SHANIA TWAIN NEWS, ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS
CHICAGO CONCERT REVIEWS
Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, August 30th 1998
What Bo Derek is to acting, Shania Twain is to country music.
Twain is one of the most camera-friendly stars ever to come jiggling out of Nashville (though she was born in Canada), and don't think she doesn't know it.
It's impossible to watch the singer in action, whether in her countless videos or on stage Saturday at the packed New World Music Theatre in her first concert tour, and not notice those abs. She's got a belly button that just won't quit, and seemingly every outfit she wears exploits it.
But Twain didn't sell 14 million records merely by looking terrific in a halter top (though it sure didn't hurt). Twain's two multiplatinum albums, "The Woman in Me" and "Come On Over", are first-rate guilty pleasures, uptempo ear candy that blithely ignores the Nashville rulebook for country queens.
From Patsy Cline to Tammy Wynette to LeAnn Rimes, Nashville likes its nightingales to sob a little when they sing. But Twain prefers to lay down her version of girl power: "This is what a woman wants", she declared at the outset of "Any Man of Mine", and proceeded to demand a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
She dispatched with her ballads by compressing them into a medley, devoting most of her two-hour performance to rocking singalongs.
LeAnn who? Patsy what? Take away the chaps and cowboy hat she wore on the back cover of her second album, put her in spandex and high heels, and Twain is this generation's answer to sexpot rock diva Pat Benatar.
Twain is smart to emphasize groove over grace, because she has a pleasant but not particularly powerful or distinctive alto voice; there were only a few moments when she stood alone to emote Rimes-like into the night.
She was frequently bolstered by anthemic harmonies from her nine-piece band, a local high school choir chimed in on "God Bless the Child", and she even pulled a couple of young novices from the audience and backstage to help her sing two tunes.
Twain compensated for her lack of technical refinement with pacing and attitude. She projected no-nonsense determination as she two-stepped across the three-tiered stage, drawing mostly on material produced by her husband, Robert John 'Mutt' Lange, who put the pomp in Def Leppard's metal hits of the '80s.
She was backed by as many as three fiddlers and a pedal-steel guitarist to keep the twang in older tunes such as "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?" and "No One Needs to Know". But otherwise her band's sound, even its look - leather pants, sleeveless T-shirts - owed more to the mainstream rock of Boston, Def Leppard and Aerosmith, the pop sheen of Missing Persons and Berlin.
In a sense, Twain has traded one formula (Nashville's) for another (mid-'80s MTV). She weighs in with some noncontroversial social messages - domestic abuse is bad ("Black Eyes, Blue Tears"), kids shouldn't starve ("God Bless the Child"). And she extols the virtues of being young, rich and female in the '90s, like the Canadian Spice Girl she is: "Color my hair - do what I dare". What'll she think of next? Polishing her finger nails twice a day? The mind reels.
But depth isn't Twain's forte, fun is. And from the Motley Crue two-step of "Love Gets Me Every Time" to the Gary Glitter bomp of "Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)", Twain kept the buzzing big-beat hooks coming, the perfect soundtrack for strutting in a halter-top on a summer night.
||AS COUNTRY AS THE MANHATTAN SKYLINE
Larry Mcshane, August 27 1998
NEW YORK (AP) - She looks about as country as the Manhattan skyline.
Skin-tight black leather pants, cut low to expose her belly button. A red ribbon of fabric, strategically placed above her bare midriff. Thick chestnut hair, cascading down her back.
But Shania Twain, who wore the above ensemble for her recent Rolling Stone cover shoot, is adamant that she's more Nashville than New York.
"I consider myself a country artist," she says. "That music was always such a big part of me growing up. I loved Stevie Wonder and the Carpenters, but Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton were just as big an influence.
"You've to got to fit somewhere, and for the sake of fitting, I'm country," the 32-year-old Canadian continues. "I have no complaints about that. The challenge is to go beyond that."
The Rolling Stone cover, released in August, is just part of her success in handling that challenge. Twain became the first female country artist on the cover since Dolly Parton in 1980, a distinction she's quite proud to claim.
"It's hard to break free of the mold, to try and transcend labels," she says. "It's just difficult to do. When I can, I consider it a triumph somehow for me."
Her first world tour, which started in North America in May, is another triumph. When tickets went on sale for her Detroit show, they were gone in 29 minutes - a rate matched previously by The Who and Metallica.
The critics were wowed, too. One reviewer said the current queen of country put on a show "that was more Patti Smith than Patty Loveless" - a first-of-its-kind comparison.
By midsummer, Twain's single "You're Still The One" had crossed over everywhere: No. 2 on the Billboard Top 40, No. 1 on adult contemporary, No. 1 on country, in heavy rotation at mellow VH1 and its hipper sibling, MTV.
Her across the board success, her flesh-baring videos, and her collaboration with husband (and ex-Def Leppard producer) Robert "Mutt" Lange have ruffled some feathers in Nashville - which is just the way Twain likes it.
"I was, at one time, trying to convince people that it's valid to be original and unique," she says, laughing. "That means not being traditional, but it also means not being run of the mill. I just go about things my own way."
It has worked.
Twain was Billboard's No. 1 country artist in 1996, and captured a best country album Grammy that same year for "The Woman in Me." Her latest album, "Come On Over," was another chart-topper. And the tour is selling out.
But Twain's success has created some problems - like becoming a topic for the supermarket tabloids.
"I take most of it with a grain of salt: `Shania and Mutt divorcing, or unhappy, or whatever,"' she says. "We laugh about it, because it's so far from the truth."
But one recent story did get under her skin, a piece detailing how "Snooty Shania" can't stand her fans.
"I love my fans," she said.
The exposure has also convinced Twain to abandon her upstate New York home for a new place in Switzerland. Her New York neighbors are "wonderful, sweet and normal," she said. "But it's tough being recognized at the grocery store."
Only five years ago, Twain could do all her shopping unimpeded. Her 1993 debut album disappeared quickly, but it was still the year that changed her life: She met Lange in June, and they married six months later.
