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Patsy Cline Songs, Ranked: 10 Classics That Can Get You Through Any Heartache

She was a shining light that went out too soon, but left an amazing musical legacy behind


When it comes to country legends, it’s hard to find one as revered as the beloved singer and trailblazer Patsy Cline. Even the female country music superstars of today hold Cline’s voice, character, charisma and kindness as the gold standard. The Voice coach and icon Reba McEntire has described Cline as “bigger than life,” while other country queens like Dolly Parton bow to the legend’s pipes and prowess, knowing that there will forever be something magical about Patsy Cline songs. “Her delivery was so special that people that did not care for country music at all loved that sound, because she had this mighty voice that was just heavenly,” Parton explained when Cline topped CMT’s 40 Greatest Women of Country list.

Singer LeAnn Rimes, who kick started her career with 1996’s “Blue,” a song reportedly earmarked for but never recorded by Cline, once told CBS News, “Her voice was so powerful and amazing. You can put her up against any artist now and she would blow a lot of those away. To come across a true singer like that doesn’t happen very often.”

Related: 12 Photos of Dolly Parton Young That Look NOTHING Like the Star We Know and Love

Portrait of Patsy Cline, 1950s
Portrait of Patsy Cline, 1950sMichael Ochs Archives/Getty

Patsy Cline’s exceptional life

“I just sing like I hurt inside. If you can’t do it with feeling, then don’t,” Cline once said of her passion for performing — and she sadly hurt a lot throughout her too-short career.

The trailblazing female vocalist — the first to ever wear pants on the Grand Ole Opry stage — had a near fatal car crash in 1961 that would’ve sidelined many. Remarkably, though, she was back out on the road just six months later, performing in Tulsa and telling the audience that if she had to, she would’ve crawled there!

Shortly after that, while still on crutches, Cline recorded what would arguably become her signature tune, “Crazy.” At that song’s Opry debut, she earned three enthusiastic standing ovations.

Tragedy would strike again in 1963 when a plane carrying Cline crashed, robbing the country world of a superstar who had just six short years to leave her mark — but what a mark she left. Her voice remains the gold standard to which every other female vocalist is still compared, as many in the industry will tell you, and Patsy Cline songs still give fans chills to this day.

Nobody can sing Patsy’s songs like Patsy,” the late, great Loretta Lynn — one of Cline’s closest friends — wrote in her memoir, Coal Miner’s Daughter. “She wasn’t just a person that sang. She had greatness and I think that came across in the little time that she was here.”

Related: A Look at Loretta Lynn’s 10 Greatest Hits and Lasting Legacy

Patsy Cline, late 1950s
Patsy Cline, late 1950sMichael Ochs Archives/Getty

10 greatest Patsy Cline songs, ranked

Read on to revisit some of the best and most timeless Patsy Cline songs that no country collection should be without.

10. “Walkin’ After Midnight” (1957)

Believe it or not, Cline wasn’t too fond of this tune when it was first offered to her. Luckily, she had a change of heart and it went on to reach No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart. She sang it during her Jan. 21, 1957, TV debut on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts and the audience response was so overwhelming — as legend has it — that the applause meter used to judge the acts actually froze!

9. “Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray” (1957)

Cline’s emotional vocals pack quite a punch, even when they’re restrained on this heartbreaking tune that boasts woeful lines such as “I watched her take him from me, now his love is no longer my own. Now they have gone and I sit alone, and watch one cigarette burn away.” This gem, penned by Eddie Miller and W.S. Stevenson, was also so brilliantly covered by k.d. lang in 1987 that it seemed to bring a tear to Johnny Carson’s eye after she performed it on his talk show.

8. “Lovesick Blues” (1960)

It doesn’t get much more country than this. Cline’s cover of this classic, which was written by Hank Williams in 1921 and went on to become one of his most iconic songs, beautifully showcases Cline’s personality and range. She definitely shows some flair and flexes her vocal talents as she adds some yodeling flourishes to this popular, bouncy number, which would be one of her last recordings for Decca Records.

