AOTY 2023
Patsy Cline - Showcase
Jul 23, 2020
The History of the Albums - n° 187

We often hear/read that Country was saved in the 50's thanks to the metamorphosis from the more traditional Tonky Honky to the invention of Nashville Sound. Created at RCA Victor, by Chet Atkins and his production team Owen Bradley, Steve Sholes, Bill Porter or Bob Ferguson and mainly pushed at the beginning by singer/musician Eddy Arnold, the Nashville Sound is surely one of the most important evolution of the Country genre in all its history. In 1957, Nashville Sound began to democratize itself with Don Gibson, Jim Reeves and then with the arrival of one of the "queens" of country music history: Patsy Cline. Although she tragically passed away in a plane crash in 1963 at the age of 30, ironically consolidating her legend, Patsy Cline is a remarkable, talented artist who not only left her mark on the genre, but more generally she is one of the best Country and Pop artists in the history of music. Patsy Cline has an incredible voice, particularly emotional. Even if it's incalculable, she has managed to mix traditional country music with pop, propelling the Nashville Sound in a way that no one else has, making this style a major influence even in the early days of country music.

Originally from Virginia and born in 1932, Patsy Cline did not have a tender childhood. On the contrary, she hid the fact that her father had sexually abused her, her mother was only 16 when she gave birth to her, her family didn't have much money and finally she almost died of a disease when she was just a teenager. Her passion for music came just a little later, when she started singing, first in church and then on the radio. Her father left home when she was 15 years old, forcing her to drop out of school and go to work because the family no longer had enough money to survive. Like her childhood and her sad disappearance, Patsy Cline's journey and career was a laborious one. In spite of her attempts, she often had to endure rejections and "failures". By dint of perseverance, little by little Pasty made a place for herself on television by performing. It is by this means that her career truly began. For example, while she managed to approach her first record companies, her first recordings/singles released on 4 Star Records and Coral were flops. It's true that she was still far from her best at the beginning, but constantly throughout her career as a living person, she has always received very mixed, mostly "negative" reviews. Yet she hasn't abdicated once again.

Too discreet and still too weak compared to the stars of the time, Decca believed in her. She had to wait until 1957 with her first hit Walkin After Midnight, when she didn't particularly appreciate her song, but her performance on a TV show allowed her to make a lot of light and later reach the second place in Billboard Country. In spite of her success and the image of her first eponymous album released the same year, she couldn't manage to reproduce such a good song. Her career will decline for almost 3 years, before she starts again by moving to Nashville. Patsy Cline surrounded herself with new people, including new producers, which allowed her to improve her songs and her interpretation. The Nashville Sound, which was now popularized and recently established, gave a new impetus to the artists who were in this niche, including Patsy Cline. Accompanied by the Jordanaires (Elvis Presley's singers), she recorded and released I Fall To Pieces in 1961 which not only allowed her to regain success, but also marked the most interesting and talented period of her career. I Fall To Pieces sounds both transformative and like she's finally found the magic formula. In June 1961, she escaped death again, due to a car accident. An important episode which will have important consequences on her person and on the continuation of her career.

Not fully recovered from her accident, Patsy Cline returned to duty around October 1961. Her production team strongly suggested (even insisted on convincing her) to record Crazy, her masterpiece, which she had initially refused. If there are a few things that can be blamed on her entire short career, it is the poor personal choices she made to refuse songs and sing those that were of little importance. Thankfully, in the sixties, Patsy Cline was lucky enough to be surrounded by good people like Owen Bradley. In spite of the great difficulties she encountered in recording Crazy, this masterpiece is not her greatest commercial success but it remains a very important and particularly delicious country pop song. Pushed by her 2 hits of the moment, Decca decided to produce and release her second album Showcase, which clearly remains a compilation of singles and B-sides, alternating between original songs and covers. Still today much criticized, with very mixed opinions about it, Showcase is for me a very underestimated album. It's true that it may seem too light, or even too deny, especially the more secondary songs, however this album still retains its authenticity. For the time and in spite of its flaws, Showcase was a visionary album in the sense that it had a lot of impact on future artists. And even today when we see a lot of contemporary country pop singers like Kacey Musgraves for example.

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