10 Things You Didn't Know About Shania Twain

Taste of Country
By Billy Dukes
October 10, 2019

There's no doubt about it: Shania Twain is the most successful female country artist of all time. Her 1998 release Come on Over is the biggest-selling country album ever, and as such, she ruled the late '90s with her blend of country and pop, and a live show that rivaled that of the biggest rockers.

As such, Twain's used to life in the spotlight — and her fans are used to knowing everything there is to know about her. A tragedy-filled childhood? Yes, we know about that. A messy, and very public, divorce? Check. A career that inspired countless others to pursue their dreams? The next generation of female artists can attest to that!

But do you know about the first song Twain ever wrote? Or her ex's (kinda awful, TBH) nickname for her? Or how she got her stage name? Read on to learn a few things you might not know about one of country music's biggest stars.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Shania Twain:

1. She once was asking, "Would you like fries with that?"

In high school, Twain no doubt uttered this phrase hundreds of times as she worked the counter at McDonald's. In 2002, she told Time magazine that she learned about the meaning of service while spending time beneath the golden arches. To this day, she says French fries are the only junk food she'll touch.

2. Her stage fright once caused an embarrassing puddle.

In her memoir From This Moment On, Twain admits that she struggles with stage fright; in fact, she once wet her pants in school because of it, but covered the mess by spilling a glass of water (''As far as the trumpet players on either side of me knew, the puddle ... was nothing more than H2O!'' Twain writes). On the list of things the singer has overcome, though, this one seems pretty minor.

3. She wanted to be a rockstar.

In the mid-'80s, Twain insisted that she wanted to be a pop or rock singer, not country. In early 1987, she performed at the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation with Bernadette Peters, and, somehow, this show convinced her boyfriend / manager at the time that she should steer her music toward country. Nine months later, however, Twain's parents were killed in a car accident, putting all of her musical ventures on hold. In a 2005 biography, writer Robin Eggars explains how Twain cared for her siblings until they were old enough to move out in the early '90s.

4. Her ex-husband's nickname for her was ... unfortunate.

Twain's ex, producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange, used to call her "Woody." It was an affectionate (if you say so!) nickname that derived from a hairdo Twain used to rock that reminded him of Woody Woodpecker.

5. She enjoys a "rugged existence."

McDonald's wasn't the only hands-on employment Twain knew growing up: She also worked for her father's reforestation business. "I loved the feeling of being stranded," she says in a 2005 biography. "I'm not afraid of being in my own environment, being physical, working hard. I was very strong, I walked miles and miles every day and carried heavy loads of trees. You can't shampoo, use soap or deodorant or makeup, nothing with any scent; you have to bathe and rinse your clothes in the lake. It was a very rugged existence, but I was very creative and I would sit alone in the forest with my dog and a guitar and would just write songs."

6. Her record label asked her to change her last name.

Twain's birth name is Eilleen Regina Edwards, but her stepfather, Jerry Twain, adopted her when she was 4 years old. Mercury Records didn't think Eilleen Twain flowed well, so they asked her to change her last name. Instead, she became Shania Twain professionally (Shania is Ojibwa for "I'm on my way"), although she's still known as Eilleen in personal circles.

7. She was presumed dead on arrival.

Twain shares that doctors gave up on her before she had a chance to take her first breath. In her memoir, she writes, ''While [Sharon, her mother] lies on the delivery table, the doctor quietly hands her a cigarette and lights it ... She's delivered a blue baby, stillborn. Except, miraculously, the baby girl is alive!'' That quote is also a glimpse into birthing rooms in the 1960s, where doctors were apparently lighting cigarettes for patients.

8. She's gone intergalactic.

Twain's song "Up!" has been used to wake up astronauts -- specifically, Canadian astronaut Dave Williams in 2007. That wasn't the first time a Twain song was blasted into the cosmos, though: In 2001, her hit "Honey, I'm Home" woke up members of the Space Shuttle Atlantis crew.

9. Sean Penn was an early financial backer.

Twain shares in her 2011 memoir that the actor had contacted her to direct the "Dance With the One That Brought You" video. The song, from Twain's 1993 self-titled album, didn't do much (it wasn't until two years later that "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?" became her first hit). It was only $100, but it came at a time the singer needed it most; still, ''I was embarrassed to receive a handout like that," she admits.

10. Her first song was for her mother.

Twain wrote her first song at the age of 10. She tells ABC that the tune was titled "Mama Won't You Come Out to Play," and it sounds ... well, pretty deep!

"My mother was always ... very isolating of herself," Twain shares. "I don't still really understand why. She's not alive anymore for me to ask her. I wish I could, but she was always that person that was watching life happen from inside through a window.

"My mother was ... sad a lot of the time, and really just didn't have the courage to get out and face life," she adds, "and so that's why I wrote that song."