Saturday, February 19, 2011

Crazy - Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline

SONG - Crazy

WRITTEN BY - Willie Nelson

PERFORMED BY - Patsy Cline

APPEARS ON - Patsy Cline Showcase (1961)

I'm a huge Willie Nelson fan, and "Crazy" has always been one of my favorite Willie tunes. Not so much because Willie wrote it (although I think there's no arguing the fact that only he could have written this song), but because it was made immortal by the late, great Patsy Cline. Plenty of other people, including Willie, have recorded it - Linda Ronstadt, Julio Iglesias, Kenny Rogers, Dottie West, the Waifs, and LeAnn Rimes to name a few - but it's famous and beloved because Patsy Cline sang it.

The song is quirky; the lyrics describe the singer's state of bemusement at the singer's own helpless love for the object of his affection. And Willie Nelson's original arrangement was fast and somewhat jerky. The story goes that when it was first presented to Patsy Cline she hated it. But her producer, Owen Bradley, loved it, and to make it more palatable to Cline he arranged it as a much slower ballad. Despite Nelson's original arrangement, the complex melody was perfectly suited to Cline's vocal talents and style, and slowing it down brought that out. The public agreed; the song spent 21 weeks on the country music charts, it became Patsy's signature song, and it turned Willie Nelson from an unknown to one of the most prolific and sought-after songwriters in Nashville.


I'm crazy
Crazy for feeling so lonely
I'm crazy
Crazy for feeling so blue

I know
You'd love me as long as you wanted
Then someday
Leave me for somebody new


Why do I let myself worry
What in the world did I do

For thinking that my love could hold you
I'm crazy for crying
I'm crazy for trying
I'm crazy for loving you
Here's Patsy Cline's immortal version of the song:

Another fairly famous version is the one by LeAnn Rimes. I'm not particularly a Rimes fan, but her rendition of "Crazy" is pretty powerful. In a way it's her homage to Patsy Cline, who Rimes considers one of her major influences. This version is certainly respectful of Cline's classic interpretation while still letting Rimes show off some pretty impressive vocal chops.

And last is one of my favorite performances of "Crazy" - Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, and Willie Nelson live on stage. Krall's sultry voice certainly does things for this song, as does her usual outstanding piano playing. And it's no secret that Elvis Costello is a huge fan of American country music (he did a whole CD of George Jones songs, among other things); based on his performance here, I'd love to hear him do his own cover of the tune. This version is lots of fun!


  1. Very interesting. I wonder if it would have spent 21 weeks at the top or even have been popular at all if they kept it in Willie's original style?

    Nice post...classic song!

  2. Interesting contrast in vocal styles, especially if you throw in W Nelson's demo version, which is also on YouTube. Cline had such a pure, warm & melodic voice, but her phrasing is much more straight on than Nelson's or Krall's. Great song, great write-up.

  3. I was listening to Willie just this morning. Talk about a national treasure. I can't think of another performer who is a great songwriter and a great cover artist.

    I remember seeing him at Laurie Auditorium in San Antonio around 1974. I arrived early, and there he was in the lobby chatting with a friend. The guitar was beat up even then!

  4. Patsy`s version get deep into you soul with those long powerful notes...unmatched by anyone even by todays standards...I also like Willie Nelsons original version because you get to hear it from the writers endless keepsake!!!