7. “I Fall to Pieces” (1961)

Another tune that Cline reportedly didn’t take to right away, this melancholy track was a huge hit with fans, landing at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs. It even reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Penned by legendary songwriters Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard — and with The Jordanaires on backup — the song was produced by Owen Bradley, who helped define Cline’s signature crossover sound in the early ’60s. In 1994, Trisha Yearwood and Aaron Neville released a gorgeous cover of the track, which appeared on the cross-genre duets album Rhythm, Country and Blues.

Related: Trisha Yearwood Songs: 25 Hits That’ll lift You Up and Make Your Heart Soar

6. “She’s Got You” (1962)

Another winner written by Hank Cochran, “She’s Got You” finds Cline in familiar territory, crooning about a lost love and recalling all the items he’s left her with — his picture, his records, his class ring, even his memory — yet stumbling upon the cold hard truth that “I’ve got these little things, she’s got you.” It’s a sad but winning formula, proven by the fact the song shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot C&W Sides chart, while also hitting No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

5. “Crazy” (1961) Patsy Cline songs

This classic — written by Willie Nelson, a legend in his own right — will forever be associated with Cline, who recorded it not long after her near fatal car crash in June 1961. Producer Owen Bradley had to wait for her ribs to heal so she could hit all the notes as properly and powerfully as possible, and their patience paid off.

When she hit the studio, she nailed her timeless vocal in one take. “I remember I was pleasantly surprised at how great she did it, with how much feeling she did it,” Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires, who sang backup on the track, told NPR’s All Things Considered.

Related: Willie Nelson Songs: 15 of the Outlaw Country Icon’s Hits, Ranked

4. “Your Cheatin’ Heart” (1962) Patsy Cline songs

Cline put her spin on another Hank Williams tune for her third studio album, Sentimentally Yours, and not surprisingly it became another song that captivated listeners. Many fans remember it from 1985’s Sweet Dreams, a biopic that had Jessica Lange starring as the singer.

Though the soundtrack used new compositions for its songs, Cline’s vocals were overdubbed onto the updated orchestrations. The soundtrack hit No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, and also went all the way to No. 29 on the Billboard 200, proving that Cline’s crossover appeal was still strong.

3. “Back in Baby’s Arms” (1963)

This upbeat Bob Montgomery toe-tapper finds Cline’s spirits and vocals lifted as she gets to have some fun brushing off the bad times and focusing on sunny days ahead with some optimistic and romantic lyrics. “Now I’m back where I belong, and in my baby’s arms I’m gonna stay,” she coos over the bouncy instrumentals.

Even though it was originally a B side that never charted, its popularity landed it on the posthumously released Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits in 1967, which went 10x Platinum and sold over 2 million copies, a first for a female country artist. On Sept. 8, 2023, a special vinyl update version of the collection was released to honor what would’ve been the singer’s 91st birthday.

2. “Sweet Dreams (of You)” (1963) Patsy Cline songs

With a gorgeously cascading stringed intro and her trademark vocals sublimely delivering the melancholy lyrics of Don Gibson, this stunner would eventually go on to lend its name to the Hollywood biopic made of Patsy Cline’s life, music and premature death.

The vocals for “Sweet Dreams,” which are dripping with emotion, were recorded just one month before the ill-fated plane crash took Cline’s life, and the album it was meant to be on was never released, though the single was put out a month after her death. This classic “stands as arguably [Cline’s] greatest vocal achievement and an inspiration to generations of other singers,” according to Rolling Stone,

1. “Leavin’ on Your Mind” (1963)

Topping our list of Patsy Cline songs is one that reflects heartache on many levels. Sadly, when Cline released this single in January 1963, it would be her last before dying in a plane crash two months later. The lyrics, by Wayne Walker and Webb Pierce, have Cline telling a lover to rip the Band-Aid off if he’s planning on leaving her for someone new.

“Tell me now, get it over. Hurt me now, get it over. Don’t leave me here in a world filled with dreams that might have been.” Eerily, fans would soon mourn her loss, left forever wondering about all the future dreams and music that Cline would never live to share.

Keep reading for more classic country hits!

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