The Legacy of Patsy Cline

Written by on July 27, 2023

The echo of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and George Strait‘s voices surrounds the open fields and bluebonnet patches of Texas. The lone star state has made many great country artists including George Jones, Tanya Tucker, Don Williams, Kris Kristofferson, and the list goes on. Nothing replaces the heart that comes from a Texan country singer, but my love for those simple sweet, sad twangy ballads began with a woman born in Virginia.

A recent trip to The Patsy Cline Museum in Nashville, Tennessee gave me a closer look into my favorite singer’s life. Above the Johnny Cash Museum, rooms filled with Cline’s special tokens line the walls.  

Courtesy of Michael Ochs Archive

Patsy Cline was born on September 8th, 1932, in Winchester Virginia. Virginia Patterson Hensley understood the hardships of life at an early age. Learning what it was to work hard for the things a person wanted in life was not a new concept to her. At 15, she began her endeavor in the country music world.

The young Patsy took her future into her own hands when she asked to audition at a local radio show. Cline began to sing on the local radio and would participate in talent shows. Patsy worked to help provide for her family, so a high school diploma was never attained but her success came in different ways. 

Courtesy of Universal Music Group Archives

Walkin’ After Midnight,” was the first song of Patsy’s that touched the country and pop charts in 1957. From that hit, she continued to perform on different shows. Soon her career fell slightly stagnant for a few years. But in 1960, she was made a member of the Grand Ole Opry and signed on with Decca.

Patsy’s voice was soon paired with the harmonies of The Jordanaires and “I Fall to Pieces,” was released. Brushing the precipice of death, she was in a car accident in 1961. As she rose back into good health, “I Fall to Pieces” rose on the country chart.

Soon it rose to #1 on the country chart, and on the pop chart, and gained much popularity. Patsy was one of the first country artists to make the bridge between country and pop. It was during this time that Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” was covered by her. “Crazy” became a #1 jukebox hit. Other songs such as, “She’s got you,” “You Belong to Me,” and “Strange,” show the versatility that Patsy created with the subtle mix of pop and country music.

Eventually, Patsy became a part of The Johnny Cash Show singing alongside artists like George Jones and Barbara Mandrell. Through the success and acknowledgment of the talent she possessed, she kept her family first. Patsy Cline was not only a musical beauty, but she was also a mother.

In the years 1958 to 1961, her children Julie and Randy were born. She held a very close relationship with her mother. The bond they shared could be shown in the glamorous, classy yet simple and modest pieces she wore during performances, made with the help of her mom. Patsy had a special soul filled with love, and the love poured out each time she sang. 

Courtesy of Walden S. Fabry Studios

“One of Country music’s darkest days,” March 5th, 1963, Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, and Hawkshaw Hawkins took their wings and left this world. In a devasting plane crash, Patsy’s voice was taken too soon.

Patsy Cline was the first female country artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame; she will always be one of the most influential women in country music.

An appreciation for the lovely voice and music this pretty lady left behind will never cease to exist. The irreplaceable and impeccable range, the pain, the sweet reminder that love can live forever, lives in the spirit of Patsy Cline’s voice. Patsy Cline is my special comfort on strange days, my sanity when I feel crazy, and a cure for loneliness when I walk alone.  

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