Working with her husband, she struck platinum - 12 times over - with her follow-up, "The Woman in Me." It sold 10 million copies in the United States, a sales figure hit by only five other women: Carole King, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette.
"Come On Over" has sold more than 4 million copies in nine months. Twain says the numbers, while impressive, don't mean all that much to her.
"I don't pay much attention to the charts" she says. "It's like the stock market. I can't sit there and watch the stock market. If you put too much emphasis on it, you set yourself up for disappointment."
SHANIA'S OTHER WORLD
Country Weekly, August 1998
There's only one Shania Twain, but she's reaching out to two different worlds - the North American country music audience that first embraced her, and everyone else on the planet. Shania's international campaign has required a new look, tinkering with her music, some new duet partners and a lot of hard work.
"My goal is to appeal to as many people as I can," Shania says. "I'm not looking to leave country, but I do want to have more international success. The more people who hear your music the more satisfied you are as an artist."
After conquering North America's country market with The Woman in Me, the best-selling album ever by a female country artist, her combination of country, pop, good looks, sense of fun and personality is taking the rest of the world by storm. "You're Still the One" from Come on Over -- her second straight multiplatinum album -- has become a worldwide smash.
As Shania broadens her audience beyond her original base of country fans in North America, she's making changes both small and substantial. Her music, her look and her marketing have all been changed, to the point that the Shania country fans know in North America is different than the Shania who is being introduced to Europe, Australia and Asia.
The international version of her multiplatinum album Come on Over is different - the steel guitars and fiddles on some of the songs have been pushed into the background. There's a solo version of "From This Moment On," a country duet hit in North America with Bryan White. International fans who pick up the album see a different set of photos on the cover, with a silvery sleeveless gown draped over Shania instead of a red shirt.
"She's developing into a big star," says Trevor Smith, who represents the Country Music Association in Australia, where Come on Over hit No. 1 on the charts. "People love her. They've taken to her like a duck to water."
"This has been the year when Shania has really found an audience," says Paul Sexton, a British country music expert who writes for the Times.
The album has a chance to go platinum in the United Kingdom - an honor achieved there by 300,000 sales. In Holland, fans have bought 20,000 copies of Come on Over, says Karen Holt, the CMA's representative based in The Netherlands. By comparison, Alan Jackson's most recent album sold 8,000 copies. In all, she's sold nearly 6 million copies of Come on Over - one in four internationally.
"Our marketing strategy for Shania is comparing her to Mariah Carey and those type of artists," says David Lory, vice president of artist development and international marketing for Mercury Records. "We market Shania like a pop star because she is a pop star internationally."
Lory says an absence of European country music stations makes it necessary to promote Shania as a pop artist. "They don't have categories broken down in Europe and Australia the way they do here in America or Canada. They don't have country stations or rap stations. On the radio over there you'll hear a rap artist followed by a rock artist, then a pop artist."
To be successful internationally, downplaying the country association is wise, Sexton says. "People still have an old-fashioned view of what country music is," he says. "They still tend to call it country and western, and cling to some of the old caricatures."
Shania's shift toward an international audience also involves releasing a different set of songs as singles. In North America, "Love Gets Me Every Time" and "Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)," came out first. Internationally, "You're Still the One" and "When" were the first two choices. The song "From This Moment On" gave Shania another opportunity. Bryan White is featured as Shania's duet partner in the North American version of the song, but his part may be sung by others when the international version is released.
Ronan Keating, lead singer of the hit Irish pop group Boyzone, says that he has finished recording a version of "From This Moment On" with Shania. Mercury Records says a duet with the popular Brazilian duo Chitãozinho E Xororó has also been recorded for the Latin and South American market.
"It makes logical sense," says the CMA's Bower. "You're going to get a foothold in any market if you use a domestic artist that already has a level of success."
||ROLLING STONE ARTICLE
Rolling Stone, September 1998
On a late morning in early summer, Shania Twain decided to catch a few minutes alone with her horses. This was at her place way out in the Adirondacks, past Lake Saranac, New York, near Cat Mountain. The place is actualty a twenty-square-mile estate, with an electronic security gate at the entrance, lots of forest, a great big lake and a road that snakes back into the middle of nowhere. Overlooking the lake is a giant wooden structure, freshly built, composed of a world-class recording studio, apartments for guests, room for the Twain Zone business offices and all the usual amenities; and this isn't even the main house, which has yet to be built, though there are steps leading up to where it one day may be.
It was almost noiseless out there, and deeply serene. For a while, no one knew where Shania was, and various nervous Twain personnel scurried about. Then she ambled down from the stables with her hair in a topknot, in jeans and very little makeup, and swung inside the back of the bus that would shortly take her on her first-ever world tour but that now carried her into Lake Placid to practice her stage act.
Even without a tour, Shania had gone from being the biggest thing in country music, with 1995's The Woman in Me (sales: 10 million , the most of any album by a female country artist), to among the biggest things in both country and pop, with last winter's Come On Over (sales: 4 million and rising), both of them produced by her husband, Robert 'Mutt' Lange, who had also produced hit records for Def Leppard and Michael Bolton. In this regard, she was almost as much of a crossover sensation as Dolly Parton or Garth Brooks - more, really, since Dolly and Garth sold like pop stars but never shed their corn pone. Shania, though, had almost too little country for some of her critics and the numbers to suggest that she might be too big for that world, anyway. During one week in May, her single 'You're Still the One' was both the Number Two pop song and the Number One country single in America. Meanwhile MTV began playing the song's video, following VH1's lead. Then, in Detroit, Shania sold out the Pine Knob Amphitheater in just twenty-nine minutes, a pace matched only by the Who, Metallica, Bob Seger and Jimmy Buffett.
