Her name is Eileen Regina Edwards. At the age of 26, she changed her name to Shania Twain. She did this to honor her step dad, an Ojibwa Native American. Shania’s name means “On My Way” in the Ojibwa Native American language. She couldn’t have selected a more fitting name. Shania is certainly on her way and has been for sometime.
It is certainly hard for me to believe that I had a part in helping Shania get started on her way. She was in Nashville looking for that one song that might get her a recording contract with a major label. She found it in a song I wrote for my dearest friend and devoted wife, Edna. The song, “You Lay a Whole Lot of Love on Me,” according to Shania, was instrumental in getting her recording contract with Mercury Nashville when she first arrived on the country music scene. I’m personally not a big fan of Shania’s singing; I’m more hard-core country. But I certainly have to say she shook up the county music world big time. Shania Twain is one in a million when it comes to entertainers. She has the writing and singing ability plus the superb performing talent necessary to become a superstar. Of course, the great body and looks don’t hurt either.
I remember the first time I saw Shania on CMT. I was at home laid up with a cold and was roaming through the TV channels looking for something to watch when I ran across this young lady singer belting out the song, “What Made You Say That” on a great looking video. I was mesmerized with the way she looked, moved, sang, and snugly fit into that long gown. I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, country is certainly moving up town.”
I had no idea whatsoever that my song was on that same video. A few days later I was roaming through the channels again and saw her on another portion of that video and a strange thing happened. I was thinking to myself, “I know that song.” Believe it or not, I called my wife Edna from the kitchen and showed her Shania for the first time. Edna shouted, “She’s doing our song.” Sure enough, it hit me like a ton of bricks: that’s the song I wrote for my baby. I thought, “They never tell me anything in Nashville.” You can pitch songs until you turn blue in the face, yet most of the time no one tells you of a cut until it is released and you hear it on radio or see it on TV.
We watched the rest of the video and then Edna got on the phone and found out what label she was on and where we could pick up a courtesy copy. Edna is a genius on the phone, and soon we knew Shania was on Mercury Nashville. We immediately jumped in the car and headed for Music Row. You would think since I wrote the song, and got the first cut on the song, and own half of the publishing on “You Lay A Whole Lot of Love on Me,” that Sony/Tree, who owns the other half of the publishing—that I granted to them and agreed to let them administrate the song—would have notified me of the Shania Twain cut. I don’t know why I should have expected that out of Sony/Tree. They have never in the 40 years we have been co-publishers with them notified me of anything. Oh well.
When we got up town, Edna returned from the Mercury Nashville office with Shania Twain’s complete video plus two video copies with just our song on them. We told a few friends of our good fortune and then returned to our home in Madison, Tennessee, just a few miles north of Music City, USA. We ate lunch and watched the video for the rest of the afternoon. We were getting to know this future superstar. However, to us she was just another struggling new artist we were enjoying that afternoon. We had seen so many come and go over the years, but I still believe Edna and I both knew that this young lady had that special something that the others didn’t possess.
We found out her address, wrote and thanked her for recording our song, told her a little about our love, how long we had been married, how I was inspired to write the song because of the love I have for my dear wife. She wrote back a nice letter praising our song and our dedication to our love and our marriage. She said she hoped one day to find and have that same kind of love. Later on she did find someone by the name of Mutt Lange, a British producer, and they did get married and she gave birth to a beautiful boy named Eja. When Shania was talking about their wedding on her VH1 video, our song, “You Lay a Whole Lot of Love on Me” was playing in the background. What a great honor. Very sorry to say though, their marriage lasted only 14 years. I have not heard much from Shania lately except that she has a new TV Show on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). We also know she has re-married.
I knew that Shania was a horse woman, and she had a favorite horse that I heard has since died, though of course, she had other horses besides him. Anyway, Edna and I saw this beautiful bridle and we looked at each other at the same time as if to say, “This is for Shania.” It had two silver circles on each side of the bridle that were each about the size of a silver dollar, so we had the title of our song, “You Lay a Whole Lot of Love on Me” engraved on each of them. We shipped it off to her by way of New York. She wrote us back a nice letter of thanks.
By Hank Beach