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East Coast honky tonker looks west

By Jeffrey B. Remz, November 1998

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"It is therapy," Leigh says of songwriting. "You've go to want to tell them everything."

Leigh picked "Mixed Up Mess of a Heart" without knowing the Hag and Tommy Collins wrote it.

"I had an appointment set up to go over to listen to songs at Sony Tree (Publishing) for the record. John Van Meter was the man who pitched that song. Before he told me who wrote it, he said, 'I just want you to hear this song. I'm not going to tell you wrote it.' The lyrics were great, and the melody was something like Buck would do. Man, that song was killer."

"I had so much fun with that song."

"Touch Me" is an old Willie Nelson song given the Patsy treatment.

"We definitely put that on there to pay tribute to Willie, Buck Owens and, of course, Patsy Cline. I would consider that tribute to great traditional country music written lyrically, melodically. That's not synthesized strings or anything. That's a 15- piece orchestra sitting in the studio doing that."

Leigh also recorded "I Feel a Heartache," penned by Harlan Howard and Kostas.

"I'd heard it for years prior to cutting the record. The song was presented to me by a friend who works at Kostas. 'Oh I bet you that really sucks,'" she says sarcastically. "Good grief, you know it's going to be fantastic. I love shuffles, and that thing really stood out there on its own. Why are there so many of these songs that are so good that don't get cut?"

This has been a good year for Leigh for other reasons.

She helped write a song, "I Want to Feel That Way Again," which this fall landed in the Top 10 for Tracy Byrd.

"I'm absolutely floored at the success that song has had," says Leigh. "We wrote that song, I went in and did a demo on it. There are some songs I sing that just don't work. I think it comes from being so styled in one vein. There are some things I've sang that just sound like do-do. They sound bad."

She also played at Buck Owens' birthday bash at his Bakersfield, Cal. club.

"He heard the CD and somehow got word back to Decca that he loved it. My God, it's country. He invited me, Gary Allan and Shane Stockton to come out to his birthday bash and sing. We were all on stage and got to sing 'Tiger by the Tail' with Buck. You talk about amazing. I got to sing a solo song with the Buckaroos, and there's Buck Owens in the middle of the room staring at you."

Leigh intends to take Owens' words to heart when it comes to her career. "If I do him a favor and keep it country, I'll make him proud," Leigh says he told her. "That's hard to turn down, you know."

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