Top 10 Patsy Cline Songs
In the eight short years that Patsy Cline recorded music, she left behind a catalog of timeless classics that will always be sung, and a voice that will continue to influence artist of all genres and generations.
It spoke volumes when the First Lady of country music, Tammy Wynette, said this quote in the liner notes of ‘The Patsy Cline Collection': “In the cotton fields of Mississippi, I would daydream about being Patsy Cline. Patsy is and perhaps will always be the standard bearer for all female country singers.” This list represents the songs that have become standards in the American Songbook, like ‘Crazy’ and ‘She’s Got You,’ along with ‘Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray’ and ‘Back in Baby’s Arms’ -- tunes that were not radio hits, but beloved fan favorites. We hope you enjoy our trip down memory lane with the Top 10 Patsy Cline Songs.
In 1957, after Patsy Cline had become a success on Arther Godfrey’s talent scouts, Decca records scheduled as many sessions for Cline in that single year as she’d had in her prior two years of recording. Although none of these songs charted as radio hits, ‘Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray’ became a fan favorite and a favorite scene in the musical ‘Always…Patsy Cline.’ This rare gem is a great way to remember the Gore, Virginia native on our list of the Top 10 Patsy Cline songs.
Released six months after her death, Cline’s version of the Bob Wills classic ‘Faded Love’ became an instant smash. The ache and cry in her voice was the reason that many singers, like Reba McEntire, were influenced by her music. McEntire stated in the liner notes of the official Patsy Cline box set: “Patsy taught me emotion: raw, unashamed, and sincere.” This is also the reason that CMT ranked Patsy Cline at No. 1 on their list of the 40 Greatest Women of Country Music.
‘Back in Baby’s Arms’ was another Patsy Cline recording that did not chart, however the tune is included on Patsy Cline’s ‘Greatest Hits’ collection released in 1967 and re-released in 1988. Eventually, this album was certified diamond status by the RIAA, designating the sale of 10 million copies, and at the same time, the album was given the award of Longest-Charting Title by a Female Artist of any music genre in history in the 2005 edition of the Guiness Book of World Records.
Surprisingly, 17 years after her death, Patsy Cline’s version of the Irving Berlin classic broke the Top 20 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. The song was originally recorded in 1963 in the same session as ‘Sweet Dreams (of You)’ and ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky.’ Re-arranged with modern studio musicians and background vocals, the song would later become the title of the musical based on the life of Pasty Cline, produced by Ted Swindley in 1993.
In 1963, Patsy Cline’s career was at its peak. After dozens of failed records -- with two recorded under her real name of Virginia Hensley -- the feisty country girl finally hit the top. After the success of ‘I Fall to Pieces’ ‘Crazy’ and ‘She’s Got You,’ Cline was in the middle of a streak of hits when she released ‘Leavin’ on Your Mind.’ The single soared to the Top 10 in February of 1963, less than one month before her untimely death in a plane crash.
In 1960, Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard composed ‘I Fall to Pieces.’ The tune was already rejected by Brenda Lee and Roy Drusky when they brought it in to Pasty Cline’s producer, Owen Bradley. Bradley persuaded Cline, who also didn’t care for the song, to cut it. Radio stations were also slow to add the record, but with the help of promotions man Pat Nelson, the song became a hit station by station. With ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’ only peaking at No. 2, ‘I Fall to Pieces’ has the distinction of becoming Pasty Cline’s first No .1 record on the Billboard Country Singles chart.
Unlike many of the other stories behind the hits Patsy Cline recorded, it seems that everyone loved ‘She’s Got You’ right from the start. Penned by Hank Cochran, Patsy Cline and company needed no convincing to cut this smooth, sensitive story song. After the recording session, Cline took some much needed time off from a busy year that saw the birth of her child, to a near fatal car crash, to the success of playing Carnegie Hall and scoring her first No. 1 hit with ‘I Fall to Pieces.’ When released in 1962, ‘She’s Got You’ became Cline’s second No. 1 hit.
Patsy Cline had been recording for small record labels since 1954 with very little success. Then, in 1957, her career shot to a national level thanks to an appearance on CBS’ 'Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts.' After Cline froze the applause meters, Godfrey stated “There is surely stardust on you.” In the wake of her successful performance of ‘Walkin’ After Midnight,’ the record was immediately released and the song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. Although Cline shunned the song at first, saying it was “nothin’ but a little ol’ pop song,” the tune is a must on our list of the Top 10 Patsy Cline songs.
At 27, Willie Nelson landed his first No. 1 record as a songwriter on Faron Young’s ‘Hello Walls.’ At the time, he was one of the hottest songwriters in Nashville. When Patsy Cline heard Billy Walker singing another Nelson song, ‘Funny How Time Slips Away,’ she asked for permission to record the song. However, Walker wouldn’t part with it and offered her another Nelson composition titled ‘Crazy.’ With Floyd Cramer at the piano, Grady Martin guitar and Jordanaires behind her, Cline recorded what would become a treasure in the Great American Songbook.
Originally recorded by Faron Young in 1956, Pasty Cline and producer Owen Bradley took a different twist on this Don Gibson composition. The recording was a perfect fit for Cline’s soothing voice, gently soaring above lush orchestration and the angelic sounds of the Jordanaires. Ironically, the song was recorded exactly one month before her death in 1963. The single peaked at No. 5 two months after her death. The song helped immortalize the Country Music Hall of Famer as the title of the film of her life, starring Jessica Lange.