

He wouldn't sing the duet with her and Jones walked out...

0:24:110:24:15

My dad, out of the blue, invited her

0:24:150:24:17

to come on stage to sing the duet.

0:24:170:24:20

# I followed you to Texas

0:24:200:24:24

# I followed you to Utah... #

0:24:240:24:29

She idolised him as a singer

0:24:290:24:31

and he symbolised the kind of star that she wanted to be.

0:24:310:24:36

Afterwards she thanked him and he talked to her

0:24:360:24:39

and wanted to do some more singing with her.

0:24:390:24:42

After a while, they did a lot more singing and recording together.

0:24:420:24:45

# Step by step

0:24:450:24:47

# We walked the road together... #

0:24:470:24:52

AUDIENCE APPLAUDS

0:24:520:24:55

# Hand in hand

0:24:550:24:57

# Love grew more every day

0:24:570:25:01

# When trouble came

0:25:040:25:06

# We held onto each other... #

0:25:060:25:10

She had a lot of feeling, a lot of heart and a lot of soul.

0:25:100:25:14

That was the kind of stuff I'd known.

0:25:140:25:17

Once we started singing together,

0:25:170:25:20

you know, it was... it was just magic.

0:25:200:25:24

In 1967, Tammy had four number-one country hits.

0:25:240:25:28

She was part of a long tradition.

0:25:280:25:30

Country music is the music of the common man.

0:25:300:25:33

It's very similar to the blues in America,

0:25:330:25:35

the white man's version of singing about their troubles.

0:25:350:25:39

That's what country music was.

0:25:390:25:41

# Today I sat alone at the window... #

0:25:450:25:51

But Tammy's wasn't so much country music as suburban music.

0:25:510:25:56

# ..And I watched our little girl outside at play... #

0:25:560:25:59

Not so much for the common man as the common woman.

0:25:590:26:03

# ..With the little boy next door

0:26:030:26:08

# Like so many times before

0:26:080:26:13

# But something didn't seem quite right today... #

0:26:130:26:19

She and Billy Sherrill had found her distinctive voice.

0:26:190:26:23

# So I went outside To see what they were doing... #

0:26:230:26:28

When Tammy Wynette sings about her daughter,

0:26:280:26:32

"I don't want to play house, it made my mummy cry"

0:26:320:26:35

you could think, "That's gross. Why are you pulling our heart strings like that?"

0:26:350:26:40

But that happened to Tammy Wynette. She probably heard her child say, "I don't want to be like you."

0:26:400:26:45

# I don't want to play house

0:26:450:26:47

# I know it can't be fun

0:26:470:26:51

# I've watched Mummy and Daddy

0:26:540:26:58

# And if that's the way it's done

0:26:580:27:02

# I don't want to play house

0:27:020:27:05

# It makes my mummy cry... #

0:27:060:27:09

It's an enormous thing to let millions know that your daughter doesn't want to be like you.

0:27:090:27:14

# Cos when she played house My daddy said goodbye. #

0:27:140:27:25

The songs portray a degree of desperation and anguish

0:27:250:27:30

about the situation she finds herself in.

0:27:300:27:34

There was an acceptance of a woman's lot

0:27:340:27:38

and an acceptance of the pain that went with it.

0:27:380:27:41

It's a complete denial of any alternative.

0:27:430:27:47

She is going through all the crap that life throws at you.

0:27:470:27:51

Having the kids when you're too young,

0:27:510:27:54

having bad men that you've fallen in love with for all the wrong reasons.

0:27:540:27:58

She's gone to hell and back with men.

0:27:590:28:01

The best single record of the year,

0:28:030:28:05

a big hit record by our next guest - D-I-V-O-R-C-E by Tammy Wynette.

0:28:050:28:09

There's certain people for me who're way beyond what you'd call entertainment.

0:28:110:28:16

I can't listen to it at times.

0:28:160:28:18

I have to turn it off, because it goes way beyond.

0:28:180:28:20

It was so dark and it was so moving.