Naturally, this kind of success had not occurred overnight, nor without concomitant controversy and the pissing off of various folks. Nor, in Shania's case, did it happen without a major personal tragedy; her parents were killed in a car accident when she was twenty-one, leaving her to care for three younger siblings. But looking out her bus window at the passing countryside, she did not speak of these things now. Pleasantly, she settled in and started to give an accounting of herself as, among other things, a simple Canadian girl from a rugged gold-mining city called Timmins, in the frigid northern reaches of Ontario, 500 miles beyond Toronto. She was a shy teenager, a little at odds with her sexuality, even angry at times over the unwanted attention of boys. She said that she preferred not to think of herself as a country artist or as a pop artist but, simply, as an artist who had done what ever it took to get work." She said that for as long as she could remember, she had but one dream. "My goal has always been to be international," she said. "It's what I have wanted right from the start." To that end, she wrote songs that were clever and decidedly commercial and used her looks to give them visual punch, and she made no apologies for either.
She paused for a moment, thinking about her looks. Like many beautiful women she was canny about what she had and yet also keenly aware of her flaws. "I don't see anything in particular in the mirror," she said with a shrug. "Pretty plain. Pretty simple. I have good teeth. Strong teeth. I floss all the time, twice a day. My eyes are too small. Have good cheekbones. My legs are stumpy. A dented nose." She winced at the mention of her nose, for she would not have known it was in this way if not for photographer John Derek. Shania had asked him to take pictures for her second album, some three years ago. He agreed and arrived with Bo. In Shania's eyes, Bo was still perfect. In John's eyes, Shania was anything but. "He sees me," Shania recalled, "and I'm like a monster to him. It wasn't funny at the time. 'Somebody give me a knife!' he said. 'I've got to cut that nose off!'"
Shania sighed and swept back some uncooperative strands of hair. During the shoot, which took place before Shania was a success, and during their time together afterward, Shania, John and Bo became friends. Now John was dead. He'd died just two days ago of a heart attack. Within an hour of his death, Bo called with the news, It struck Shania hard, but that night she took to the practice stage anyway. "It's such a shock," she said. "You know, kind of a drag. And then I had to do the rehersal.
I didn't want anybody to see me, 'cause I just hate that affecting me". She considered her words. For a moment, she looked a little befuddled, like maybe she had misspoken or said something unfortunate. "But of course she went on it has to affect me you don't want to say, I'm not bummed out or, I have to forget that I'm bummed out'. It was just a terrible thing. It was a very sudden thing. He had a massive ... some kind of a ... and he died very quickly. So now Bo's alone. It keeps freaking me out a bit."
When you think of it, it is kind of a miracle, Shania Twain in the same league as the Who and Metallica. And it doubtless swelled the hearts of not only the Shania publicity machine but also the Jon Landau management team, which began working with Shania in early 1997 and which also works with Bruce Springsteen and Natalie Merchant. No doubt none of this mattered much to Shania, just as it didn't mean all that much to her to learn, in 1996, that her Woman in Me album had broken a sales record long held by Patsy Cline. "I don't get all that excited," she said. "It's a great thing. But you know what? I don't take a lot of pride in those things, for some reason. It just doesn't mean that much." She kind of snorted and laughed. "My poor manager gets so excited," she continued. "And I'm not a lot of fun. I'm like, 'That's great. Now let's move on.'"
If Shania is unruffled by show-business milestones that would make other performers insufferable, she probably has her reasons. Her father, Jerry, an Ojibwa Indian, and her mother, Sharon, an Irish-Canadian, raised her in a medium-size city in northern Canada, home to some of the largest gold mines in North America, 200 lakes, a year-round view of the sparkling northern lights, temperatures that can reach minus-forty degrees, many, many ice-fishing fanatics, a subpar educational system and more than its share of unemployed.
Indeed, Jerry, a forester and prospector, never had steady work. There were four kids in a house with three bedrooms, and the family was poor. When there was milk around, a rare enough event, it was doled out in exact portions. At school, Shania envied the apples and roast-beef sandwiches of the other kids; she never had too many apples; between her two slices of bread was only mayo or mustard, nothing else. She lived in fear that her teachers would find out that her folks couldn't afford to feed her and she'd be taken away. That, she said, was her only worry. She didn't care, apparently, that she was sometimes desperately hungry. "I don't look at it as a bad thing at all," she said. "I don't regret my childhood. Learning to make mustard sandwiches was something just to get me through the embarrassment, to help me avoid humiliation." If someone said to her, "That's so sad," she would say, with force, "It's not sad". She loved her mom and dad. She knew that they could very easily have lived a better life if they went on the dole. But her dad was determined to make his way on his own. "It was a pride thing," she said. "I respect him for that, and I don't feel bad for myself, even for a second."
If Shania didn't, however, her mother did. Because she often couldn't feed her kids or even keep them warm or even keep their clothes all washed (hand washed, in the bathtub), she sometimes got into bed and could not get out, she was so depressed. "Tough times, man," Shania said, rather coolly, looking back at it. Even so, Jerry and Sharon had their dreams, and their dreams mostly revolved around Shania, who from the age of three could sing with vibrato and had a good enough ear for harmony. She took up the guitar She wrote her own songs. She was quite something else, and the older she got, the more Sharon thought that this kid could make it big.
Shania listened to her parents' favorites: Wayton Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton,Tammy Wynette; but, as well, to the Mamas and the Papas, the Carpenters, the Supremes and Stevie Wonder, for whom she fervently wanted to be a backup singer. For a poor, shy girl, music was a refuge, her hidng spot. Indeed, she didn't want to be a star. But that's what her mom wanted. At the age of eight, then, Shania played guitar and sang at community centers and at senior-citizen homes and at the bar inside Timmins' Mattagami Hotel, where she'd get up onstage after-hours and carry on bravely, surrounded by cigarette smoke and a whiskey-fume haze.
