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July 13

Patsy Cline Almost Didn’t Record the song “Crazy”

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Did you know that Willie Nelson is the original writer of the song “Crazy”? Today, we’ll find out how Patsy Cline came to record this hit song.

He moved to Nashville from Texas in  1960, then, he was 27 years old, an ex-DJ and bar musician. He was obviously talented but his style was too offbeat and artsy for the charts.

“I enjoyed fooling around with the phrasing,” Willie has said, “but it made my sound noncommercial for all those Nashville ears who were listening for the same old stuff and misunderstood anything original.” Nelson also tended to write melodies that were more complex than the standard country fare. “I had problems immediately with my song ‘Crazy’ because it had four or five chords in it,” he recalled. “Not that ‘Crazy’ is real complicated; it just wasn’t your basic three-chord country hillbilly song.”

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Patsy Cline Almost Didn’t Record the song “Crazy” 1

At the age of 28, Patsy Cline had gotten her dream job as one of the casts of the Grand Ole Opry. From this point, she had already considered herself as a true country singer. “Crazy” wasn’t considered country enough by the standards of 1960 because it had a more bluesy feel to it. She actually preferred “Funny How Time Slips Away.”

Charlie Dick, Patsy’s husband, was the one who thought that the song was perfect for her. But he was also the reason she wouldn’t take the song. He discovered Hugh Nelson (Willy Nelson) in a jukebox. Charlie played the song over and over again to convince Patsy to record at least one of his songs. Right the next day, they got a demo from Hank Cochran singing “Crazy”. He was the song plugger for the publishing company Nelson was writing for. The next morning, Patsy Cline was sick of hearing about Willie Nelson. It was further followed by a sleepless night. She can hardly be persuaded to listen to the demo. In the meantime, Willie Nelson was waiting in the car and he was too afraid to come into the house.

Eventually, in 1961, Cline recorded “Crazy”. There is one problem though… Patsy had been in a serious car accident right before she recorded the song so she had problem hitting her high notes. Despite that, she still recorded the song in the studio, musical tracks laid down, and sang the song in one take. And that folks, is what we still hear today. It is considered as an incredible song by modern standards since most singers have many takes and even have their best notes intertwined to become a perfect recording.

“In addition to Patsy’s injury,” says Harold Bradley, the Country Music Hall of Fame guitarist and Owen’s brother, “the other thing that made this session hard was that my brother would refine the track as we went along.  There was no written music for ‘Crazy.’ So Owen would come out of the control room and say, ‘Why don’t you guys try this?’”

A month later, “Crazy became a smash hit. It was part of Music Reporter’s Top 30, C & W and Music Vender had it on its top charts. It reached no. 2 in Billboard‘s country chart and No. 9 pop.

Sadly, Patsy Cline died in 1961. She was just 31 years old. It was because of a plane crash. She was on her way home to Nashville on a rainy night. Until today, her “Greatest Hits” is still a best seller among the female artists.

Take a moment and listen to “Crazy” by Patsy Cline.

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