Thursday, July 16, 2009

Patsy Cline

It was at the then new Sir William Stephenson branch of the Winnipeg Public Library that I found The Patsy Cline Collection. It’s huge really, and so I saved a custom selection of tracks. Elsewhere I have the whole thing. That’s for later. But all 13 of her hits are here.

This is a whole other world, this music. I don’t know how anyone ever had pizzazz to sing country music after listening to Patsy Cline. It’s nothing I grew up with; I just listened to top 40, pop, R&B etc. But that’s where the web comes in. My friend, whom I’ve never met face to face, well she lives in the south, and grew up hearing this stuff all the time. She says my mama used to listen to this.

So pal, lets go walkin…. After midniiiiight…

Patsy Cline:

Walkin’ After Midnight – This song is about walking and about midnight. It’s about being in the dark, it’s about finding your way in the dark, it’s about how there is one kind of darkness and another kind of darkness, it’s about how the same environment can be so radically different given the context, it’s about solitude, it’s about unrealistic hopes, it’s about dreams that sustain us. The song walks, the rhythm, you’d know the song was about walking even if you didn’t understand a word. It was a monumental achievement that has challenged generations of country singers. Kellie Pickler, eat your heart out. A number 1 hit on the country charts, the songs reached number 12 on Billboard pop in the winter of 1957.
A Poor Man’s Roses (A Rich Man’s Gold) – This dissertation on the relative merits of wealth vs. love was the B side of Walkin’ After Midnight, and it was a country hit in its own right. On the pop charts it was a hit for Patti Page. Thing is, a poor man can’t afford roses either.
Try Again – A song of encouragement to the broken hearted.
Hungry For Love – A song of separation and longing.
Just Out Of Reach – A hit in 1960 for Solomon Burke, recorded also by Brenda Lee and Percy Sledge.
I’m Moving Along – Not to be confused with I’m Moving On by Hank Snow, Patsy was moving much slower, but in fact it’s about not getting stuck, counting your losses, brushing yourself off, and moving on.
Got A Lot Of Rhythm In My Soul – Here Patsy comes out swinging. There are different kinds of rhythm, and while the ostensible subject of the song is music, well… From 1959.
There He Goes – A hit for Jerry Wallace as There She Goes. A song about being bad and regretting it.
I Fall To Pieces – A song about a relationship with the temperature turned down. “You want me to act like we’ve never kissed” sings Patsy, with a controlled voice that sounds on the verge of, well, falling to pieces. One of her great records, this was a hit in the fall of 1961 – no surprise, number 1 on the country charts.
True Love – Well the subject doesn’t get more basic.
Crazy – It is the denial of the validity of one’s emotions that she’s singing about here. I’m crazy for feeling this way. Nothing there that a good therapist can’t fix. But ah, if only it were that simple… This was Patsy’s only top 10 hit, and that was late in 1961.
Who Can I Count On – Just when you thought you knew who was who. This was the B side of Crazy and it was a hit in the fall of 1961. It had been done previously by Eddie Cochran.
I Love You So Much It Hurts – It’s not supposed to hurt. Something is wrong here. But she knows that.
South Of The Border (Down Mexico Way) – Another Mexican tale.
Strange – Another love song. With classic understatement, Patsy describes the events that tell of the imploding of relationship as “strange.” From the winter of 1962 and this was the B side of She’s Got You.
You’re Stronger Than Me – The emotional inequities in a relationship. This is from 1962.
She’s Got You – How much investment one has in a relationship, how that investment manifests itself in physical things, in memories, in feelings. How it stings when the relationship is done. From the winter of 1962.
You Made Me Love You – A standard from, like, the 30s. Nilsson did a great version of this.
You Belong To Me – Another great. The longing and wistful quality of her voice on this is what made Patsy Cline Patsy Cline. It the Duprees who put this on the chart, but nobody could do it like Patsy.
Heartaches – This was kind of standard. The Ames Brothers did it; so did The Marcels. This version was a hit in the fall of 1962.
Your Cheatin’ Heart – The Hank Williams classic. Patsy was competing with Elvis, with Ray Charles, with Frankie Laine, but nobody was better suited to cover this song.
That’s My Desire – Another standard. Recorded by Frankie Laine, and by Dion & The Belmonts.
Half As Much – Another Hank Williams song, one that had been a hit for Rosemary Clooney.
I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You) – Hank again.
When I Get Thru With You (You’ll Love Me Too) – There’s a competition here, and it’s not clear whether she is stealing another girl’s guy, whether he’s hers already but he’s straying, or what.
Imagine That – The B side of When I Get Thru With You, another song of longing.
So Wrong
Why Can’t He Be You – Ouch. This is the opposite of Love The One Your With in a way. This was the B side of Heartaches, and it actually reached number 107 on the top 100. Don’t ask.
Leavin’ On Your Mind – From the winter of 1963. This is where the collaboration between Patsy Cline and Own Bradley shines. She sings her heart out, understated as always, and Bradley adds just the right combo of strings, chorus, Floyd Cramer soundalike piano, and the result can’t be described. No man, you gotta hear it…
Back In Baby’s Arms – It’s nice to hear her sing a happy song, but there’s still that melancholy quality in the voice, subtle it is, but all the pizzicato in the world can’t change it.
Faded Love – Patsy waxes nostalgic for “our faded love.” A bit of strange way to put it. A hit from the fall of 1963, by which time Patsy Cline had been dead for just over half a year.
Someday – Vaughn Monroe did this. But he didn’t have that longing in his voice…
Sweet Dreams (Of You) – How sad this is. I should hate you, she sings. From the summer of 1963.
Always – Irving Berlin wrote this. There are dozens of versions, maybe hundreds, and my favourite is by Harry Nilsson. Or not. Maybe this one’s my favourite. Maybe. Sorry Harry…
He Called Me Baby – I bet could he couldn’t pronounce Patsy. Another song of longing…

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