“The Woman Before Me”
Written by Jude Johnstone
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
June 5, 1992
Country music’s first platinum debut female artist earns her second No. 1 hit.
The Road to No. 1
With “She’s in Love With the Boy,” Trisha Yearwood had already become the first female country artist since Connie Smith to top the charts with a debut single. Two more top ten hits followed from her debut album, Trisha Yearwood: “Like We Never Had a Broken Heart” and “That’s What I Like About You.” MCA closed out the album with “The Woman Before Me, ” which became Yearwood’s second No. 1 single.
The No. 1
Yearwood’s strong ear for material served her well from early on. Jude Johnstone would be responsible for the title track of Yearwood’s stunning sophomore set, but she earned the most Yearwood royalties off of this song, which was originally being pitched to male artists as “The Fella Before Me.”
The merciful gender switch and innocence of Yearwood’s vocal performance work well together. This doesn’t have the depth or sharp melancholy of her later ballads, but that works to her advantage here, as it’s difficult to imagine her being quite this earnest about being blamed for the failings of the last lover on her later records.
The Road From No. 1
Trisha Yearwood became the first debut album by a female country artist to be certified platinum, and would eventually be certified double platinum. Yearwood and her producer, Garth Fundis, had been told there would be a fifth single, which they hoped would be “Lonesome Dove.” Plans changed when MCA wanted to capitalize on her popularity by having her second album out for the fall of 1992.
The album wasn’t finished by the time they picked the first single, choosing “Wrong Side of Memphis” over “You Say You Will,” even though it didn’t have its fiddle track laid down yet when the label heard it. It went top five, as did its follow-up, “Walkaway Joe,” which featured harmonies from Don Henley.
Hearts in Armor received rave reviews and sold well, but it didn’t have the same success at radio as her debut album, with its third and fourth single both falling short of the Billboard top ten. Yearwood would return to the top of the singles chart in late 1993, with the lead single from her third studio set.
“The Woman Before Me” gets a B+.
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