0:28:210:28:24

# Our little boy is four years old

0:28:240:28:29

# And quite a little man

0:28:290:28:34

# So we spell out the words we don't want him to understand

0:28:340:28:43

# Like T-O-Y

0:28:430:28:45

# Or maybe S-U-R-P-R-I-S-E

0:28:450:28:52

# But the words we're hiding from him now

0:28:520:28:57

# Tear the heart right out of me

0:28:570:29:03

# Our D-I-V-O-R-C-E becomes final today... #

0:29:030:29:11

People listen to those songs thinking, "This is me, this is what I'm going through. This is my life."

0:29:110:29:17

I think the people that bought her albums, they thought, "She's talking to me."

0:29:170:29:23

Tammy Wynette, I think, is a tremendous vocalist.

0:29:230:29:27

Really strange vocal style.

0:29:270:29:30

I like the little catch in her voice.

0:29:300:29:32

That sort of little sob in her voice.

0:29:320:29:35

-That little teardrop. >

-The teardrop was natural,

0:29:350:29:39

cos she could not make it do it.

0:29:390:29:42

"Make it, do it." "I can't do it, it just happens."

0:29:420:29:46

Some people might find Tammy's, it's too...

0:29:470:29:51

..over-dramatic, over-stated, her voice.

0:29:530:29:56

Whereas other country singers have got a clearer...cleaner voice

0:29:560:30:01

and they don't show all the pain.

0:30:010:30:04

Tammy lets more of the pain come through.

0:30:040:30:07

To me, there's something really beautiful about that sound.

0:30:070:30:12

Sherrill was the epitome of this...

0:30:120:30:14

There's this still quite controlled backing

0:30:140:30:18

with this very emotional singer in the foreground,

0:30:180:30:21

and with all their quirks and peculiarities on display,

0:30:210:30:25

like Tammy Wynette with this strange enunciation.

0:30:250:30:28

It had a huge power to communicate.

0:30:280:30:31

And it's that period of time when country music was in charge for a short while.

0:30:310:30:36

Next came the real big hitter.

0:30:360:30:38

I worked on "Divorce" "D-I-V-O-R-C-E".

0:30:380:30:42

Did I spell that right?

0:30:420:30:43

I also worked on "Stand By Your Man".

0:30:430:30:47

That was a great session. I was playing the bass and Jerry Kennedy was playing the electric guitar.

0:30:470:30:53

# Sometimes it's hard to be a woman

0:30:530:31:00

# Giving all your love to just one man... #

0:31:020:31:06

I had a great feeling about that record when we did it because she sang with so much soul.

0:31:060:31:11

# And if you love him... #

0:31:110:31:15

When she hits that C sharp, it's pretty thrilling.

0:31:150:31:19

She sails up and hits that note.

0:31:190:31:21

It's an emotion that she feels.

0:31:210:31:24

And she conveyed the emotion.

0:31:240:31:26

# Stand by your man

0:31:280:31:31

# And show the world you love him

0:31:330:31:38

# Keep giving all the love you can

0:31:380:31:46

# Stand by your man. #

0:31:460:31:56

But it was 1968 and feminists weren't concerned about her high C sharp.

0:31:560:32:02

Tammy became the centre of a controversy.

0:32:020:32:06

People gave her a really hard time.

0:32:060:32:08

They assumed that by saying "stand by your man"

0:32:080:32:11

that she was saying that you should take whatever you have to take

0:32:110:32:16

and stick with a man no matter what.

0:32:160:32:18

Anybody who knows my mum knows that she didn't mean that.

0:32:180:32:22

At the time, I did see it as very much a counter-revolutionary thing,

0:32:220:32:26

as straight, anti-feminist propaganda,

0:32:260:32:29

this defence of the male perspective, as we saw it, on women.

0:32:290:32:34

And it seemed such an act of betrayal,

0:32:340:32:36

hearing "Stand By Your Man" and people singing it on the street

0:32:360:32:40

was almost more than one could bear at that time.

0:32:400:32:44

There is no more victim lyrics in the world, I don't think.

0:32:440:32:49

But when you hear her sing it, she transcends it.

0:32:490:32:52

It's up there with "I Will Survive". Differently, obviously.

0:32:520:32:56

"I Will Survive" is for when you're at the disco and you've been chucked by your bloke.

