Ten years ago, on August 8, 2006, I wrote this piece about the wonderful Patsy Cline, whose life mirrored the songs she made part of the culture of country music. Back then, talent was enough, especially if your gift was your voice. There won't be another Patsy Cline.
I went through a Jimmy Buffett stage. I've got two favorites from that era of my life: Come Monday, which was a big hit and Miss You So Badly, which wasn't. Miss You So Badly was one of those love letter from the road type of ballads. The hook in that song for me came in the last verse:
I've got a head full of feeling higher
And an ear full of Patsy Cline.
There is just no one who can touch her
I hang on every line.
I'm no country music fan but Patsy Cline, in my amateur opinion, was the best female vocalist to ever come out of Nashville. There was a PBS special tonight featuring television clips of her singing, spliced with narrative between numbers. I was amazed. In today's entertainment culture, the management of image is everything and talent seems to run a distant second. Today's music icons have every minute detail of their performances scripted. This is what Patsy Cline did: she stood in front of a microphone and sang with a voice that would tear your heart out. She didn't need glitz and gimmicks- she had presence, which trumps what passes today as charisma. Her music bore the marks of emotional scars from divorce and physical scars from a near fatal car accident. The narrator remarked how recording sessions were often difficult as Patsy would weep as she invested so heavily in the lyrics that could have been her biography. Her biography had far too few chapters. As seems to have happened too often, Patsy and three others were killed in a small plane crash in Tennessee during the Spring of 1963. She was only thirty years old.
One great thing about these PBS in-depth programs is that you can glean information from interviews with friends of the subject that you don't find just by going to websites. There was one of those moments tonight. Two of her signature songs were Walkin' After Midnight and I Fall To Pieces, both of which turned into huge country hits. Strangely enough, she didn't like either song, believing they didn't fit the category of music which she sang best. It didn't matter- she made the songs work and made them successful despite her preferences. There's a lesson for us in her career. We limit ourselves to what we like and what we feel comfortable with. If an assignment doesn't quite jive with our evaluation of personal strengths, we make efforts to avoid involvement. In a spiritual sense, we may be called on to serve in areas where we have little interest or little talent. We stunt our growth when we rely only on our own preferences and the short-sighted assessment of our own gifts. If Patsy Cline had refused to record I Fall To Pieces, we would have been deprived of perhaps the greatest country song of all. She sang it in spite of misgivings and altered her musical legacy. Look what she did in spite of herself. Think what we can do, with the Lord's help, in spite of ourselves.
Applicable quote of the day:
"I got to be constantly assured that somebody loves me."
To see and hear Patsy perform I Fall To Pieces, please click below.
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