One person who heard her perform during this time was Mary Bailey, a fellow Canadian, a country singer herself and eventually Shania's first manager. "She was this little girl who got on a stage with a guitar and just blew me away," Bailey recalled. During high school, Shania spent her summers leading a reforestation crew for her dad - reportedly, she wields a mean chain saw - and working at a McDonald's. She fronted a rock band, playing the usual Top Forty stuff, Journey, Cheap Trick and Pat Benatar. She rarely drank and never did drugs, which made her the only one in her circle of friends to be such a square, though no one really cared. "I mean, I knew that that was black hash and that was blond," she said. "But I was so high on music, and the music was so good - Supertramp and Rush and Pink Floyd. We're all going to see Pink Floyd, and I'm like, 'You guys want to put a few things on your tongue, do acid, you just go ahead.' Meanwhile, I probably looked high. I used to really rock out. I'd get people coming up to me saying, 'Do you do drugs or what?' I never did, but I looked like I did."
In 1987, when Shania was twenty-one, her world was turned upside down: Her parents died in a headon collision with a fully loaded logging truck. "I called her," Shania's sister Carrie-Ann, 30, said recently. "She was in Toronto, pursuing her music. I just remember pretty much saying what happened and hanging up the phone, and the next thing, it seemed that she was sort of there." Indeed, over the years, when talking about it, Shania spoke only about what happened, the events, and about what happened next, and never about what was going on deep down inside her. She looked for solace in work, took care of her younger siblings and just got on with her career. Up until this time, it seemed as though she would become a rock musician. Afterward, she first tilted toward Las Vegas, then marched straight into country.
The suggestion has been made, numerous times, that the dire circumstances of Shania's youth have been enlarged upon and embellished. "They have an apocryphal ring," went one report. Wrote author Laurence Leamer in his book about country music,Three Chords and the Truth, "A brilliant reconstruction ... a virtual past." The idea, of course, is that of such out-of-poverty stories are great myths made, and that Shania's use of some basic hardships was a marketing masterstroke designed to give everyone alive something about her they could relate to or admire or pity, which would in turn lead to increased record sales and eventual worldwide musical domination.
"Well, I want to set that guy [Leamer] straight,"Shania said one afternoon "Because you know what? The reality is, if anything, I'm easy on the subject. The only reason that I talk about it at all is because I have this charity I support [Kids Cafe/Second Harvest Food Bank, which provides meals for underprivileged children] and I want to make people aware of it." She made a sour expression and blew a raspberry through her lips. "It's all very true," she said. "Like, as if I'd make any of it up for commercial gain! I have not fabricated anything in my life."
Maybe that was true, but little minds didn't agree. In early 1996 the Timmins newspaper came out with a startling report. It started off, "The Daily Press has learned that Twain has woven a tapestry of half truths and outright lies in her climb to the top of the country charts." The prevarications, it turned out, all revolved around a single fact: that her biological father was not Jerry Twain, as she had always maintained, but a French-Irish railroad engineer named Clarence Edwards. This made Jerry her adoptive father, and, in turn, made an issue of one other matter; Shania's bloodline. She was not, in fact, of Ojibwa Indian descent; her heritage had been conferred upon her through adoption.
All hell broke loose. There was a storm of bad publicity in Nashville, which likes to think that it values integrity and roots more than anything; there was more storming in Timmins; there were threats of lawsuits; and all the usual modern-day fallout. It was ugly. And if you swore your allegiance to emotional truth over literal truth, it probably never should have happened. Two years later, Shania still couldn't understand the fuss: "The reality is that, to me, it's a very non-issue. Someone just took advantage of a situation to get some kind of recognition for it." She shook her head and pushed at a bowl with some huge, glistening strawberries in it and didn't seem especially hurt by what the Timmins paper. "I'm very sensitive about a lot of things, actually,"she said after a while. "I don't come across that way. I tend to be very frank and bold. I'm sure I come across as very driven, very direct, very focused, and none of those things encompass any real sensitivity. But I'm quite a sensitive person."
The dog came sniffing around. Shania used to have a burly bodyguard, but having a bodyguard got to be a little much, she has always valued her privacy. A burly dog was much better, His name was Tim, a German Shepard one of those fancy, insanly expensive Shutzhund-tranind dogs: not a killer, but deeply motivated to love and protect one person- in Tim's case, Shania, though Mutt seemed to be Ok in his book, too.
"That's enough, Tim, you little Nosy Parker," Shania said. "You go plotz. Go plotz. It's Ok." Tim continued to nudge Shania. "Phooey!" she said. He laid himself down across the tops of her feet. What happened after her parents died was this: She didn't crumble .
"I became very hard for quite a long time. I was so numb. Nothing penetrated. It was a very difficult time. But boy, oh, boy, did I ever get strong." She had her three younger siblings to take care of, which she did by calling on Mary Bailey, who helped her get a job at an Ontario resort as a lounge singer and a member of a rhinestone-studded, feather headdress wearing, leggy Las Vegas-type revue. She was not a glamour puss. She could look washed out pinched. And her name wasn't Shania. It was Eileen, the name she grew up with But around this time,Bailey helped Shania cut a demo of original tunes and get it listened to in Nashville, which liked what it heard, which led to a request for a new, more suitable first name (taken from an acquaintance, the 0jibwa name Shania means "I'm on my way," the ultimate signifigance of which has been lost on no one) It was noteworthy for one thing, though: the video for the song "What Made You Say That." It featured Shania and some stud twirling around a tropical beach setting and the first major sighting of Shania's navel, which she would flaunt to great effect in subsequent videos. In London, seeing the video and Shaia for the first time, Mutt Lange was, by all accounts mesmerized. The way the story goes, he had woman, so he called Mary Bailey and word for Shania to call him. . Well, neither woman knew this Mutt from Adam - he was a famous not a famous country producer, so maybe Shania would get back to him, maybe not. But he kept calling till he got her on the phone. It was definitely a force that brought us together."
Shania said once. "Some went through a lot of anger and frustration over that as a teenage girl." She then started talking as she sometimes did, in the second person, as if what happened to her had in fact, happened to someone else. The guys see a girl who's developed up there maybe they touch you up there and you really feel very invaded. And so, you know what? The easiest thing is to just cover them up, trying to get rid of the bounce factor. And that's what I did I wore three shirts at a time. I tied my self in. And now I've got a song on this album called 'If You Want to Touch Ask!' Well, it stems from that. I could have made it a much deeper, darker song. But that's not the way I go."
