The Profile: As She Re-Recorded Her Older Hits, Reba McEntire Found Strength in Subtlety

Photo Courtesy Reba McEntire 1
Photo Courtesy Reba McEntire
Photo Courtesy Reba McEntire

Reba McEntire’s Revived Remixed Revisited box set arrived on October 8, containing a whopping 30 tracks across three discs. More than just a greatest hits package, the collection finds McEntire taking a whole new look at some of her most recognizable hits: Revisited presents a stripped-down version of the songs; Revived highlights new arrangements and puts an emphasis on how McEntire performs the songs during her live shows; and Remixed enlists producers from all ends of the music business to dream up dance versions of the familiar country tracks.

On Remixed, the production is upbeat and dazzling, an emphasis on the fast-paced entertainment value that McEntire has always delivered onstage. But on Revisited, the singer takes the opposite approach, presenting a more restrained and mature version of hits like “Consider Me Gone” and “New Fool at an Old Game.” That subtlety is one of the project’s biggest revelations.

Reba; Revived, Remixed, Revisited
Reba; Revived, Remixed, Revisited

“I think ‘Consider Me Gone’ would be that song,” McEntire recently told Country Now and other outlets, when asked which of the tracks mean more in their new iterations than they did when she initially recorded it.

“The first time I recorded it was….a few years ago,” she continued drily, “and it was in your face.

“The way we did it on the Revisited album, it was more kinda like, ‘Well, it didn’t work out. If I’m not the one thing you can’t stand to lose….well, then consider me gone,’” McEntire trailed off quietly, conveying the dejected mood of the new version. “It’s more of a mature version. I really did appreciate that a lot. I really did. So I’d say that was my favorite song off that album.”

McEntire worked with famed Nashville producer Dave Cobb to pare back the production on Revisited. She’d never met Cobb before, though she’d grown to be a fan of his work via albums by Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell, but she quickly realized that his personality was a perfect fit for helping her strip back her songs.

“He’s laidback, he’s easy to work with [and] he knows exactly what he wants from all the musicians in the studio,” she elaborates. “We took 10 songs and stripped ‘em down, so there were less instruments, but it was a laidback feel to where the song could breathe. The words came through. You got to take a breath with ‘em.”

That extra room to breathe turned out to be just what McEntire needed — literally.

“When we were recording these, I was out of shape! I mean, I didn’t have my lung capacity. Like, when you’re touring, you’re in shape and you can take long breaths,” she says of recording after a long break from the road. “So it was good that we did slow ‘em down, for me, frankly. Dave Cobb got a big kick out of that.”

It was also Cobb who helped come up with the vision for McEntire’s new “Does He Love You,” reimagined for this album as a duet with Dolly Parton. Extraordinarily, the two country legends had never once in their lengthy careers collaborated before now.

“It’s amazing that we’ve never done a duet. We’ve never sang together,” McEntire marvels. “I’ve gone on programs to sing for her, and she’s done that for me, but to never sing a song together is kinda weird!”

Now that they’ve ripped off that bandaid, though, there could be potential for more team-ups in the future, whether that might be a marquee live performance of “Does He Love You” or something else entirely. “I hope that happens, because I’d love to work with her,” McEntire says. “She’s a professional. She’s fun. She’s funny. She’s witty. I could sit and listen to her talk all day long.”

And she brought a gravitas to her vocal parts on “Does He Love You” that fit seamlessly into McEntire’s own, more mature, interpretations of her older songs. “We got to play-act like we were women at odds, and not liking each other, but by the end, we’re like, ‘Ah, you can have him. I don’t want him.’ So it was a lot of fun,” McEntire notes.

Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire; Photo Courtesy Reba

McEntire takes pride in saying that her fans are ages “two to 92,” and indeed, many of her fans have grown up with her catalogue, and her songs have changed and grown with them through each stage of life. That’s as true for the singer herself as it is for any of her listeners. Her songs are living, breathing things; they come across differently now that she has recorded them in a different era of life.

But the song that describes her current life stage, McEntire says, is one that she put out back in 2001 and used as the theme song for her Reba television sitcom.

“‘I’m a Survivor,’” McEntire says, laughingly noting that the song has recently seen a resurgence in popularity after becoming a viral TikTok trend.

“It’s been a wonderful journey. Personally, professionally. All the highs and lows. We’re all survivors. And I think that’s an anthem everybody should be proud of,” she continues. “We’ve had to deal with a lot. Especially during the [past] two years, year and a half. And we know we can get through this together.”

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