Editor’s note: Bob Paxman is a senior writer for Country Weekly. He recalls the life of the country singer Mindy McCready as she is laid to rest.
It’s been said, mostly by the uninformed, that Mindy McCready’s life was like a country song.
Not true. It was like someone’s idea of a country song, the one often cast as typical of the genre, laden with sadness and unspeakable loss.
Mindy McCready certainly endured struggles in her life, from addiction to failed relationships and the crowning blow of having her children removed from her care. But it should also be remembered that there once was a promise, a potential to become a star who made headlines based on merit and talent.
She made a glimmering debut in 1996 with “Ten Thousand Angels,” a single that cracked the Top 10 -- not an easy feat for a young female artist at a time when males dominated the charts. With her second release of that year, “Guys Do It All the Time,” Mindy was No. 1 before she even reached her 21st birthday. On top of that, her debut album, also titled Ten Thousand Angels, sold more than a million copies, a figure practically unheard of for new female country artists.
“Guys Do It All the Time” was seen as a song of female empowerment, a term Mindy likely would not have used. She saw the song as more of a humorous take on male chauvinist ways. She had a feistiness about her, to be sure, but she was pleased that women were given the reins to sing about subjects that were once off-limits.
“Women are being heard in a way that they were never allowed to before,” she told Country Weekly in 1997. “I think we’ve found that inner self-confidence that lets us be women and be proud of being women. We’re giving women out there the inspiration to do and say what they feel.”
But this outward expression of confidence was at odds with her vulnerability. At her core, Mindy was still an inexperienced artist whose youthful public performances were confined to singing in church in her Florida hometown and at local karaoke bars. She wanted stardom but was completely unprepared for all that it brought.
Observing Mindy at industry functions, it was evident that she was uncomfortable in crowds, though could be quite engaging in a one-one-one setting. She answered questions directly without a lot of the sidestepping or image-conscious caution that has become so frequent with today’s stars.
When her second album, “If I Don’t Stay the Night,” failed to match the sales of her debut album, Mindy was simply unable to handle the downturn. She clashed with her record label and soon, the bottom dropped out.
Her life at the beginning of the century was one of arrests, failed comebacks and tear-filled confessionals on reality and talk TV shows. For those who remember the smiling, attractive blonde with the sweet voice, Mindy’s unraveling became a sad sight.
But sadder still, especially as she is laid to rest today, is the story of promise unfulfilled.