Patsy Cline was one of the greatest singers of all time. She was born in 1932 in Winchester, Virginia and began performing at an early age. She was discovered by a nation of listeners on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show in 1956. From 1957 to 1962 she had a string of hits that made it to the top of the pop and country charts. Her magical voice, her perfect pitch and the beautiful phrasing that tied every note to a lyric, has become the stuff of legend, and deservedly so. Her life was tragically cut short at the age of thirty when the plane that was carrying her home crashed in the hills of western Tennessee.
The fact that she was recognized for her extraordinary talent during her lifetime is a gift as Patsy Cline left behind a rich legacy of treasures in the recordings she made. The Heart Of A Legend brings together twenty-two of her greatest songs in a double-CD set. The first CD, subtitled Songs of Love, features Cline's best-known love songs. Quite honestly, it is difficult to say whether these are some of the finest songs ever written, or if it is the fact that one of the world's best vocalists is singing them. I think it is a combination of the two. Willie Nelson's Crazy is a classic love song. In the hands of Patsy Cline it became one of the best recordings of all time. And I Fall to Pieces is as fresh and as moving today as it was when it hit No. 1 on the country charts in the early Sixties. I defy anyone to sit through a listening of Sweet Dreams (of You) without being moved in some way. The recording of this song is the perfect example of what Loretta Lynn called "the catch" in Cline's voice that pulls us in.
The second disc opens with one of Cline's best-known songs, Walkin' After Midnight. Backed by a country pedal steel guitar, the recording still holds power and a great sense of loneliness and poignancy. Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray is a song that has held up through the years as k d lang has frequently performed the song in concert. It is easy to see why she has been so taken with the song. The story is simple: first there is a pair of lovers sitting in a café. A third person shows up and walks away with the singer's man. Now the singer sits alone. Cline's powerful and emotional vocals turns what could have been a sappy soap opera of a story into great art. Her emotions rise and fall with every phrase. Her vulnerability is evident, but there is great strength and power in her voice.
Executive producers David Alter and Mick Stevanovich, with the aid of Jim Rabchuck on Disc 2, have worked wonders by reissuing the old 1960 era recordings, making them sound fresh and clean if not entirely new. The work that these three have done in bringing The Heart Of A Legend collection together is extraordinary. This quality recording will bring much of Cline's work to a new audience and a new generation of listeners. And, we can fall in love with Patsy Cline all over again.
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