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Shania Twain is beaming. It could be because she’s a newlywed—last
December she married producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. It could
be because her second album, of which she is incredibly proud, is finally
finished. Or it could be both, since Shania had melded both her professional
life, working with her husband on The Woman In Me. Shania and Mutt met
at 1993’s Fan Fair. Apparently, Mutt was quite familiar with her
talents—he had her album, her videos. But Shania really didn’t know
who Mutt was. “It didn’t take me long to find out,” she says with
a laugh. “I’m bad with reading the back of album covers. I don’t
read them, so I didn’t know he was a producer. I had no idea—not
just that he was a producer, but that he was a famous producer.” Their
following courtship resulted in a marriage—and a musical partnership.
The pair collaborated in the writing of the material and co-producing Shania’s
new project. For two people with such busy careers with the potential
of not having much time to spend together, this was the perfect opportunity.
“There’s a song called ‘The Woman In Me’ that is one of the first songs
we wrote together. Actually, the first song we wrote together was
called ‘Home Ain’t Where His Heart is Anymore.” The last song that
we wrote for the album, which was a last minute song, I think we wrote
it two weeks before we went into the studio, it’s called ‘If You’re
Not In It For Love, I’m Outta Here,’ it’s a really fun uptempo (Track).
There’s a title that I wrote last year called, ‘Whose Bed Have Your Boots
Been Under,’ it’s a fast song, it’s a kicker. He dug the title and
said, Let’s write a song around that.” “One of my favorites on the album—and
this is a very vain statement—but I wrote this one by myself (laughs).
This song is true country, it’s the real thing, and you don’t hear much
of it anymore. It’s called ‘Leavin’s The Only Way Out,’ and it’s
a very sad song.” According to Shania, there are several heart-wrenching
ballads on the album. But don’t expect her to lose it when she performs
her own material live—though you might catch her getting teary-eyed while
singing another writer’s emotional interlude. ‘I get more choked
up if I sing a ballad that someone else wrote, more than I would my own,”
she admits. “Like a fan would, if a fan is sitting in the audience
or listening to the radio and they hear a song, a ballad, a tearjerker
that an artist is doing, they can relate to it, in whichever way it pertains
to their life, or however it relates to their own circumstances.
In that regard, I’m a fan, I’m reacting the way a fan would react.
It’s gonna touch me the way it’s gonna touch a fan. When I wrote
my own ballad, you sit there for hours trying to get the lyrics right,
and getting the mood right, and the feel and the melody, you’re working
away.”Shania believes her sophomore effort is a natural progression.
It’s not too far removed from her debut, but it does take her tastes a
step further. “It’s the same (as the first) in one aspect, the fact
that it’s got variety,” she says. “I would get bored very quickly
if I had too much of one thing. I need to have the variety.
So this album, the margin is fairly wide as far as the style. I mean,
it’s country, there’s no doubt about that, but you’re still gonna get the
blues inflections. It’s my generation to have those.”Although Mutt
is prominently known in the industry for his work with rock artists, Shania
stresses that he had nothing to do with her leaning toward an edgier sound.
“I’m naturally influenced in that way,” she says. “Like I was saying,
it’s similar to my last album that way, you’re still gonna hear that.
Mutt’s such a country fan, he wouldn’t want it to be rock, he does that
all the time.” If Shania sounds confident, it’s because she’s taken all
of the things she’s gone through during her first whirl around the music
business to heart. “I’ve learned a lot from my first album and my
first year, just in what I’ve experienced,” she says. “The whole
first year I learned how to pace myself. I’m much more prepared for
a hit album. The first album prepared me musically, as a performer,
as a professional, prepared me for the industry, prepared me for the fans—everything.
It’s been a workhouse. I’m ready to go. This album is going
to have an experienced artist behind it.” Shania attributes much of her
own confidence to the belief that she has in her husband’s production talents.
“He’s a great quality-control. I mean, I can write songs ‘til I’m
blue in the face, but he knows when he hears a hit. His track record
is incredible. It’s like none other. When he says it’s a hit,
I believe him. When he say’s the vocals right, I believe him. I have
total confidence in him. There are occasions though, when Shania questions
his ear. “I know things I don’t like” she adds. “I’ll do it
‘til I get it right.”Though she is quite confident in her latest release,
she says she is realistic about the business. “I just go out and
do what I do and some people like it, not everyone’s gonna love it, and
there’s always gonna be someone better than you, and I never want to forget
that,” she states. “I don’t ever want to change that, because it’s
just always gonna be that way and I accept that— until have a track-record,
I have to prove myself. The competition is tough. There are so many
talented female singers who are fighting for chart positions, radio play,
and awards. Shania doesn’t believe it’s getting too crowded, and
she certainly doesn’t feel as though there won’t be a place for her.
“I think there’s room for everybody. As long as there’s fans, and
as long as country music is popular, there’ll be room for all of us.
We’re all individuals. I feel—myself in particular—(I) might be a
little bit more individual than some other artists, (because) I write my
own material. I know a lot of females don’t do that, which I think
is unique. But I think everyone has their own niche.” Shania has
definitely found her own niche and she has plenty of faithful fans.
All the attention that goes along with being successful is something that
Shania is still getting used to. “It’s not that I don’t like being
recognized, but I’d rather not be… it’s a little embarrassing. I’m
a little shy that way,” she admits. “When I’m on stage and when I’m
on the radio, I hope everybody knows who I am, but when I’m in private,
I don’t want to be featured or praised in that way at all.” But there are
times when, try as she might to avoid it, she just can’t. “I was
in this clothing store once and this lady says “You’re Shania Twain,” she
relates. “And for some reason – it was a nervous reaction—I said,
‘No, I’m not.’ I lied! I said, ‘No you’ve made a mistake.’
And she said, ‘No I know you’re Shania Twain, I see you on TNN all the
time,’ and she started arguing with me. So of course I made a complete
fool of myself, and I had to admit that I was Shania Twain. But I’m
getting used to it know. When you’re in your private realm, you just
forget who you are. I don’t want to think I’m a star 24 hours a day.
That’s such a vain thing.” Even when she’s on stage, her attitude is the
same. Though she’s out there under the lights, and she is the main
attraction, she wants her audience to look at her differently. “I
have a lot of energy, I like to get it out on stage and rock, even though
it’s country music. I like to get out with the audience. If
you’re sitting in the front, you may end up on stage. I can’t go
through a show without bringing someone up on stage. I love it.
I’d bring everybody up if I could, ‘cause I want to party with them.
I don’t want to party by myself. I just have a great time when I
perform, and want everyone else to have a great time. It’s not like,
‘Everybody look at me, I’m a star.’ I feel like I’m just the hostess.”
Shania in Video
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