Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Tanya Tucker, “Down to My Last Teardrop”

“Down to My Last Teardrop”

Tanya Tucker

Written by Paul Davis

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

August 30, 1991

Tanya Tucker returns with an energetic new sound.

The Road to No. 1

After starting the nineties with back-to-back No. 1 hits, Tucker found success with three more singles from Tennessee Woman (“Don’t Go Out (with T. Graham Brown)”, “It Won’t Be Me,” and “Oh What It Did to Me.”)  Tucker then previewed what would become her biggest selling studio album with a lead single that showcased a more aggressive sound than the hits that preceded it.

The No. 1

“Down to My Last Teardrop” is one of the rare Tanya Tucker records where the music lives up to the feisty and independent woman that Tanya Tucker is.

She sasses and growls her way through a kiss-off anthem that’s heartfelt in its commitment to moving on, but keeps its tongue firmly planted in its cheek with humorous and intelligent lyrics.

Tucker knows she has a great song, and she sings with a vibrancy that was often missing in her late eighties hits.  This new attitude on record would serve her well, kicking off the peak of her commercial success.

The Road From No. 1

The next three singles from What Do I Do With Me all went top five, starting with the title track, and then followed by “Some Kind of Trouble” and “If Your Heart Ain’t Busy Tonight.”  It became Tucker’s first platinum album, and it powered her to her 1991 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year win.  Her next album would keep the hits coming, and would include her final two chart-toppers. which will both come along in 1991.

“Down to My Last Teardrop” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. I still prefer Tanya Tucker’s hit songs from the 1970s, but this one indeed was a great, reinvigorating sound for her. I fully concur with the “A” rating.

  2. Love this song and Some Kind Of Trouble. Both very essential songs from my childhood. Its always funny to me how a 6 year old would love these songs he can’t relate to. We laugh all the time at work about Garths That Summer. We’re all 30 something’s who loved that song as kids. I joke often that while teeny boppers today have country party songs we had songs about cougars after younger men (that summer), prostitutes(fancy), alcoholics( little rock), and ppl getting murdered(the night the lights went out in georgia/ papa loved mama)! Glad I grew up when I did listening to this awesome music even though I didn’t understand half of it at the time. Haha

  3. One of my favorites of Tanya’s early 90’s singles! Such a great fun song from beginning to end. I really love the sound and production of this one, and that harmonica alone brings back some great childhood memories. Always loved Tanya’s sassy performance, as well. Oh, and it wasn’t until fairly recently that I finally got the cleverness of the line “I don’t care who or what you’re doin’.” lol.

    The What Do I Do With Me album is also one of my all time favorite Tanya Tucker albums, and it’s yet another early 90’s country album I fell in love with when I found a copy of it in the early 00’s. I’m actually quite surprised that none of the other singles made it to the top, as I remember them all getting quite a lot of airplay back in their time, and they each made it on at least one of my tapes. I’ve especially always loved the title track and “Some Kind Of Trouble.” Tanya just seemed to be on top of the world at the time with her winning Female Vocalist at the ’91 CMA’s and the overall success of this album era.

    Oh, and this is also another music video I love! Just like the song, it’s so fun and charming from beginning to end. Love all the early 90’s fashion and hairstyles!

    Trouble_With_The_Truth – Your comment is so spot on! I’m so glad I was lucky enough to have had these songs be the soundtrack of my childhood, despite not knowing what the lyrics really meant most of the time (I’ve always been a melody and sound person first and lyrics person second, anyway). Even though some of the songs had very adult lyrics, it was still music that my parents and I could all enjoy together as a family. Now, if I had any kids, I wouldn’t be comfortable letting them hear half or more of the stuff that’s on modern country radio.

  4. During this period of time, Tanya Tucker was the best of the female vocalists, producing some really classic songs. While I can barely remember the 90s output of Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, Tanya’s songs left a vivid impression

    • I love the singles from the trio of albums Tucker kicked off with this hit. But Rumor Has it/For My Broken Heart Reba wipes the floor with Tucker. If we are talking early nineties, she’s also matched or exceeded by the material of Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Carlene Carter, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Wynonna, Kathy Mattea, Suzy Bogguss, and Lorrie Morgan.

      Which isn’t a criticism of Tucker at all. She kept pace when the strongest crop of female artists in country music history arrived. I probably left a few of them off.

  5. Tucker certainly held her own musically with the upstart competition in the early 90’s. She brought veteran stability and confidence to the field of female performers. In sport, and music, it means so much for young stars to perform side-by-side with their idols. It anchors all the rising excitement and energy.

    I agree with Paul Dennis that Tucker’s songs have a special stickiness! They are not easily forgotten and they have aged so well.

    As for the side conversation about the age inappropriate content of these songs, I am a bit older at nearly 48 and remember the oddness of my loving Conway Twitty, Gene Watson, and Tammy Wynette songs as a kid. Always wondered what my mom thought I was doing spending so much time with this mature music.

    By the time country was booming in the nineties, I was able to write a country music column for my high school newspaper and actually not be ridiculed and mocked for it.

    Country was cool and Tucker was the leading lady of that moment!

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