0:32:560:33:01

Whereas Tammy Wynette is when you're at the kitchen sink and you've got to get the kids to school.

0:33:010:33:06

It works in a different way but it's just as strong.

0:33:060:33:10

"Stand By Your Man" is a rallying cry for men all over the country.

0:33:100:33:14

-How did you write it?

-Well, we had a session that day at two o'clock

0:33:140:33:19

and we had two songs that we'd decided on doing.

0:33:190:33:23

And Billy Sherrill, my producer, had the first two lines of this song written.

0:33:230:33:27

So we did the first two songs and he gave the musicians a 15-minute break.

0:33:270:33:33

We finished the song, came back and recorded it.

0:33:330:33:36

-"Stand By Your Man"?

-Yes.

-In that length of time?

0:33:360:33:40

-No more than 20 minutes.

-How does that make you feel, Songwriter?

0:33:400:33:44

-It takes me that long to tie my shoes.

-LAUGHTER

0:33:440:33:47

# ..To understand...

0:33:470:33:50

# And if you love him... #

0:33:530:33:55

Every country woman knows what that's like

0:33:550:33:58

to try to stand by her husband no matter whether he's in the right or in the wrong.

0:33:580:34:04

They were anthems for women of the time.

0:34:040:34:06

Would you stand with me?

0:34:060:34:08

# Stand by your man... #

0:34:080:34:10

A lot of people are critical of that attitude today.

0:34:100:34:13

But that was the culture we grew up in. And that was what we were about.

0:34:130:34:19

# ..When nights are cold and lonely... #

0:34:190:34:23

I couldn't help but hear the irony in that song,

0:34:230:34:26

of this woman who's been knocked around by men.

0:34:260:34:29

She sang that song with great feeling

0:34:290:34:32

but I think she felt it when she sang it.

0:34:320:34:35

Later in her career she would say, "After all, he's just a man."

0:34:350:34:40

It's the ultimate put-down really.

0:34:410:34:43

It's like, "He's like a puppy dog. You can't expect much. He's as thick as two short planks."

0:34:430:34:49

"After all, he's just a man."

0:34:490:34:51

Every time I hear that, I go...

0:34:520:34:55

..yeah...there's some...

0:34:560:34:58

I'm not... I don't necessarily believe that

0:34:580:35:02

but sometimes I have thought that.

0:35:020:35:04

"Well, he can't help it. He's got that thing."

0:35:040:35:07

It's stretching it too far to try and see those lyrics as saying that, particularly in that time.

0:35:110:35:17

# Stand by your man... #

0:35:170:35:20

I still say "Stand By Your Man" is not a conservative song.

0:35:200:35:23

It's about nurturing one another.

0:35:230:35:26

# Stand by your man. #

0:35:260:35:31

There were doormat songs. She had one song called "Don't Liberate Me, Love Me".

0:35:350:35:39

# Don't liberate me

0:35:390:35:44

# Just love me... #

0:35:440:35:47

"Singing My Song" is a very doormat song.

0:35:470:35:49

"I don't know what I do that's right but it makes him come home at night".

0:35:490:35:53

# I don't know what I do that's right

0:35:530:35:58

# But it makes him come home at night

0:35:580:36:02

# And when he's home

0:36:020:36:05

# I make sure he's never alone

0:36:050:36:09

# And that's why I keep singing my song. #

0:36:090:36:16

Tammy was still standing by husband number two, Don Chapel, but not for long.

0:36:160:36:21

They invited my dad over

0:36:210:36:22

to eat dinner one night.

0:36:220:36:24

And while eating there, Don was very angry...

0:36:240:36:28

and violent towards my mother

0:36:280:36:30

and was cussing at her and saying horrible things to her.

0:36:300:36:34

And it made my dad angry. And he stood up and knocked the dinner table over onto Don

0:36:340:36:40

and said that he wasn't gonna speak to her like that

0:36:400:36:44

and that he was in love with her and thought she was in love with him too.

0:36:440:36:48

And she said, "Yes, I am." So they left.

0:36:480:36:50

-You told me you had a surprise for us.

