Review: Pam Tillis, “Band In The Window”

band.jpgPam Tillis, “Band In The Window”

There are a lot of songs about Nashville, but they always seem to focus on the music industry, whether celebrating it (“16th Avenue”) or demonizing it (“Murder On Music Row.”) But what about those who carry on the traditions long left behind? The ones who saw Coal Miner’s Daughter and Sweet Dreams and still see downtown Nashville as the path to stardom?

Many times I’ve been in the bars and pubs that line Broadway, and yes, as you pass them by, you will see a band in the window. It’s hardly the fast path to a record deal these days, but the dreamers hold out hope as they belt out traditional country music without pretense or any presumption that you need to give ground to what’s hot on the radio. You sing it because it’s what you feel.

With “Band In The Window”, Pam Tillis has paid a long overdue tribute to those stubborn souls who “pour their heart out” when they sing, whether it’s the drummer who “lives for the music” and has “no shirt, no shoes, no job, no wife”, or the girl who’s “name’s Louise, but not Mandrell, she’s got 80’s hair and fringe all around her skirt.” How true every word of this song is, right down to the gawking tourists and the glorious past of country music is felt when you walk those streets. When the third verse claims that the ghost of Patsy Cline waltzed in and sang along to Louise belting out “Sweet Dreams”, it’s easy to believe it.

“Band In The Window” is the perfect introduction to RhineStoned, which just might be the best Pam Tillis album to date. It’s amazing that the woman who was once seen as country music’s prodigal daughter is now one of the fiercest guardians of the genre. Trust me when I tell you that as good as “Band In The Window” is, more than half of the rest of the album is better. Thank God for country music, and thank God that Pam Tillis is still making it.

Grade: A+

Listen: Band In The Window

Buy: Band In The Window


  1. I heard Pam perform his song on the Opry a few weeks ago, and I concur with Kevin’s assessment of the song. For me Pam Tillis has beeen a very hot and cold performer – some of her stuff I’ve liked a lot, some of it not at all, and I’ve generally found her albums to be very inconsistant

  2. Great review!

    And also thanks for the coverage on Pam. When you posted the info about her album, I posted it somewhere else to alert people of the upcoming album. I’m excited about it, and it shows of great going to an indie label can be.

  3. It’s a wonderful single, but I have to disagree somewhat with your (and Tillis’) characterization of the “bands in the windows.” Certainly, there are many wonderful artists like you describe and they make Nashville special, but it seems like there are an increasing number of bands that play nothing but “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Dixieland Delight” and then brag about how in tune they are with traditional country music. I can’t even hear “Folsom Prison Blues” anymore without thinking about the guy on lower Broadway who plays it three times a night because it’s the only thing he knows that everyone likes. This trend is especially obvious in the newer honkytonks that have grown up outside of the Broadway area. Perhaps things have changed since you lived in Nashville. I’m sure it’s been a while since Tillis frequented any of these establishments.

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