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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Shania Twain

Shania Twain
Jason Merritty, Getty Images

Happy birthday to Shania Twain! OK, her birthday was actually on Sunday, August 28, but we've got a really good excuse for being late. Some of us were without power thanks to Hurricane Irene, so today we're wishing Twain a good year with a list of 10 things you probably didn't know about her.

It's hard to believe the country superstar is 46-years-old this year. There's no doubt she's the most successful female country artist of all time. Her fans are itching for her to make a recording comeback, but for now it seems the only gift she has for us is a Las Vegas show that doesn't begin until 2012. At the CMT Awards earlier this year, Twain boasted about feeling more confident than she had in years. So Shania, if you're reading this, happy birthday. Treat yourself by having a little you time in the recording studio.


10

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


 
 

In high school, Shania 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 calls french fries the only junk food she'll touch.

 
9

We probably won't be hearing 'You're Still the One' at her 2012 Las Vegas concerts.

 
 

Twain and former husband/producer Mutt Lange wrote the song in response to critics saying their marriage would never last. Less than a decade later, Lange's wandering eye proved to be the couple's undoing. It was the beginning of a dark time that Twain is unlikely to want to revisit.

 
8

Her stage fright once caused an embarrassing puddle.


 
 

In her new memoir, 'From This Moment On,' Twain admits she struggles with stage fright. In fact, she once wet her pants in school, 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, this one seems pretty minor.

 
7

She wanted to be a rock star.

 
 

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. Somehow this show convinced her boyfriend/manager that she should steer her music towards country. Nine months later, her 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.

 
6

She probably should have divorced Mutt Lange because of his nickname for her.

 
 

Mutt Lange used to call his wife "Woody." It was an affectionate nickname that derived from a hairdo Twain used to rock that reminded him of Woody Woodpecker. The producer was clearly the less physically gifted of the two, so perhaps he should have been a little more complimentary. "Goddess" or "Gorgeous" would have been more appropriate.

 
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."

 
4

Her record label asked her to change her last name.

 
 

Twain's birth name is Eilleen Regina Edwards, but her step-father, Jerry Twain, adopted her when she was 4-years-old. Mercury 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. It's difficult to imagine a country superstar named Eilleen, isn't it?

 
3

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. Doctors were lighting cigarettes for patients?

 
2

She's gone intergalactic.


 
 

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

 
1

Sean Penn was an early financial backer.

 
 

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

 

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