My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Pam Tillis – ‘Put Yourself In My Place’

putyourselfinmyplaceWhen she cracked the Top 10 for the very first time with the Harlan Howard and Max D. Barnes penned “Don’t Tell Me What To Do”, Pam Tillis may have appeared to be an overnight success to many country fans who were unaware that she already had one pop album and several unsuccessful country singles under her belt. As far as those fans were concerned, her career began with her signing to Arista Records, which was then one of several labels that rushed to open a division in Nashville to cash in on country music’s resurgence in popularity. Pam’s first album for the label was Put Yourself In My Place, which appeared shortly after “Don’t Tell Me What To Do” had peaked at #5 on the Billboard country singles chart.

In many ways, Put Yourself In My Place, which was produced by Paul Worley and Ed Seay, was an album of second chances. It was a second chance for Pam after years of languishing in obscurity at Warner Bros., as well as for three of the album’s hit singles which had been previously recorded and had either been unsuccessful or had gone unreleased. “Don’t Tell Me What To Do” had originally been recorded by Marty Stuart under the title “I’ll Love You Forever (If I Want To)”, but the album for which it had been recorded had been shelved by Columbia and did not see the light of day until after Marty had found success on MCA, and the retitled song had become Pam’s breakthrough hit. Pam’s second single for Arista was a tune she co-wrote with Paul Overstreet. “One Of Those Things” had been released as a single by Warner Bros. in 1985 but had failed to chart. This time around it performed substantially better, landing at #6. It’s always been one of my favorite Pam Tillis songs, but it was excluded from her Greatest Hits album, which was released a few years later and doesn’t seem to be one of her better remembered songs today. “Maybe It Was Memphis”, which is probably Pam’s biggest and best-remembered hit, had also been previously recorded for Warner Bros., who had opted not to release it. The Arista version of the story of a steamy summer romantic encounter, soared to #3. It is one of the more progressive numbers on a largely traditional album.

In between “One Of Those Things” and “Maybe It Was Memphis”, the album’s title track was released as a single. The uptempo and energetic “Put Yourself In My Place” was written by Pam and Carl Jackson. Surprisingly it just missed the Top 10, peaking at #11. The album’s fifth and final single, the ultra-traditional and steel-guitar drenched “Blue Rose Is” was also a near miss, peaking at #21. It’s an excellent song, written by Pam with her then-husband Bob DiPiero and Jan Buckingham. I was, however, a little surprised when it became a single because it did seem a bit retro for country radio’s tastes, which were starting to drift back towards pop by 1992.

Among the album cuts, my favorites are the presumably semi-autobiographical “Melancholy Child”, which hints at a difficult childhood, “Draggin’ My Chains”, and the more contempoary “I’ve Seen Enough To Know”, a Tillis co-write with Radney Foster.

Put Yourself In My Place
reached #10 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and was certified gold for sales in excess of 500,000 units. Its importance to Pam’s career can not be overstated, for it allowed her to step out of the shadow of her famous father and to put to rest any lingering doubts about her commercial viability. It is her most consistent, most traditional and best album. Inexpensive copies are easy to find.

Grade: A

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6 responses to “Album Review: Pam Tillis – ‘Put Yourself In My Place’

  1. Michael A. July 8, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Great review, Razor. Definitely looking forward to Pam Tillis month!

  2. J.R. Journey July 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    This is a great album. For my money, Tillis’ best is Sweetheart’s Dance. But a valid case could be made for any of her first 3 Arista albums being her best

  3. Razor X July 8, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    The first time I ever heard of Pam Tillis was when I saw the video of “Don’t Tell Me What To Do” on TNN. I loved it but didn’t think it would become a big hit because I just liked it too much. I think it reached #1 on Radio & Records or Cashbox. When the album came out, I didn’t think that there was any way that the whole album could could compare to the quality of the lead single, but it did.

  4. the trouble with the truth July 8, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Love this album very much, its tied at #1 with Sweethearts Dance. The title track is one of my all time favorite Pam song.

  5. Paul W Dennis July 9, 2013 at 5:37 am

    I’ve always regarded this as her best album, mostly on the strength of the non-singles, although the released singles were excellent. I pull this one out occasionally and listen to it

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