It’s fair time in South Dakota, bringing entertainment for all with singers like Emily Osment and Josh Turner gracing the smallish town of Mitchell. Country Man and I saw him a few years ago, back in our dating days. To say it was a test of my love for him is an understatement, as Turner is as handsome as he is a good singer.
Weeks before the Corn Palace Festival began, my husband called to say Loretta Lynn was coming and why don’t I grab us a few tickets?
So I did, and gladly paid the $35 per ticket to see a country legend in action. It wasn’t but a few days later that Country Man called again, saying Loretta Lynn has come down with something, and a new act would replace her.
If you haven’t guessed by the title of this post, the replacement act was Tanya Tucker.
Now, now I was completely stoked.
Growing up, I listened to some country here and there but most of it was Dave Mathews and the like. I connected with Tanya Tucker’s music right away. And Dolly, of course.
The day of her concert was a hot one, and the fair commencement was pushed back because the carnival workers would have dropped like flies in the heat.
We walked into a store along the street, buying Country Man some new Wranglers (he goes through a pair like nobody’s business). We headed toward the Corn Palace to take our seats. As I looked around, I noticed we were one of the few “young” couples among the crowd. Elderly couples migrated from all around, the men in their button up shirts and hair slicked over, their wives with red lipstick and sparkly belts. They were looking good.
My husband ran his new jeans back to the pickup, and on his return passed a slow moving veteran. The man laughed to him, saying I can’t move as fast you do anymore! He proceeded to talk to my husband, calling Loretta Lynn a sellout and that Tanya Tucker’s the real talent. But you wanna know who the real hero is, he asked? Joe Foss. Now that man is a hero.
We took our seats and waited, eating walking tacos and watching the stadium fill. My husband sat next to a man with silver hair, and after looking around saw most of the hair was silver. But it was the ones with silver hair who were dancing freely to the music in a country western fashion, husbands with arms around wife’s waist.
Tanya Tucker came out on stage and fans clapped with calm anticipation. Her performance was beautiful, and her enthusiasm did not tell she’s been in this business for forty years. Tucker shared stories about her songs, her spotlight journey, her public mistakes. She talked about grace and new beginnings, the chance to make wrong done’s right.
She’s a woman who has been there, been around, been up and been down. I listened a little closer to the words she sang. Country Man was partial to Strong Enough to Bend and I smiled through Love Me Like You Used To.
It seems country singers begin in small towns and finish in small towns.
And life on the farm is good.