Writer(s): Willie Nelson (see lyrics here)
Recorded: August 21, 1961
First Charted: October 9, 1961
Peak: 9 US, 13 CB, 9 GR, 11 HR, 2 AC, 2 CW, 14 UK, 56 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 22.73 video, 61.28 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Before Willie Nelson became one of country music’s top singers, he broke into the industry as a songwriter after “having tried everything from encyclopedia selling to hawking vacuum cleaners door-to-door.” HL After Faron Young took Nelson’s “Hello Walls” to the top of the country charts, seemingly everyone in town wanted a Willie song. Patsy Cline was looking for a follow-up to “I Fall to Pieces” which had potential to cross over to the pop charts. AC She loved his song “Funny How Time Slips Away,” but Billy Walker, whose relationship with Nelson went back to their Texas days, AC got to it first.
Cline was furious, but Willie and Billy thought her voice was perfect for another song Walker had demoed. AC When told the song title was “Crazy,” she shot back, “It sure is.” RS500 She was looking for the up-tempo fare she was more accustomed to singing. A slow-torch song was not what she had in mind. NPR Cline’s producer, Owen Bradley, was convinced of the song’s potential, believing it to be well suited to “her vocal talents and expressive style.” NPR
She was on crutches when she recorded the song. She had a fractured hip and near-fatal head injuries HL after she and her brother were in a head-on collision SS that threw her through the car’s windshield. HL “With a lush arrangement and understated backing vocals” RS500 from the Jordanaires alongside the “slow-burn sex appeal” RS500 she infused in the lyrics, she made the song her own. She recorded the vocal in one take TC for her “best-remembered performance.” HL It was “a perfect vehicle to showcase [her] poignant, heartbreaking voice and superb musicianship.” NRR It “bears the marks of Nelson’s idiosyncratic personality – it’s pop and jazz and western and not quite pure country.” TC
It became more than just Cline’s only top-10 pop hit and signature tune. Willie Nelson called it “the favorite of anything I ever wrote.” AC “The most enduringly popular ballad in country music history” SS is also the top jukebox single of all time. NPR It launched a new sound in country music called “countrypolitan” RS500 which gained popularity in the wake of rock and roll’s explosive success. NRR Sadly, Cline herself wouldn’t be around to see where country music was headed; she died in a plane crash in March 1963.
First posted 8/21/2011; last updated 4/14/2023.