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August 27, 2019 at 12:58 PM EDT
Mark Levine/ABC via Getty; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Miranda Lambert so reveres Tanya Tucker that, she admits, “I still get a little starstruck around her.” So the younger country star was bowled over when she heard the veteran’s cover of “The House That Built Me,” which was Lambert’s first number one hit back in 2010. Tucker’s version of the poignant track appears on the firebrand’s acclaimed new album While I’m Livin’, her first release of all new original material in 17 years, which was co-produced by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings.

In a recent interview with EW, Tucker admitted her own trepidation about recording the tune: “I really did not want to be caught loitering around that song because Miranda had taken it as far it can go. But Brandi talked me into it.”

“Brandi sent it to me right after they cut it,” says Lambert of Tucker’s take, which recasts the lyrics to reflect the point of view of a mother revisiting the house in which she raised her children. “Obviously, Tanya is a huge hero.” Indeed, one element of Tucker’s artistry — grittiness wrapped around a empathetic heart — was clearly an inspiration to Lambert, who has similar defiant streak and tough-but-tender approach in her music. (The pair also share a love of animals as evidenced by Tucker’s sweetly nostalgic video for the song.)

Lambert gives all props to veteran songwriters Allen Shamblin and Tom Douglas for the power of “The House That Built Me.” “I feel like I got handed such a gift when I found that song and I was so honored to cut it and to sing it every night,” she says. “And so the fact that it touched a legend and she would do it again, it just shows you that it’s one of those songs that will live forever, it’s a classic and I can’t take credit for that.”

(Shamblin and Douglas have had a hand in several beloved tracks, including Bonnie Raitt’s timeless tearjerker “I Can’t Make You Love Me” — co-written by Shamblin and Mike Reid — and the nostalgic “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” by Tim McGraw, which Douglas co-wrote with Jaren Johnston and Jeffrey Steele.)

“It’s fragile to me,” says Lambert of the tune, recounting a recent performance in Canada during which she got choked up and her husband asked her about it. “He was like, ‘Were you emotional?’ And I was. Even though I’ve been singing it for 10 years, I still sometimes just get teary-eyed. I hold it very close because it’s so special and to know that it’s going to just keep living, especially with Tanya cutting it, it’s crazy.”

Lambert herself is preparing for the release of her upcoming album Wildcard, out Nov. 1  from which she recently shared the hopeful track “Bluebird.”

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