Patsy Cline had probably never heard of a little-known songwriter called Hugh Nelson in 1961, but she would soon be thanking him for one of the songs of her life. On 23 October 1961, ‘Crazy’ made its debut on the Billboard Hot 100.
Cline and producer Owen Bradley had been looking for the track that would be her follow-up to her first country chart-topper ‘I Fall To Pieces.’ Bradley rearranged ‘Crazy’ as a ballad in her style, Cline recorded her interpretation just two months after a car crash that nearly killed her, and one of the most famous of all country songs was born.
Hugh Nelson would, of course, become known far and wide as Willie Nelson, and it was Cline’s recording of ‘Crazy’ that made that name. With his reputation established, his own version would appear the following year on the album …And Then I Wrote, along with other gems such as ‘Hello Walls’ and ‘Funny How Time Slips Away.’
‘Crazy’ debuted on the US pop chart at a confident No. 65, second only among the week’s new entries to Gary US Bonds’ new release, ‘School Is In.’ Cline’s single took just three weeks to make the top 20 and five to hit the top ten, peaking at No. 9. The song also raced to No. 2 on the country chart, but had to wait almost 30 years more to become a chart record in the UK, when a reissue took it to No. 14 early in 1991.
‘Crazy’ went on to be covered endlessly, by artists ranging from Kenny Rogers to Shirley Bassey, and also became a trademark song for the young LeAnn Rimes. One of the newest versions of it is by Neil Young, on his 2014 album A Letter Home. French vocal stylist (and former First Lady) Carla Bruni covers it, with Nelson, on her 2017 album French Touch. But the artist that will always own ‘Crazy’ is Patsy Cline.
‘Crazy’ is on The Very Best of Patsy Cline, which can be bought here.
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