Alex Massie

Saturday Morning Country: Patsy Cline

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Dolly Parton is a lady and Emmylou Harris is a dame, but Patsy Cline was a broad. A rootin' tootin' bar-room broad as fond of cussin' as she was of a beer and a good time. You gotta have her in this series sooner, rather than later. Unusually for a singer, she'd hang out with the songwriters - including Harlan Howard, Willie Nelson and Roger Miller - at Tootsies Orchid Lounge in Nashville; equally unusually she'd thank them for writing the songs that made her famous. Nelson, of course, wrote Crazy, the song that became Cline's signature.

Her style evolved from cowboy hats and country dresses to cashmere and pearls. Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray, for instamce, was a song for surburban betrayal, not down-home country disappointment. But for all the country-pop crossover, the Cline was a country singer at heart. And what mattered, more than anything else, was the Voice. So here she is in an early performance at the Grand Ole Opry performing A Church, A Courtroom and then Goodbye:

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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