Updated: Jun 3
With Old Town Road reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100,, many music commentators have wondered, if the country music industry should embrace a dialogue between Hip hop, and Country Music that was first ignited in the 80's by the likes of Sir Mix-A-Lot, and The Bellamy Brothers.
Regardless, Old Town Road was not the first genre-bending song our industry has played host to. As a matter of fact, one of my all-time favorite stylists Patsy Cline had one of her biggest hits with a genre-defying song written by a barely 20 year old unknown. Willie Nelson, at the time, was a struggling country music songwriter, with some minor hits like Hello Walls, and Funny How Time Slips Away . Willie got his first "big" break when Patsy recorded Crazy in 1961.
As the story goes, the original name of the song was Stupid. Willie, bless his heart, tried to sell the song to Country Singer Billy Walker who refused, and then to Larry Butler for $10.00!! Fortunately for Patsy, Larry also refused the song. Owen Bradley, and Patsy's hubby: Charlie Dick loved the song, and persuaded Patsy to record it. Two months prior to recording the song, Patsy was thrown through a windshield in a near fatal car accident. The session musicians recorded their parts without Patsy Cline, due to her injuries. Two weeks later, she recorded her vocals.
Genre-bending: the song is a jazzy pop tune with some country undertones. Owen Bradly was trying to create a new genre that could compete with rock-n-roll's rising popularity. At the time, country music was transitioning from rural acoustic folk music to a more polished country, and western swing sound. Crazy reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #2 on the Easy Listening, and Hot Country Song charts. Though the song has been covered by countless artists including Dottie West, Linda Ronstandt, and Ray Price, only Patsy's version was a success in the U.S.
Crazy is the most played song on jukeboxes, with Bob Segar's Old Time Rock & Roll in a close second. Most recently, it was re-recorded by Tami Nelson, and can be heard in the closing credits of the Brokenwood Mysteries Dark Angel episode.
Patsy Cline Crazy
The friendship between country music, and other genres has existed for nearly a century. It will continue to forge new partnerships as more artists create their version of three chords, and the truth. It's more important now than ever before to remember country music's roots, and rich culture. It's impact on society, and significance in American history cannot be overstated. It's rather "stupid" to think a tree can continue to stand when you cut all of its roots.
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