I think her approach to life experiences is to strive for a of positiveness that animates most of what she writes," said Jon Landau. I think that's her philosophy. She works her butt off. She's very results oriented, no-nonsense. And, to me, she is utterly real."
Recalling the old days, Mary Bailey said that Shania lived for her music: "She's very similar to an athlete going for the gold. I'm sure she's got a frivolous side to her, as I'm sure we all do, "The truth is," Shania said later, "I'm distracted by very little besides music. When it really gets down to it, for instance, I am not a sexual person. My mind isn't there. I mean, I'm very satisfied, and I'm not hard to satisfy. But I'm not one of those people who just always has this desire. I don't think like that. Never did. Always had total control of my sexual habits.
"I'm very conservative, really," she went on. "I'm not that physical. I mean I am with Mutt, of course, and with my dog. But beyond that, not even with my family. I'm just not one of these hug everybody people. I'm better now than I was. Used to be, I didn't even want my mother to hug me. I used to hate it.
"I will only wear a bathing suit with a wrap, unless I'm really being daring", she continued. "Oh, sometimes I get free spirited enough to actually say, I don't give a shit!' But it doesn't happen often. Like, even if I was the only person on the beach that wasn't topless, I would not take my bathing-suit top off. My husband would go, 'Why not? Every other woman on this beach is topless' But I couldn't. It's just the way I am."
Shania stayed on the bus, just the way she was. On her videos, she was sassy, flirty, roundabout and sexually carefree. In private, she was none of these things. "She's very quiet, very reserved, and very cautious about who she lets in," said Bailey. Shania knew perfectly well that she was perfectly split in this way, and it did not seem to stir her She could talk about it with ease and even seem amused that she wasn't more sexual or even more warm. She was simply the singer doing whatever it took to get work, and if sometimes how was onstage wasn't how she really was, that didn't make her any less her own person, any less pure.
It was almost time to go practice. Soon she would be playing before Who- and Metallica-size crowds. Since she didn't tour for her first two albums, this would be a first for her. She wasn't worried. One way or the other, she had been performing since she was three. She had become the kind of woman who has a motto. Her motto was "A happy heart comes first, then the happy face." It's what she strove for. Mostly, it's what her songs were about and probably why they sold so well, making her nearly international, because so many people were living the motto the other way around, face first, and it wasn't workng and maybe they could sense that Shania was onto something better.
It was because of that motto that she and Mutt recently considered putting their huge Adirondack place up for sale and made plans to move to Switzerland. It was the privacy thing. They could no longer have happy hearts here, Mutt for his own private reasons and Shania because, even in the boondocks surrounding Lake Placid, she could not find the room to just be herself.
"I mean, look," she said. "I live in the most remote area you could possibly live in, and yet everyone knows everything about me. I come into town wearing a hat and sunglasses, and I'm still recognized. It must be my mouth or something. Anyway, you just want to be one of everybody else. Especially me. I know I'll get more privacy over there; it'll be nice to be able to get on a plane and get off and then be in a completely different world. Because of the type of person I am, I'll enjoy that."
Because of the type of person that she is, she didn't touch any of the magnificent strawberries that were in a bowl on her bus, and they were looking a little dried up and not quite so plump. At one time, Shania couldn't afford a strawberry of this sort; now she could afford to buy them and not eat them. It was OK. It was good to have them. They were still there, in case she changed her mind and suddenly, for instance, needed one.
EVEN SHOWGIRLS GET THE BLUES
Rolling Stone, 1998
Shania Twain discusses writing, juggling and crying
On writing: I never wanted anyone to hear things unfinished. Like no, no, no, you can't hear anything. My mother used to try so hard to catch me songwriting and I would just get so mad at her. "Don't listen, I'm not going to write then, I'm not going to write today then." Or I'd take my guitar and I'd go write out in the bush somewhere. "If you're going to listen I'm going to go write somewhere else." "I just want to know what you're doing. I just want to hear a little bit of something. Can't you play me something?" "No, no, not till it's finished." That's the way I was.
On her critics: I do get offended. But I don't get offended at their analysis of the whole thing but it always offends me when people take the liberty to knock you, because artistically you can't - there's no rights and wrongs. And this is what bugs me about criticism. It's not necessarily me personally, but I get offended when people do that with the arts, because it's like, this isn't like a race, you know, this isn't like that guy crossed the finish line first so he's the best runner. How can you judge? I mean it's like - you know, that's like saying, I could take Bob Dylan, for instance, I mean, and you put him up against Stevie Wonder and one can sing great and one can't. You know. But are you going to - is that really right? Is that really true? Like, how do you really write that, how do you really come to those conclusions?
On her first intimate moments with Mutt Lange: We knew each other - actually we pretty much wrote almost all of the album before we even revealed our feelings to each other at all. Which wasn't long. It was kind of exciting, actually. It's very funny because I've always been that way. I've never, ever, ever let a guy know the way I felt about him until I know. Because I'm just never a fool for that. I, I don't know whether I'm just really old-fashioned that way or what. But I just always felt there's no point making a fool of yourself, you know. Just feel it out for a little while. But, you know, when you meet somebody, get to know them for a little while. I just feel I've never been rushed about those things, I guess is what I'm saying. Just one day we hugged each other. But it was such a - it was a different kind of hug, and that was actually when we knew - right there. So it wasn't a kiss. So it wasn't like a very sexual moment or a passionate moment, it wasn't. It was a very sweet, honest moment.
