The Patsy Cline Story

Patsy Cline

MCA, 1963

REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk


Pasty Cline became a true phenomenon in the music business when she rose to stardom in the late ‘50s. At a time when female country stars were generally relegated to supporting acts for male stars, Cline routinely headlined her own tours. She was one of the first crossover stars, her singles regularly charting on country and multiple pop charts. Her success in the ‘50s was meteoric, but her recording career lasted less than a decade, and she released only three full length albums in her career. She became one of the best selling artists in the world in 1963-64, and fans clamored for her recordings in the wake of her tragic death. In the ‘80s, the biopic “Sweet Dreams” created another massive surge of popularity for Cline, and the supporting album became one of the top sellers of 1985.

Cline's plaintive voice was instantly unique, no one sang like she did. When asked how she sang, she replied, “I just sing like it hurts inside.” She was able to transcend the lyrics, even the simple ones, and make you feel the hurt. Her expressive voice marbled itself around the words in a way few singers did. She rarely sang it straight; she sang it real, from her heart. It's no secret that Patsy's life had its share of troubles, and you can feel her reaching down into her own well of emotion and pouring it out into the mic. Listen to one of her best, the forlorn “She's Got You.” When she sings the line, “I've your memory...or has it got me?” listen for the pregnant pause, the hesitation between the lines. Few singers at the time would have dared break from the standard delivery, but that simple inflection adds so much more than if she sang it straight. Her choice of songs was a critical element as well, and Cline was notoriously picky about what songs she chose. She initially refused to sing “Crazy,” her signature song, until it was completely rearranged. The songs she did pick were often picked to showcase her ability to evoke a depth of  anguish and hurt.“Why Can't He Be You You,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “I Fall To Pieces” are good examples.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Pasty Cline Story was released less than a year after her death in 1963, but it still stands today as one of the best compilations of the hundreds or so that have been put together. It nicely showcases her short career, featuring the standard hits and few lesser known tracks and pop standards. Her unique style is apparent here, as is the debt to her producer, Nashville legend Owen Bradley, who helped form her signature style. There are few of the standard foundations of country music: no fiddles or steel guitars to be found here. They were instead substituted with elements of pop and jazz, full string sections, bossa nova beats,  and other decidedly non-country elements, making Patsy's music a truly unique voice in the realms of both country and pop music.

This collection features twenty-four tracks, and of course, the signature songs are here: “Crazy,” “I Fall To Pieces, and her first hit “Walkin' After Midnight.” The inclusion of some pop standards of the day adds some color to the more well know tracks. “South Of The Border,” one of Sinatra's favorites, and “The Wayward Wind” are featured here, and they help show how the melding of pop elements helped create Cline’s singular style. A couple of country standards like “San Antonio Rose” and Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin' Heart” help anchor her in the county realm. There are larger and more comprehensive (and more expensive) box sets and compilations, but for a single disc, this is a sure thing for anyone who wants a great encapsulation of Patsy Cline’s short but brilliant career.

Rating: A

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© 2008 Bruce Rusk and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA, and is used for informational purposes only.