Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Remembering... Patsy Cline

When she was a little girl - born on this day in 1932 - Virginia Hensley just knew she was going to be famous, and looked up to stars like Judy Garland and Shirley Temple to show her the way...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThat little girl must have been on to something; as Patsy Cline, she not only changed the way the world looked at country music - thanks to the Nashville Sound, of which she was the most, er, vocal proponent - but also the way the country music industry's company town looked at its female performers. She would not be cheated, she would not be used, and she would not be forgotten. Despite the name, she used to like to say, she was 'nobody's patsy'.

From her first recordings in 1957 to her untimely death in a plane crash (aged only 30) in March 1963, Cline's rich voice, poignant phrasing, and populist sensibilities rendered her more than just a country singer, but as one of the foremost interpreters of popular music ever - in any genre.

Cline's earlier premonition about her fame had come true; a similar intuition- this time about her imminent mortality - did as well. Having survived two car crashes (the second, in June 1961, was nearly fatal) Cline told friends that her next accident would either finish her off or 'prove a charm'.

Alas, when the Piper Comanche in which she was flying crashed in March 1963, it did the former. In a way, too, it also did the latter. There's no doubt that, had she lived, Patsy Cline might still be singing away today at the age of 78, mentoring up-and-coming talent, and enjoying life as a living legend, although she likely wouldn't be resting on her laurels. Dying as she did, her voice haunts us still, calling to us in a rich contralto from a place that's not unlike immortality.
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