Willie was a regular at Tootsie’s who had only arrived in Nashville the year before with a notebook full of songs that were destined to become country music standards. “Crazy,” or “Stupid” as it was originally titled, was written in early 1961. The title was changed after he began performing the song and got feedback from listeners as well as other songwriters. Willie wrote the song with Billy Walker in mind, but when he pitched the song, Walker turned it down for the same reason Roy Drusky turned down “I Fall to Pieces” written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard the previous year: “it was a girl’s song.” Willie recorded a demo of the song himself and loaded it on the jukebox at Tootsie’s in hopes that someone would hear it and want to record it.
Charlie wanted Patsy to hear the song immediately but was unable to find a copy of it anywhere. Later that week, he managed to track down Willie Nelson who gave him a copy of “Crazy.” He returned home and played it for Patsy who was not impressed. She did not like the way Nelson’s demo “spoke” the lyrics ahead of and behind the beat, stating that she “couldn’t sing like that.” Dick continued playing the song into the night, trying to change her mind. An annoyed Cline remarked that, “I don’t care what you say. I don’t like it and I ain’t gonna record it. And that’s that.”
Charlie Dick irritated his wife by playing the song so much that she didn’t even want to hear Willie Nelson’s name mentioned. Several days later, Willie and fellow Pamper Music writer Hank Cochran came to her house with another demo of the song on tape. After being told of Patsy’s reaction to the song, Willie refused to go inside. He hid in the car until Cline went out to retrieve “that little son of a bitch” herself.
Unable to change her mind, Dick took the demo to Cline’s producer Owen Bradley who loved the song and thought its complex melody suited Cline’s vocal talent perfectly. He also saw the potential to do something special and innovative on the production side with its jazz based chord changes and musical structure. He agreed to assist Dick in persuading Patsy to record “Crazy” and scheduled a recording session for August 17th.
Cline was still recovering from a horrific car crash that nearly took her life just two months before the session. The accident left her hospitalized in critical condition after being thrown through the windshield of her car. While they were successful in convincing her to record “Crazy”, broken ribs made it difficult for her to hit the high notes of the song. Bradley sent her home to rest and continued working on the song with just the studio musicians. While that’s not out of the ordinary by today’s standards, at a time when four songs were recorded in a typical four hour session, it was incredible attention to detail.
A few days later, on August 21, she recorded the lead vocal in one take while standing on crutches.
“Crazy” would go on to become Patsy Cline’s biggest hit and a country music standard. The song expanded the crossover audience she had established with her prior hits. The single was released in November of 1961 and stayed on the charts for 21 weeks, peaking at #9 on the pop charts and #2 on the country charts with Leroy Van Dyke’s “Walk On By” keeping it from ever attaining the #1 spot.
It was included on her second studio LP “Patsy Cline Showcase” also released by Decca Records on November 27th. The album featured both major hits from that year and re-recorded versions of “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “A Poor Man’s Roses (Or a Rich Man’s Gold).” According to the Amusement And Music Operators Association, “Crazy” was the most-played song on jukeboxes of all-time.
Willie Nelson stated that PATSY Cline’s version of “Crazy” was his favorite song of his that anybody has recorded because it “was a lot of magic”.
She died in a plane crash two years later. She was 30 years old.