On crying: I can get really emotional. It's got to be an age thing. I never used to get emotional. And I can get really sensitive, like - one time - this is such a sad thing - this kind of thing can make me just ball my eyes out. I was watching this program and this poor guy's dog got run over and he brought it into the vet and it was this little dog, and the poor dog could only move his upper body. His spine was cut and he was paralyzed from the mid down. And only could like lift his head and look at his owner. And, this is real life. Like the Discovery Channel or something. So this guy brings his dog in and they go through the whole procedure and this poor old guy, this is his buddy, this is his only pal in life. And he said, I'm sorry, but there's nothing we can do for him. We're going to have to put him to sleep. Would you like to stay with him while we put him to sleep? Oh, my God. And the old guy was crying and it was the saddest thing I've ever seen. I bawled, I just cried. I couldn't deal with it.
On juggling: I can juggle. I can juggle 3 things. No, I can juggle 4 things, that's pretty good. But I'm not practiced. But yeah, that's something that comes quite naturally to me. I don't know why. Juggling of all things. But yeah, but I don't know if I'd call that talent.
Her motto: My motto is always, you know, a happy heart comes first, then the happy face. It's like you can't have a happy face if you don't have a happy heart kind of thing. And I mean I believe in that very much because maybe just being through hardships and learning that life just has to go on and you have to make it go on and that's all there is to it.
On getting drunk for the first time: The first time was when I was 13 and my parents got me drunk because I was showing curiosity, you know, what does that taste like? And I think it was like a holiday of some kind and they were having a few drinks, cause they never drank normally they never had liquor in the house. Maybe that's why I was so curious about it. So my dad, you know, being smart enough as he was, knowing that at 13 kids start drinking. Experimenting and stuff. So he said well, do you want to taste it? And I said yeah. So I tasted it and I said, hm, that's good. And I didn't really like it, and he goes, oh, you want some more? Sure. So I don't know how much I had, not that much. But you know he wanted me to be drunk, he wanted me to feel terrible the next day. And it worked, it was good. And I was like singing, I remember so well, singing with my guitar and slurring my words and falling off the chair - I was drunk. I remember the feeling. And then I went to bed and [threw up] all over everything. And they knew, they waited for me, they came, cleaned me all up, treated me like the baby that I was. And then made great fun of me the next day.
Neil Pond, Country America, Sept 98 Edition
Sensual Shania Twain Talks About Sex, Saddles and Skeletons in the Closet
Shania Twain has a very special traveling companion this summer. "He's mature," says the brunette bombshell. "He's a bit older. And very experienced."
And wink, wink he's not her husband. He's a horse.
An Andalusian named Dancer from Shania's stable back home in upstate New York is accompanying her on her concert tour across the United States. Whenever Shania, an experienced equestrienne, rolls into town and hops off the bus with a couple of hours to kill before showtime, she saddles up.
Just don't expect an invitation to trot along. Shania prefers to go solo.
"I don't want to make it a social event," she says. "It's my private time."
That is, as opposed to her public time which is a lot of her time this summer. On her first major tour since the release of her blockbuster 1995 CD, the 10-million-selling The Woman in Me, Shania is finally on stage, performing live for stadium-size crowds. By the end of August, she'll have over 40 concert dates under her belt or, at least, somewhere around her famously unclothed midriff.
As such, Shania is answering the skeptics who once doubted that she would ever venture out of the recording studio and into the arena spotlight. After the release of last summer's Come On Over CD, Shania still sat tight, adding even more fuel to the she'll-never-tour rumor fire. Only when she felt like she had just the right number of hit songs, just the right musicians, just the right arrangements, just the right stage design, just the right show and just the right frame of mind only then did she gas up the bus and go.
She admits it was a risky move, waiting so long to give her millions of CD- buying fans a full-blown concert experience. "Yeah, I thought, 'Maybe the fans won't be there,"' she says. "But you always take risks in this industry. No pain, no gain. If I'd wanted to have a run-of-the-mill career, if I'd allowed the industry to make my decisions for me, I probably could have had a successful, easy career. But maybe I wouldn't be as successful." She pauses. "I'm sure I wouldn't be, actually."
Shania's road to success has indeed been paved with risky, unconventional decisions. She refused to make Nashville the focus of either her professional or personal life, choosing instead to live and record in the lavish, 3,000-acre Adirondack wilderness retreat she shares with her husband/producer, Robert "Mutt" Lange. She pushed country's envelope of conservative style, brandishing skin, sensuality, sass and attitude like no woman before her had dared. And, of course, she opted to forego touring which, for most country acts, goes hand-in-hand with hit singles until The Woman in Me, the CD that made her a household name, was three years old.
Each of those risky decisions, of course, paid off handsomely. As a result, Shania is not only one of the most successful women in the history of country music, but also it would certainly seem one of the most independent-minded and self-confident.
Shania wasn't always so sure, however, of her course or of herself. The woman who introduced country music to the belly button, for instance, was so uncomfortable as a teenager with her blossoming figure that she tried desperately to conceal its curves.
"I was so confused at that age about all that stuff," she says. "I did everything I could to hide what I had." She wore baggy track clothes to school and sometimes two bras. "So I wouldn't bounce," she explains. It bothered her that she couldn't join in a pick-up game of football without feeling every pair of guy-eyes on the field watching her jiggle.
"I was a girl physically, but it didn't matter to me I couldn't have cared less. I didn't think that's what it meant to be a girl." Now, she says, it's important for young women to hear that being a girl is more about brains than bodies.
"As women, we have a different mentality than men that's all there is to it. We're different regardless of the way our bodies are made," she says.
"I don't want my body to be a distraction from my talent or my brain. I found that very hard as a teenager. Only now am I realizing that, you know, I don't have to hide my body for people to take my brain seriously. That's the mistake I made all those years. I could have played football just as well, bouncing away. There wasn't anything wrong with me; it was them. It was their perception of me that was wrong. That's why I'm so adamant now about doing the job I know I can do as a songwriter and an artist and an individual and being the female I am at the same time.
"I'm definitely going through a stage where I'm becoming more comfortable with myself, and it does come out in the way I portray my music visually," she says, alluding to her videos for hits like "You Win My Love," "Any Man of Mine," "The Woman in Me (Needs the Man in You)" and "Still the One."
