Review: Outlaw country star gets the respect she deserves in ‘The Return of Tanya Tucker’
Director Peter Guralnick’s film profiles the singer during her brief comeback years.
Outlaw country star Tanya Tucker received a national audience for her first-ever concert appearance in nearly two decades at the end of January. But her long-time manager, Bill Shaffer, and his wife, Mary Alice, knew better than most that the music-star singer was struggling. In 2007, Tucker was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, an incurable progressive brain disorder that causes involuntary tremors and tremors of the face. At first, Tucker battled it alone, and her music was not well-received. But with every passing year, she found a renewed passion for it.
In late 2016, a little over a year before her official comeback, Tucker traveled to Nashville to work with music-industry honcho Ryan Adams, who had just signed her to his label, High Road Records. Adams told the country star that he believed there was an opportunity to put her back on TV.
And the star listened. Tucker spent the next year and a half being filmed several times a week by camera crews in and around Nashville, and she started to put together a new album, titled simply Tanya Tucker: The Return of Tanya Tucker. Tanya then began touring, performing and making new music while facing a medical diagnosis. The music-star’s life did not come to a halt.
The film was conceived a decade ago. At the time, Tucker was an active musician, performing and touring with her band, the Tanya Tucker Band. She was getting around like a young person, and her music was well-received. But it was a struggle. Tucker, who recorded over 20 music albums, and wrote over 30 songs, was still on her own and struggling with her disease. And that was just the beginning.
The documentary is an unflinching look at a woman struggling with the effects of Parkinson’s and the battle to get back on her feet. It chronicles