-Yes.

0:36:500:36:55

-She's the brand-new wife of mine.

-I know who you're talking about.

0:36:550:36:58

-Yes.

-The little lady that the CMA voted the number one girl singer of the year.

0:36:580:37:04

You're talking about Tammy Wynette.

0:37:040:37:07

-Right.

-Is she here?

-She's here.

-Put her to work.

-Here we go.

0:37:070:37:11

# Well, I'm gonna get on the old turnpike and I'm gonna ride

0:37:140:37:19

# I'm gonna leave this town till you decide

0:37:190:37:24

# Which one you want the most Them Opry stars or me

0:37:240:37:28

# Milwaukee, here I come From Nashville, Tennessee... #

0:37:280:37:32

Now they really were the first couple of country.

0:37:320:37:36

For her, meeting George Jones, it was just the best and the worst thing in her life.

0:37:360:37:42

They really struggled to make it work.

0:37:420:37:46

# We're gonna hold on... #

0:37:480:37:53

But I do know that she was crazy about him. I mean, she just adored him and he did her.

0:37:530:37:59

The writers who wrote for her,

0:37:590:38:01

and there were about...four of us who wrote regularly,

0:38:010:38:06

would sort of write... what was happening that day.

0:38:060:38:10

And if she and Jones were having a tough time, that's what we wrote about.

0:38:100:38:15

# Life can be rough

0:38:150:38:17

# Sometimes it's... #

0:38:180:38:20

Well, he had his alcohol problem and drug addiction.

0:38:200:38:24

And then, I think, during that time, in the early seventies,

0:38:240:38:27

that was when Mum was just beginning to start her drug addiction.

0:38:270:38:31

George and Tammy had one child together, Georgette.

0:38:330:38:37

Mum's medical problems started after she had a hysterectomy when Georgette was born.

0:38:370:38:44

She was given medication.

0:38:440:38:47

She felt, "I have a prescription for it, so it's OK."

0:38:470:38:51

Because they'd had Georgette, she was so determined to see that work.

0:38:530:38:58

I don't think there was ever any way that it could because of the issues they had.

0:39:010:39:05

There were so many strains on that relationship.

0:39:100:39:13

She had grown up hard

0:39:130:39:15

and didn't want to return to the life from which she came.

0:39:150:39:19

Someone very driven.

0:39:190:39:21

Then you've got George Jones who hit the bottle...

0:39:210:39:25

so hard routinely.

0:39:250:39:28

He couldn't be contained. He couldn't be controlled.

0:39:280:39:32

He was an absolute wild man.

0:39:320:39:34

She wouldn't let him take the car into town cos she knew he'd get in a lot of trouble.

0:39:350:39:40

So he took the keys to the riding lawn mower and rode that into town

0:39:400:39:44

and messed himself up anyway.

0:39:440:39:46

Her and George Jones lived three houses from me on the lake.

0:39:480:39:52

We used to, you know, see each other.

0:39:530:39:56

George would sneak down there and I'd hide a bottle outside the door.

0:39:560:40:01

And he hid it.

0:40:010:40:03

This, I was very angry when I wrote.

0:40:030:40:06

# They said you were a loser when I met you

0:40:080:40:12

# Never stayed with anyone for very long

0:40:130:40:17

# They said I'd never hold you and I guess they knew

0:40:180:40:23

# There'd be something else beside you off and on

0:40:230:40:28

# "I love" you from a four-year-old was such a gift

0:40:290:40:33

# Two little arms around your neck so tight

0:40:330:40:38

# But a four-ounce glass of whisky gave a better lift

0:40:390:40:43

# And a bottle by your pillow made your night

0:40:440:40:48

# I thought that I could make a better man of you

0:40:490:40:54

# But changes don't just happen overnight

0:40:540:40:58

# You asked of us so many things we couldn't do

0:40:590:41:04

# And you just never let that bottle out of sight

0:41:040:41:09

# There's nothing on earth we can do to make you stay

0:41:100:41:15

# But I know every time you touch the bottle

0:41:150:41:19

# You'll hear her voice and see my face every single time

0:41:200:41:26

# Every time you open up that bottle

0:41:260:41:30

# Every time you open up the bottle

0:41:310:41:35

# The bottle. #

0:41:350:41:42

I don't think he ever wanted us to see that side of him

0:41:430:41:47

and I know Mum sheltered us from it.

