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I-95 South EXT 49B to 695 and I-70 West, near Baltimore, Maryland
Upcoming Exit 49b is an innocuous number for a major crossroads. Imagine that from this point in the highway you can pretty much go anywhere in North America. You can drive to California, to Florida to Alaska or to steamy Mexico. The road promises infinite possibilities. Starting here on I-95, Interstate 70 goes from here — near Baltimore in the mid-Atlantic States— transecting the continent through Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and ending in Cove Fort, Utah.
I-70 and I-95 are Cross Roads just above the Mason Dixon line. Cross roads is the theme here where cultures cross and mix. I-70 goes through some serious open country in the American West and over the highest points on the Interstate in the Colorado Rockies.
Not a lot of music raises the trials and tribulations of life’s long road like Country Music. Do you get crazy when you hear certain Country and Western songs? No? Not really a Country Western fan? Or do you love it? Well that does not matter because with Patsy Cline, let’s just say her music transcended the boundaries of musical genre. Songs which have become world wide classics resonated with all Americans and are today recognized all over the globe. One of those songs, named “Crazy” should immediately come to mind.
There are not a lot of musicians who crossover from Country and Western to pop. Most recently, the brightest star in this rarified firmament is none other than Taylor Swift.
The embodiment of the All American girl who happens to have huge talent, Taylor grew up in a rather bucolic setting on her family’s Christmas tree farm in West Reading, Pennsylvania. West Reading is about an hour west of Philadelphia.
Born in 1989, Taylor shot to the top of the charts when she was just a teenager. For her, the road to fame was relatively easy. Her hit "Our Song", made Taylor the youngest person to single-handedly write and sing a number-one song on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Swift's second album, “Fearless” explored country pop fusion and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. At the age of 18, her singles “You Belong to Me” and “Love Story” became crossover hits garnering huge audiences in both the Pop and Country Western audiences.
However, Taylor owes a lot to a person who had dropped out of high school to help support the family, worked in a Virginia slaughter house plucking and gutting chickens, and was a victim of parental child abuse. This happened all before little Patsy Cline turned 17.
While Patsy Cline had to wait to her mid twenties to achieve her success in the late 1950’s and early ’60's, she was the very first Country artist anywhere who became a major artist on both the Pop and Country Western charts.
No doubt Patsy’s struggles expanded the emotional resonance of her songs. Her limpid clear voice had universal appeal. In fact, she credits a sickness that almost killed her with expanding her vocal range. Abandoned by her father and born to a 16 year old mother at the height of the Great Depression in 1932 east of here in the Blue Ridge community of Windsor, Virginia, Patsy Cline found stability and started her ascent to stardom at the Moose Lodge in nearby Brunswick, Maryland. There she met her first husband who provided some sort of stability for the 16 year old itinerate singer.
If you take the next exit west on Interstate 70, you will be encounter Brunswick in a few miles. But in an interview in 1957, Patsy claimed that her hospitalization and near death at age 13 for rheumatic fever actually improved her voice. Said Patsy, “"I developed a terrible throat infection and my heart even stopped beating. The doctor put me in an oxygen tent. You might say it was my return to the living after several days that launched me as a singer. The fever affected my throat and when I recovered I had this booming voice.”
Booming is hardly the adjective to describe Patsy’s hits. Soulful. Melodic. Haunting even. Patsy is best remembered for “Walkin’ After Midnight”, “I Fall to Pieces”, “She’s Got You,” and “Crazy”. Fast Fact: “Crazy” was an early single written by a little known Nashville songwriter named Willie Nelson. Willie originally called the song “Stupid”. No doubt even as “Stupid”, the great Patsy Cline would still have made it a number one hit — in both genres.
As a pioneer for women in Country Music, Patsy was among the first to sell records and headline concerts. Still her career was cut short one night in a storm somewhere over Tennessee.
Returning to Nashville from a concert in Kansas City, Patsy’s plane crashed. She was just 31.
Since her tragic death in that 1963 plane crash, Patsy’s fame has just grown. Patsy Cline has been cited as one of the most influential singers of the 20th Century. Her music has influenced musicians of various styles and genres. But ultimately Patsy Cline’s roots were pure country. No surprise: in 1973, she became the first female performer to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Rest in peace, Patsy Cline. Enjoy your success, Taylor Swift. Across a universe of time and space the road leads directly from Patsy to Taylor. You both owe each other and have much to be thankful for. But Taylor Swift would not have happened without Patsy Cline... and there is nothing crazy about that.
#PatsyCline #CountryMusic #CountryandWestern #TaylorSwift #Crazy #Walkinaftermidnight #WillieNelson #