She had all the makings of pop immortality: overnight stardom, singing “Walkin’ After Midnight” on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts TV show, a string of pop and country hits (“She’s Got You,” “I Fall to Pieces” and the peerless heart crusher “Sweet Dreams”), a rowdy domestic life and the all-important early, violent death, in a plane crash when she was just 30. But Patsy Cline also had the goods: this woman could sing. Her bold contralto caught the pain and truth of a lyric without ever getting histrionic. “Oh, Lord,” she said, “I sing just like I hurt inside.” The way she transformed hurt into art made Cline the Callas of country.
She got “Crazy” from the young songwriter Willie Nelson and turned it into a seamless intersection of pop and country. Supported by Floyd Cramer’s tinkly piano and the unobtrusive harmonies of the Jordanaires, she poured her aches into the soul of a jilted lover who acts as her own shrink: “I’m crazy for tryin’ and crazy for cryin’/ And I’m crazy for loving you.” Singing like an angel with a broken heart, Cline would draw out a note until it was exhausted, then punctuate it with a catch in her throat that sounded like the small sob of a strong woman. It was literally that: she had broken ribs in a near fatal car accident and found pain in hitting the high notes. Suffering for her craft was just one thing that made Patsy Cline a pure country heroine.
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