0:41:470:41:50

But there were occasions when we did.

0:41:500:41:52

He was very volatile.

0:41:520:41:54

And she would not back down.

0:41:540:41:58

So she...

0:41:580:41:59

She would...you know, take it

0:41:590:42:02

and she would give him his money's worth too, so...

0:42:020:42:06

It was very violent.

0:42:060:42:08

# And if you think you've got it made

0:42:100:42:13

# And his love will never fade

0:42:130:42:16

# You'd better listen... #

0:42:170:42:19

Yet Tammy was still giving advice to other women about how to hang on to their husbands.

0:42:190:42:24

# She's out there too

0:42:240:42:27

# And she's a whole lot better-looking than me and you

0:42:280:42:33

# She can do things to a man

0:42:350:42:39

# You never dreamed a woman can do

0:42:390:42:44

# I'm talking

0:42:470:42:49

# Woman to woman... #

0:42:490:42:54

She saw it as if you didn't make it as a wife and mother you were a failure.

0:42:540:43:00

It was a question of survival rather than politics. But I didn't realise that at the time.

0:43:000:43:04

After seven years of standing by George, it was over.

0:43:050:43:10

I was there at the break-up. It was the first time she'd ever gone on the road without George.

0:43:100:43:17

And she said, "I'm scared to go on the road without him."

0:43:170:43:21

And we're like, "You're kidding!"

0:43:210:43:24

She said, "Who'll come to see me?

0:43:240:43:27

"Who'll know who I am?"

0:43:270:43:29

Soon after the break-up, she nearly died from a drug overdose.

0:43:310:43:35

She said she didn't mean to kill herself, just to sleep.

0:43:350:43:39

I really needed this song to help me through some troubled times.

0:43:390:43:43

AUDIENCE APPLAUDS

0:43:430:43:46

# Now and then

0:43:480:43:53

# Lord, you know I'm gonna need a friend

0:43:530:43:58

# Till I get used to losing you

0:43:580:44:02

# Let me keep on using you

0:44:020:44:06

# Till I can make it on my own... #

0:44:060:44:11

This song, Tammy co-wrote with Billy Sherrill and the other George, the George in waiting.

0:44:110:44:16

For a long time I had been in love with Tammy.

0:44:160:44:19

But I was too afraid it would destroy our friendship.

0:44:210:44:26

# But till then I'll lean on you

0:44:260:44:30

# That's all I mean to do

0:44:300:44:33

# Till I can make it on my own

0:44:330:44:39

# Surely someday I'll wake up and see the morning sun

0:44:400:44:46

# Without another lonely night behind me... #

0:44:460:44:51

She started dating Burt Reynolds,

0:44:510:44:54

then the biggest film star in the USA.

0:44:540:44:57

And I'm here with a very special lady,

0:44:570:45:00

who is so shy that...I may do the entire interview myself.

0:45:000:45:05

Why, she hasn't had a hit in over...six minutes.

0:45:050:45:09

-What is the last big hit that you've had?

-"Let's Get Together".

0:45:090:45:13

"Let's Get Together" was her last big hit.

0:45:130:45:17

AUDIENCE LAUGHS

0:45:170:45:19

-And how many did it sell?

-I don't know.

-She doesn't know.

0:45:190:45:23

LAUGHTER

0:45:230:45:26

Well, you don't have to be quick to be a country star,

0:45:260:45:30

you just have to be...

0:45:300:45:32

I remember him coming in and thinking, "Wow! This is a real star."

0:45:320:45:36

I guess I never associated Mum with being a celebrity and Burt was a real celebrity.

0:45:360:45:42

What are you gonna sing?

0:45:420:45:44

A song, if I might say, that was written especially for you

0:45:440:45:49

that you know. It's a song called "You And Me".

0:45:490:45:53

She was happy. She was doing things she wanted to do.

0:45:530:45:57

And she seemed to just come alive.

