Stronger Than the Truth

Stronger Than the Truth

Over her four-decade career, Reba McEntire has made an indelible mark on country music. From being discovered at an Oklahoma rodeo—she sang the national anthem and caught the ear of actor-musician Red Steagall, who then signed her to Mercury Records—to her stints as a sitcom star and the go-to host of the Academy of Country Music Awards, she’s become one of the best-selling musicians of all time. No doubt she had some of this history in mind when recording Stronger Than the Truth, her 33rd (!) studio album—a back-to-roots affair that blends together honky-tonk, western swing, and other classic country sounds, presented with the same emotion that’s defined her biggest hits. “I wanted to make the kind of music that I had grown up performing, having fun with, dancing to,” Reba tells Apple Music. “It coulda been a triple album, we had so many great songs.” Reba walks us through every track to explain how each was created. “Swing All Night Long with You” “Sidney Cox wrote this song. The man I’m dating right now, Skeeter Lasuzzo, his wife passed away five years ago, and she was best friends with Sidney Cox's mother-in-law, so Sidney's mother-in-law sent this song to Skeeter and said, 'I don't know if Reba would be interested in this.' I fell in love with it immediately. You never know where a song is going to come from.” “Stronger Than the Truth” “'Stronger Than the Truth' was written by Hannah Blaylock and Autumn McEntire. Autumn happens to be my brother's oldest daughter, and she's been writing for a while, and performing a little bit, and I heard this song several years ago when they'd first written it. I kept it in my computer, and when I told Autumn it was going to be the title of the album, she was just thrilled to pieces.” “Storm in a Shot Glass” “It’s just a powerhouse song; it was so much fun to perform in the studio. I think we got it on the first take. The band had a blast with it. It’s just a fun, sassy song.” “Tammy Wynette Kind of Pain” “Of course it’s [co-written by] Brandy Clark. I'm a huge fan of hers. It’s the ultimate country song on this album—you can't get any sadder than singin’ a Tammy Wynette song. It's definitely women's turn to come to the forefront. And what they're bringing to the public right now is very heartfelt. We've been on a trend of feel-good music, but I think it needs to go back to a deeper emotional status, and I think that's what these ladies are bringing to the fans right now.” “Cactus in a Coffee Can” “I asked Buddy Cannon, my producer, 'Have you ever heard of a song called “Cactus in a Coffee Can”?' I sent it to him, and he said, 'I produced that for my daughter Melonie 10 years ago, and nothing ever happened to it.' And I said, 'I love it, let's do it.' Oh, and by the way, Melonie and Buddy are singing harmony on it.” “Your Heart” “It’s a such a different song for the album, with the hollow-body acoustic guitar and that Spanish feel. I love minor chords in a song.” “The Clown” “I'd had 'The Clown' for several years also, just waiting for the right time to record it. The video for this, you're in that restaurant with this woman when the guy says, 'Hey, I don't love you anymore.' She's looking for help from the waiter and he says, 'Well, is there anything else you need tonight?' It’s such a wonderful song.” “No U in Oklahoma” “Donna McSpadden is a good friend of mine from Chelsea, Oklahoma. Her husband, Clem McSpadden, was the one that let me sing the national anthem in the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City in 1974, which got me discovered. So Donna tells me one day, 'Reba, I got a great title for ya: “There’s No U in Oklahoma and That's OK with Me.”' And I said, 'Oh my gosh, Donna! That's hysterical!' So, we were on vacation together with Ronnie [Dunn], and he started playing around with it. The three of us kind of pieced it together at different times, but it worked out.” “The Bar's Getting Lower” “This is a song that you're either going to love or hate if you're a woman. You can relate to it, you're dreading that time, if it's going to happen to ya. But, oh my god, what a country song! I absolutely love this one!” “In His Mind” “'In His Mind' was an idea that I had that I sent to Liz Hengber and Tommy Lee James. Tommy Lee used to be in the band with me—he was guitar player and harmony singer—and Liz is a great writer. It’s just one of those sad songs. Life is going on, and he's oblivious to it. He's thinking that his ex is coming back to him, and she never will.” “Freedom” “You can take this song different ways. At first I thought it was a patriotic song, but it is the freedom of being alone, freedom from being mistreated in other relationships. And this woman singing has found a new love, a new relationship—'lovin' you feels like freedom.' The record label came in and listened to it and was just thrilled to pieces.” “You Never Gave Up on Me” “I was going to put it on my gospel album [2017’s Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope]. It didn't make that album, so when I was going through my computer listening to the songs that I had been holding, keeping, hoarding…I found it. I think the intent of the song was about God, but then when I wanted it for this album, I said, 'Who is the one person who has never given up on me?' And that's Momma. So this song I sang with Momma. I could only sing it one time. And I said, 'Buddy, do I need to do it again?' He said, 'No, no, no! You got a lot a heart and motion in there. That's perfect!'”

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