Tape of the Month Dec. ’22: The Patsy Cline Story

One more for the year!

Thank you for joining us once again, tape talkers and traders! How are you liking these ‘deep dives’? On our end, this new review series has been an absolute joy! Who wouldn’t love intently listening to music?! Oh, most people? Their loss.

This month we’re looking into something that we think of as totally appropriate for December, Christmas, New Year’s, and life in general! We’re talking about music legend Patsy Cline. Admittedly, we love old school country music and were excited to explore this compilation of tunes. However, Patsy Cline isn’t someone that we would have claimed to know much about. Anything outside of Walkin’ After Midnight or Crazy would have been considered off our radar. Please don’t judge us for it, we’re working endlessly to expand our musical horizons. And besides that we’ve judged ourselves pretty harshly, already.

Let’s get to work.

Patsy Cline – The Patsy Cline Story

(1988) Produced by Owen Bradley

Track listing:
Side A:
1. Heartaches
2. She’s Got You
3. Walkin’ After Midnight
4. Strange
5. Leavin’ on Your Mind
6. South of the Border (Mexico Way)
7. Foolin’ ‘Round
8. I Fall to Pieces
9. A Poor Man’s Roses (or a Rich Man’s Gold)
10. Tra Le La Le La Triangle
11. True Love
12. Imagine That

Side B:
1. Back in Baby’s Arms
2. Crazy
3. You’re Stronger Than Me
4. Seven Lonely Days
5. Sweet Dreams (of You)
6. Your Cheatin’ Heart
7. San Antonio Rose
8. Why Can’t He be You
9. The Wayward Wind
10. So Wrong
11. I Love You so Much it Hurts
12. You Belong to Me

Thus far, we’ve done a sort of literally walk through of each album. We’re not so sure that this will be appropriate this time around. Many of the songs sound the same and we don’t say that with any negativity. It’s okay to have a sound! We’re going to touch on the songs that we felt stood out in some way, but mainly we’d like to discuss the compilation itself.

This compilation comes from Decca/MCA and had been released originally on vinyl and then later on tape. The cassette we’ve been playing is dated 1988, but these songs were recorded in 1960, ’61, ’62, and ’63. Patsy Cline had previously been signed to Four Star Records, but recorded these songs after signing with Decca. Most of these songs were recorded for the first time, but some tracks had already been recorded with Four Star, and so they were re-recorded. In a not so distant past, the music business was a large and powerful industry. The composition of a song, the performance, the recording itself, and the publishing rights were all separate entities that someone (or some corporation) owned. We still see glimpses of this structure today when artists like Taylor Swift re-record their own material so that they can own their masters.

I’ve tried to clearly illustrate that up until now I was a very casual fan of Patsy Cline, but even I suspect that this generous 24 track collection is indeed a fair sampling of a legendary talent. Sure, it’s from the later years of her career, but that’s not to say it lacks any power. In fact, she was still a charting artist at this time. I wasn’t aware that her untimely death occurred in 1963, another supernatural talent taken too soon.

I also did not realize that Patsy Cline was purely a singer. A wildly talented and powerful one, but a singer, rather than a songwriter. Not to say that she was incapable or writing, but not one single track on this compilation was composed by Cline. However, when you take these Buck Owens, Hank Sr., and Willy Nelson penned tunes and pair them with vocal proficiency of this caliber: the end result is nothing less than spectacular. Another misconception we held regarding Patsy Cline was that she was a country artist. While it’s true that she sang country songs, she sang country songs in where the country and pop charts would have had a fair amount of overlap. You hear elements of country, pop, jazz, and blues mixed together to create beautiful ballads and bubble gum bouncers. She defined and transcended the genre.

This compilation gives you a glimpse into somewhat of a songbook of the time, almost like a time capsule. Songs like She’s Got You, Walkin’ After Midnight, and Fall to Pieces tell country flavored stories of love, loss, and romantic indecision. These are the kind of tunes you might expect to hear. However, the careful listener will hear elements that would become industry trends within the next few years. Foolin’ ‘Round for example, featuring a muted guitar scratching rhythm, which will meet the wah pedal within the next few years to completely revolutionize the instrument as well as the genres of rock, blues, funk, disco, reggae, etc. Other songs highlight more short lived trends of the period. South of the Border presents a semi-psuedo-Mexican flavor much like what you’d hear from Marty Robbins’ El Paso, or even The Drifters’ Under the Boardwalk. The hook or chorus for the song Triangle draws upon the style of vocable heavy 50’s pop like The Coasters’ Yakety Yak or even Bobby Day’s Rockin’ Robbin.

Through all the styles. Through all the various songwriters’ compositions. There are two constants at work. One is the beauty and power of the voice of Patsy Cline. The lady Elvis is a complete crooner and can weave her silky voice around the string arrangements and twangy guitars as well as your heart. The other is the quality performances behind her. The layers intermingle beautifully, the guitars are clean and crisp, the piano dances like snowfall in the wind. It’s a collection fundamentally well executed performances.

The Verdict:

This compilation is a joy. If you’re too young to have any memories involving these songs, spend an hour or so with them and appreciate the masterclass on tape. If you’re old enough that you, your parents, or grandparents were fans, take a hit of nostalgia: rediscover the magic of this music.

Respect, DJ O’K

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