0:45:570:46:00

We're gonna hear "You And Me".

0:46:000:46:02

# I can feel his heart is beating softly

0:46:050:46:12

# He just loved me so tenderly

0:46:160:46:23

# But it should be you and me... #

0:46:230:46:32

They didn't get married, I think...

0:46:330:46:36

Not that Mum didn't want to.

0:46:360:46:39

She probably would have loved to.

0:46:390:46:41

It wasn't to be.

0:46:410:46:44

She married a local businessman instead.

0:46:440:46:47

I think she knew it wasn't going to work out and married him anyway.

0:46:470:46:51

And realised that was a mistake soon afterwards.

0:46:510:46:56

# Kids

0:46:560:46:57

# Say the darnedest things... #

0:46:570:47:01

They split up after 44 days.

0:47:010:47:04

I was seven years old when it happened.

0:47:040:47:08

It was difficult.

0:47:080:47:10

That was the thing that she was most embarrassed about in her life...

0:47:140:47:19

the number of times she had been married.

0:47:190:47:22

Because her belief was you get married ONE time

0:47:220:47:24

and you stay married and you die married to the same person.

0:47:240:47:28

So she did it again.

0:47:280:47:30

She married him. And this time it was to be until death.

0:47:300:47:33

The songwriter became her husband and manager.

0:47:330:47:37

Tammy and I had a long relationship, a wonderful relationship.

0:47:370:47:41

We were married 20 years.

0:47:410:47:42

And for the most part, the majority were great years.

0:47:440:47:48

The quest was over.

0:47:510:47:53

AUDIENCE APPLAUDS

0:47:530:47:55

# I can hear the rain

0:48:030:48:06

# It's falling softly

0:48:060:48:10

# As I watch him lying next to me... #

0:48:150:48:22

Just two years before,

0:48:220:48:24

she'd told Burt Reynolds this song was written for him.

0:48:240:48:27

Her final marriage would split her family and friends.

0:48:270:48:31

She thought it was going to turn out to be something totally different to what it did.

0:48:310:48:37

But by then she felt, "I can't divorce again

0:48:370:48:41

"because of my fans. They'll look at me this way."

0:48:410:48:44

# ..So tenderly... #

0:48:440:48:46

It just wasn't going to happen.

0:48:460:48:49

# It should be you and me... #

0:48:490:48:55

She picked them wrong. And that was her downfall.

0:48:550:48:58

And anybody who knows her life, knows that.

0:48:580:49:02

That's not a great big secret.

0:49:020:49:04

After she picked George Richey, she never had a chance to pick anything else.

0:49:080:49:12

He gained control and he kept control.

0:49:120:49:15

# No, he can't see

0:49:150:49:18

# It should be you and me... #

0:49:180:49:25

'Tammy was one who dared not be alone.

0:49:250:49:29

'In most instances, her relationships were dependent on HER.'

0:49:290:49:34

I think she was used, er...

0:49:360:49:40

by every relationship she was involved in.

0:49:400:49:45

She knew nothing but work and music,

0:49:510:49:54

the cotton fields and music.

0:49:540:49:57

She didn't know about the world.

0:49:570:50:01

I can remember when she would play towns

0:50:010:50:05

She'd feign an injury so that she'd go to an emergency room

0:50:050:50:08

and be given painkillers to get high.

0:50:090:50:12

When her reputation for doing so became widespread,

0:50:120:50:15

she'd stop faking an injury.

0:50:150:50:16

She would walk off a stage.

0:50:160:50:20

# I'm wearing my jeans a little bit tighter... #

0:50:230:50:26

Tammy was now a country legend, singing her repertoire of golden oldies

0:50:260:50:31

and still cutting country albums that pleased her loyal audience.

0:50:310:50:36

As the years rolled by, she became an institution.

0:50:360:50:40

Then, out of the blue, something surprising shot her back to the top of the pops.

0:50:400:50:47

# Hey, hey... #

0:50:490:50:51

For Tammy, it was like 1968 all over again.

0:50:510:50:56

# They're justified and they're ancient... #

0:50:560:50:59

Just like Billy Sherrill, the KLF could make her seem real,

0:50:590:51:03

while all around was artifice.