"Music is a very sensual thing. I like to make the distinction between sensua l and sexual. You don't have to be having sex in a video for it be sensual. I think it can be anything but that. Look at Roy Orbison he was rarely ever seen, but I think everyone would agree that his music was extremely sensual. A lot of people probably fell in love to his music. A lot of people probably made babies to his music. I think most women would agree: It's not about physical touching or how much you reveal."
Shania, it bears noting, has certainly done her share of revealing, especially when you consider how she turned her tummy into a trademark. But, she cautions, there are still some things she'd never do in front of a camera or any other audience.
"Because I'm married, I'm not comfortable kissing another guy," she says. "I would never be comfortable being nude. There are some lines I've drawn for myself, my own standards of morality, as far as self-expression and being comfortable with my own body."
Back in her native Canada, she says, there's an ordinance that allows women to go topless in public. "You can actually walk down the street topless," she says. "I wouldn't be able to do that. Even if every other woman was topless on a beach, I don't think I could do it.
"I'm definitely more on the conservative side. As far as my music goes, obviously, the most I've ever shown is my midriff, and I'm quite comfortable with my midriff. It's like a man showing off his arms or something.
"Being comfortable with your body...," she says, then trails off before latching onto another line of thought. "I mean, some people aren't even comfortable being nude in front of their spouse."
Clearly, there are some things Shania holds sacred to the relationship between a husband and a wife. In the case of her and Mutt, their whole relationship itself seems to be so sacred, so personal and so off-limits to the rest of the world that it rarely reveals itself in public.
Mutt, who's 16 years older than Shania, never accompanies his wife to any public events. At awards shows, dinners, television tapings and other high- prof1le industry get-togethers that require Shania's attendance, he's a no- show. Most people outside their inner circle of friends and music associates don't even know what Mutt looks like. It causes quite a stir whenever Shania's seen on televised events with a handsome man at her side. Viewers wonder if it's Mutt, but it never is. It's always someone else her brother, her manager, the head of her record company. But never Mutt.
"We reserve our time together for more private things," she says simply. "He has no desire to be in public. Even though we work together, we don't mix that part of our lives with our private lives. It's very healthy. We're just normal, real people. We're not your classic 'Hollywood couple.' I don't know what that is, exactly, but it's not us."
Shania has always placed a high value on the institutions of home and family which is all the more vividly understandable considering that she lost her parents in a 1987 highway accident. In an instant, she realized how fragile a family can truly be.
"Yes, you can lose somebody overnight," she says softly. "Yes, your whole life can be turned upside down. Life is short. It can come and go like a feather in the wind."
Shania's sense of family sanctity was jarred again in 1996 when an Ontario newspaper broke a story that revealed a startling fact about her biography. The story, soon picked up by other news outlets in both Canada and the United States, called Shania's long-professed claim of an Ojibway Indian bloodline a "sham." It pointed out that she had been adopted while she was still a toddler and that it was her adoptive father, not her biological one, with Native American origins. It was her adoptive father who was killed in the car crash. Since Shania (whose pre-show-biz name was Eileen) had never pointed out this fact, or even mentioned her adoption in all the hundreds of interviews she'd conducted, she was accused of perpetuating a lie.
"It's nothing I was actually hiding," she says calmly. "It's very bizarre to me that it was ever perceived that way. And it was quite upsetting to me that people would actually think I was deliberately concealing something. Of course, the media wants something to be 'hidden.' They want me to have a skeleton in my closet. But I really don't have any.
"When my friends came over to my house and met my parents, I never even thought of saying, 'Oh, by the way, this isn't my real, biological father.' There are probably a lot of my friends who never knew my dad was not my biological dad. But it wasn't a secret. My father said, 'There will be no step-anything in this family.' We were a very mixed family. I've got a step- sister and two step-brothers, and we have three different fathers. It's just been one of those families. In a lot of ways, it wasn't all that different from the Brady Bunch."
Shania's family may have been similar to television's cheery Bradys in some ways, but it differed in at least another: The Bradys never went to bed with empty stomachs. The Twains, however, often lived hand-to-mouth. "We were hungry a lot when we were kids," Shania admits.
Things certainly didn't get much easier when her parents died and Shania, at 21, took her three younger siblings to raise. Buckling down to her role as family breadwinner, Shania picked up the pieces of her own dream of singing stardom only after she'd seen her little brothers and sister into adulthood.
In other words, Shania knows the meaning of hard work, and of hardship. She says the years of struggle gave her character and backbone but also made it difficult for her, sometimes even today, to feel like she can afford to slack off.
"In the end, it made me a very strong person," she says. "I don't feel like I have to fight to survive anymore, so I've kind of mellowed out a little bit. It's brought me to a place where I've decided I'm just going to be optimistic from now on. I just have to be positive about life. I have to learn to laugh and to have fun. I have to learn to loosen up a little bit."
Which brings us back to her tour. Shania is loosening up all over the place this summer, probably on a stage somewhere near you. And because it's her first time on a serious, pull-out-the-stops tour, she's finding out just how grueling road life can be. That's okay, she says.
"Later in my life, I'm going to look back and smile and be very fulfilled,'' she says. "I know that if I don't give it my all right now I'll regret it later. That's very important to me, because I've worked all my life to have this."
If life is a highway, Shania is on it for the long haul. And, as she's always done, she'll take all its bumps, its spills and its surprises in stylish stride.
"You never know what's around the next corner," she says. "But you have to be willing to explore it."
TWAIN REACHES ROLLING STONE MILESTONE
Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun
Shania Twain is on a major roll.
After receiving a whopping eight Canadian Country Music Award nominations and one Country Music Association nod this week, the fetching music superstar has confirmed she'll appear on an upcoming cover of Rolling Stone.
"As far as I know it is happening," Twain said yesterday prior to her sold-out show at the Molson Amphitheatre.
"I haven't seen it yet, but that's the scoop. We've done everything, so it's supposed to be coming out fairly shortly."
