Mi Vida Loca! (My Crazy Life)

I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen Reba McEntire, Madonna, and Lady Gaga in concert many times.  However, life and geography have prevented me from seeing four more ladies that are on my concert wish list.  I still want to see Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John, and Lorrie Morgan.  Before Friday night, there was one more name on that list, Pam Tillis.

I can now say that I not only saw Pam Tillis in an intimate acoustic concert, but Ray and I got to meet her.  And, she is as sweet and delightful as I hoped she would be.

If you’ve been listening to country music for twenty years or more, you definitely know who Pam Tillis is.  If you’ve just become a country fan in the last decade, sadly, you may not have a clue who I’m talking about and that is very unfortunate.  You’re missing out on a true talent — a woman who can do it all –sing, play piano, and play guitar.

I was so happy to spend “An Acoustic Evening with Pam Tillis” at the Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf, Iowa, Friday night.

She played for more than an hour with just two other female musicians assisting her.  She shared many jokes and fun country music stories about fan encounters expressing their love for her as long as she didn’t tell Reba, and about another fan praising her because he had mistaken her for Patty Loveless.

Along with that, she played many of her biggest hits and even did a “hillbilly” version of the Beatles’, “I Want To Hold Your Hand”.  I was very surprised that she opened the show with “Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)” and “Shake The Sugar Tree”, two of her biggest chart hits.

Pam’s voice is as powerful and crisp today as it was in her radio heyday.  And, her humorous stories about an ex-boyfriend that she told to find a “dumber girlfriend” and her comment as she was slipping off her stool that it would not be pretty and that it would give away her “mystery” made me laugh.  So down home, honest, and personal.

Pam is the daughter of country music star Mel Tillis and she made her Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of eight.  In the 1980s, she released an album and put out nine singles for Warner Bros. with the biggest, “Those Memories of You”, peaking at #55.

A switch, in 1991, to a new record label, Arista Nashville, brought country music an incredible new talent.  Throughout the 1990s, Pam scored 22 Top 40 hits on the country chart.  Of that great accomplishment, 13 of those songs made the Top Ten and 10 of them making it all the way into the Top 5.

Pam had five hit singles from her first Arista album, “Put Yourself In My Place”, that went gold, moving more than 500,000 copies.  Her first Top 40 hit also became her first top ten and top five, “Don’t Tell Me What To Do” (#5, 1991).  The other top ten hits from the album were “One of Those Days” (#6, 1991) and “Maybe It Was Memphis” (#3, 1992).

The following year, Pam would release the follow-up album that would go platinum (one million copies).

The lead-off single, “Shake The Sugar Tree”, is still one of my favorites today.  It reached #3 on the country charts.

Pam had three more hits from that album, “Let That Pony Run” (#4), “Cleopatra, Queen of Denial” (#11), and “Do You Know Where Your Man Is? (#16).  While “Cleopatra” is so much fun to listen to and “Man” is so heartbreaking, my favorite Pam Tillis album was still to come.

In the spring of 1994 as I was leaving Kentucky to make my big move to Chicago, Pam released the  “Sweetheart’s Dance” album.

On the same day, Reba released “Read My Mind” and for a year, those two CDs played all the time in my apartment.

“Sweetheart’s Dance” could be called Pam’s signature album and not because it is my favorite.  Five singles were released from that album and four of them reached the top five!  The one song that missed the top five, “I Was Blown Away”, peaked at #16 because it was pulled from country radio out of respect for the victims in the Oklahoma City Bombing that spring.

One of the five hits from the album also became Pam’s first and only #1 country chart-toppers, “Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)”.

The radio hits from “Sweetheart’s Dance” were “Spilled Perfume” (#5), “When You Walk Into The Room” (#2), the aforementioned “Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life) (#1) and “I Was Blown Away (#16), and “In Between Dances” (#3).

In late 1995, Pam released her new album, “All Of This Love”, which went gold.  It produced two Top Ten hits, “Deep Down” (#6, 1996) and “The River and the Highway” (#8) and the #14 smash, “It’s Lonely Out There”, and this one which was ignored by country radio peaking at #62.  “Betty’s Got A Bass Boat” is still a fun song.

Pam would release her “Greatest Hits” album in 1997 and it generated two more top ten hits, which would be her last, “All The Good Ones Are Gone (#4) and “Land of the Living (#5).

Several more albums would be released.  Sadly, radio began cooling to Pam, just as its done to many of the best women in country music (Lorrie Morgan, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, and now, Reba).  Her final radio hit, “Please” stalled at #22 in 2001.

The nice thing is that lack of country radio airplay is not the end of the world.  In 2007, Pam started her own record label and is still putting out new music.

And, “Just In Time For Christmas”, a holiday collection was released in late 1997 and you can still get it today from Pam’s website.  Let’s get into the Christmas spirit now!

I’m so happy that I got to see Pam Tillis in concert.  She is such a delight.

The only thing that could have made the night “over the top” is that if it had been the “Grits & Glamour Tour” with Lorrie Morgan.

But, listening to just Pam sing was enough for me.  Okay, she wasn’t just singing to me.  It wasn’t that intimate.   There were others on hand for the concert.

Anthony

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