0:51:030:51:05

Jimmy said, "What we need on this is Tammy Wynette" -

0:51:050:51:08

a ludicrous idea, sitting in this South London studio -

0:51:080:51:12

but suddenly I could hear her voice, I could hear it in my head,

0:51:120:51:16

and I'm thinking, "He's right,"

0:51:160:51:18

and within three calls I was talking to Tammy Wynette and she said, "Yes, I'll do it."

0:51:180:51:23

Met at the airport by her husband,

0:51:260:51:27

who took me in his powder-blue Jag to First Lady Acres

0:51:270:51:31

and the first thing I hear - "Is that you, Bill?"

0:51:310:51:35

I fall instantly in love with her.

0:51:350:51:38

And we get to the studio,

0:51:390:51:41

and she's got the headphones on

0:51:410:51:43

and she can't do it.

0:51:430:51:45

She cannot sing in time to the track.

0:51:450:51:47

It's absolutely awful and I'm thinking, "This is a disaster."

0:51:470:51:51

So what happens is, George Richey conducts her through the whole thing,

0:51:510:51:55

and that worked, well, sort of worked.

0:51:550:51:58

Actually it didn't work at all.

0:51:580:52:00

When I got back to Britain,

0:52:020:52:04

and I said, "Look, I'm sorry. I've completely failed.

0:52:040:52:07

"The whole thing is a disaster."

0:52:070:52:10

But the engineer we worked with had got this new gear in

0:52:100:52:13

and within a couple of hours it was sounding fantastic.

0:52:130:52:17

# They called me up in Tennessee

0:52:170:52:20

# They said, "Tammy, stand by The Jams"

0:52:200:52:25

# But if you don't like what they're going to do

0:52:250:52:29

# You'd better not stop them cos they're coming through

0:52:290:52:34

# Hey, hey!

0:52:360:52:38

# All bound for Mu Mu Land... #

0:52:380:52:43

She's used to singing about heartbreak.

0:52:430:52:46

The woman's situation in white middle America,

0:52:460:52:49

and suddenly she's got these lyrics, but she didn't bat an eyelid.

0:52:490:52:53

# They're justified and they're ancient

0:52:530:52:57

# And they drive an ice-cream van... #

0:52:570:53:00

She did sing it like she meant it.

0:53:000:53:02

Our grandchildren thought she was the king and queen of all the acts.

0:53:020:53:06

She loved it. It was a great experience.

0:53:060:53:09

# ..ancient... #

0:53:090:53:11

It was No.1 in 22 countries.

0:53:110:53:14

We flew her over to this country to make the video

0:53:140:53:18

and we knew she wasn't a well woman, but she worked and worked and worked.

0:53:180:53:23

# All bound for Mu Mu Land... #

0:53:230:53:26

And you could see she was completely, you know, broken,

0:53:260:53:30

but she'd go back out there and she'd turn it on all over again.

0:53:300:53:34

By 1991, Tammy had had 17 major operations on her stomach.

0:53:410:53:46

She was still touring non-stop.

0:53:460:53:49

She was just a very, very sick woman.

0:53:490:53:51

Consequently she was the strongest woman I've ever known.

0:53:510:53:55

Sometimes we'd be on the bus and we'd be hooked up to breathing machines

0:53:550:53:59

and intravenous machines and oxygen and this and that,

0:53:590:54:03

and unplug herself and go out and sing.

0:54:030:54:06

I came to believe that the thing that kept Tammy alive WAS performing.

0:54:060:54:13

Tammy and George Jones had been estranged for years.

0:54:130:54:18

Tammy became very, very, very sick and was in the hospital

0:54:210:54:26

and I was called at three in the morning to come and be prepared

0:54:260:54:29

to write the obituary that she would not live through the night.

0:54:290:54:33

George went to the hospital to see Tammy and of course she was unconscious.

0:54:330:54:38

When Tammy did wake up from the coma, she said that she dreamed that she saw George there.

0:54:400:54:46

"He said, 'I want you to get better. I want to make another record with you.' "

0:54:460:54:51

That was the most nerve-racking thing that you can imagine.