Twain said the Rolling Stone photo shoot involved her "standing in a wheat field. It's a very simple photograph. It's sensual but crisp and beautiful. It's color, it's nice, the wind is blowing."
Twain is now the best-selling female country artist in history - her latest album, Come On Over, has sold 6.2 million copies worldwide, including 760,000 copies in Canada.
The singer said she considers the Rolling Stone cover another milestone in her exploding career.
"Yeah, I think so, because I always find that it's our challenge as artists to be accepted by wider and wider audiences, and it's not an easy thing to achieve," Twain said. "As artists, you might appeal to different types of audiences and, for the most part, I have country audiences that enjoy my music, which is fantastic, 'cause I'm a country fan and that's wonderful.
"But at the same time, I have a pop audience, and I have had it ever since the second album, The Woman In Me, and it's nice to finally see the industry is admitting to the fact that there are pop fans out there."
Twain arrived in Toronto on Thursday night after having some time off in Florida, where she now has a coastal home, in addition to the upper New York estate she and husband-producer Mutt Lange are currently selling. She plays a second sold-out show at the Amphitheatre tonight before moving on to Montreal for a Monday night performance.
While USA Today suggested this week that Twain may have been slighted because of her sole CMA nomination for best album, she looks at it differently. Particularly in light of the leading eight CCMA nods she got.
"It works both ways," she said. "Sometimes I have a lot (of nominations) and sometimes I have a little or none. I kind of feel the same way on both sides. It's a bonus when you get them because it's just always nice to win anything, right?
"But you can't take them too seriously, because it's not an honest gauge as to where you're at. It's an industry thing. It's something that I like participating in, but I don't take so seriously that I allow it to either get me overly excited or overly disappointed."
Which isn't to say she wouldn't be blown away if she took home eight trophies at the Canadian Country Music Awards on Sept. 14 in Calgary.
"That would be very cool," Twain said. "That would just be another whole added thing."
She'll be travelling with her tour until next summer, although there will be some breaks so she can go off to Europe and Australia for promotion and smaller-scale shows.
Currently, she's trying to figure out a location to shoot a video for her next single, From This Moment On.
"I was doing it here, then I was doing it in Montreal. I don't know where I'm doing it," Twain said.
But the only thing really troubling Twain is that her busy schedule for the next three weeks is keeping her from one of her favorite pastimes - riding her horse, Dancer.
"For the last two months, I've had him on the road with me and I ride him in the mornings about four days a week," said Twain.
"But this little stretch, I'm not going to be able to take him with me. And I'm mad at myself because I promised myself, after five years of practically killing myself, that during the tour I was going to leave enough space for myself to ride.
"That's all I wanted and it only takes an hour and a half a day to do it, two hours at the most, and I don't have time for it."
||FIT FOR A QUEEN
Steve Tilley, Edmonton Sun, Jun 4, 1998
They came. They saw. But they didn't wear spurs.
If the crowd outside the Coliseum last night was any indication, fans of Shania Twain cross just about every style boundary there is. Who'd have thunk it?
Oh, sure, there were a handful of urban cowboys with their 45.4-litre hats and shiny new boots that have never so much as kicked a tumbleweed. Plus the odd try-a-Shania, decked out in big hair, tight pants and a shirt featuring the all-important exposed navel.
But for the most part, these were just plain folks. And, boy, were they excited.
"I'm going to give flowers to Shania," chirped four-year-old Bobbi Park, holding a small bouquet of paper-wrapped roses in one hand and her father Daniel's hand in the other as they toddled towards the entrance.
"And a kiss, too," she added, almost as an afterthought.
There was a lot of that kind of heartwarming sweetness about, and a lot of younger folk, too - grade-school kids with their families, teenage girls flush with that certain kind of excitement that comes before A Big Concert, and twentysomething couples in their finest Levi's.
Hundreds of people noshed on burgers and 'dogs, sucked on pop or beer and just generally had a relaxed, pleasant ol' time waiting for the doors to open so they could secure their seats and behold the Canadian queen of country.
"It's a pretty friendly crowd milling around," said city police Const. Bill Spinks, one of a handful of officers charged with the task of keeping the peace. And the peace was being easily kept.
Not being a Shania convert, I didn't know what to expect. About the most involved I'd ever got with Ms. Twain is when a male relative asked me to try and find a naked picture of her on the Internet.
It was an unsuccessful attempt, but I did get to meet the real thing last night. Sort of. OK, not really.
Bonnie Bryks, an employee with the city's planning and development department, was cajoled into being Shania for a day after winning a lookalike contest on CISN.
The radio station drove her around in a limo, escorted by police and everything, to meet and greet the populace before finally bringing her to the concert.
To me, driving a limo up to the Coliseum with a fake Shania inside seems sort of like teasing a dog with a piece of meat and then yanking it away just as Rover gets close enough to bite. Fun, in a mean sort of way.
"It's been the hardest thing I've ever done," said the shy mom-of-two as she nervously waited to be hauled in front of a TV camera.
Then she quickly added: "But we still had fun."
There was at least one real pre-show Twain spotting, when she took her dog for quick walk on the Coliseum's loading ramp. Even after warmup act Leahy hit the stage, a group of hardcore fans stayed glued to the chain link fence separating them from the tour buses in hopes of catching a glimpse.
But CISN's Michelle Morgan did what so many here wished they could have done - she spoke to the real Shania.
Morgan was simply sitting in on the sound check earlier yesterday when she spied a familiar looking figure sitting on the edge of the stage.
To avoid kicking herself for the rest of her life while wondering "what if?" Morgan went over and said hi to none other than Shania herself.
The two chatted briefly, and thus Morgan's brush with greatness was complete. Is she pretty in person? Disgustingly so, apparently. And tall?
"She's shorter than me!" said Morgan, who stands a little over five-foot-four.
Ah, but Shania was 100 feet tall last night, at least in the hearts of her fans. And she wasn't even wearing spurs.