0:54:510:54:55

-# Golden ring...

-Golden ring

0:54:570:54:59

# With one tiny stone

0:54:590:55:02

-# Cast aside...

-Waiting there

0:55:020:55:05

# For someone to take it home

0:55:050:55:07

-# By itself...

-By itself

0:55:070:55:11

# It's just a cold, metallic thing

0:55:110:55:13

# Only love can make a golden wedding ring. #

0:55:130:55:17

It was just an unbelievably emotional thing.

0:55:180:55:22

The last tour to England,

0:55:220:55:23

I remember calling everybody in the family, all the daughters,

0:55:230:55:27

Richey, her husband, and begging and crying for them not to let Tammy go on the tour.

0:55:270:55:31

I was convinced that she would come back in a coffin.

0:55:310:55:34

My husband and I were flying over to England

0:55:340:55:38

and I got on the plane and I was walking through first-class with my cases

0:55:380:55:41

and I looked over and I saw this woman,

0:55:410:55:44

this very, very fragile, little, old woman,

0:55:440:55:47

and then I went, "Oh, my God!" I realised that was Tammy.

0:55:470:55:51

We brought her in for a BBC show in Birmingham.

0:55:510:55:54

They had to literally carry her on stage.

0:55:540:55:57

She was very, very ill.

0:55:570:55:59

She was so fragile and that was the last time I ever saw her alive.

0:55:590:56:04

# Precious memories... #

0:56:090:56:13

Tammy was just 55 when she died in 1998.

0:56:130:56:17

George Richey and her daughters fell out over the estate,

0:56:170:56:21

control over which went to him,

0:56:210:56:23

and over the circumstances of her death.

0:56:230:56:26

We asked for the body to be exhumed because we had hired a private detective

0:56:260:56:30

and gotten some information on some medication.

0:56:300:56:33

We always felt like THAT had something to do with her death,

0:56:330:56:37

but it was never really...proven.

0:56:370:56:41

# Stand by your man

0:56:430:56:46

# And show the world you love him

0:56:480:56:52

# Keep giving all the love you ca-a-an

0:56:520:57:02

# Stand by your ma-a-an. #

0:57:020:57:10

Tammy was of the generation where she was strong, she was powerful,

0:57:110:57:16

she could run her career, but she always seemed to be getting involved with men,

0:57:160:57:20

letting them run things for her,

0:57:200:57:22

and I think to some degree that was her downfall.

0:57:220:57:27

Maybe she was telling herself, there is someone out there

0:57:270:57:32

that's perfect and right for her,

0:57:320:57:34

even though she wasn't having the greatest time trying to find that person, she didn't want to give up.

0:57:340:57:40

I don't think things turned out maybe quite exactly how she had planned...

0:57:400:57:46

..but I do think she did finally find some peace.

0:57:490:57:51

She really paved the way for women writers and, um...

0:57:540:57:58

you know, she had such a great sense of style and carried herself so well,

0:57:580:58:02

that I have always, you know, looked to her for guidance in a way

0:58:020:58:09

for how to be a real loud country star.

0:58:090:58:12

For her, country music was about being real.

0:58:130:58:16

You have to do a lot of things to be real in country music.

0:58:160:58:21

You have to change your name and let people give you a different hairstyle

0:58:210:58:25

and create this phoney image that you have to carry around on your shoulders

0:58:250:58:29

like a boulder the rest of your life, just for the chance to be real.

0:58:290:58:33

It's a mystery to me.

0:58:340:58:36

# When the sky turns to silver

0:58:380:58:42

# Just before dark

0:58:420:58:46

# And the night comes to haunt me again

0:58:460:58:52

# When gone is the memory

0:58:520:58:56

# Of a sadness like mine

0:58:560:59:00

# Sing me a lonesome song. #

0:59:000:59:06

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd.

0:59:060:59:08

Profile of the late country legend, including performances of many of Tammy's greatest songs. Contributors include husbands George Jones and George Richey, Elvis Costello, Allison Moorer, Bill Drummond of the KLF and actress Anna Chancellor.


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