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"I Fall to Pieces" is a single released by Patsy Cline in 1961, and was featured on her 1961 studio album, Patsy Cline Showcase. "I Fall to Pieces" was Cline's first #1 hit on the Country charts, and her second hit single to cross over onto the Pop charts. It was the first of a string of songs that would be written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard (not always collaborating) for Cline.

"I Fall to Pieces" became one of Cline's most-recognizable hit singles. It has also been classified as a country music standard.

Writing and recording

Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard met in Californiamarker, and became songwriting partners. One night, Cochran was mulling over song ideas, when he thought of a title, "I Fall to Pieces." Cochran met up with Howard at his house the next day, where they finished writing the song. The demo version of the song was recorded at Pamper Music in Goodlettsville, Tennesseemarker by Howard's wife and country singer, Jan Howard. Harlan Howard pitched the song to Decca producer, Owen Bradley, who tried to find the right artist to record it. The song was turned down numerous times, first by Brenda Lee, who found the song "too country" for her pop style. Bradley then asked rising country star, Roy Drusky to record it but he turned it down stating that it's not a man's song. Patsy Cline, who overheard Drusky's argument with Bradley about the song, asked if she could record it instead. Bradley then accepted her offer.

When Cline began recording the song in November 1960, she had second guesses after she discovered popular Nashville session group, The Jordanaires would serve as the background vocalists. Cline was afraid the Jordanaires would drown her sound out and as a result, she was not very friendly upon meeting them.Cline also felt that the Pop ballad style Bradley wanted it recorded in didn't suit her own style. Bradley was trying to make the song appeal to the Pop market, an idea that was not well-liked by Cline. She had several arguments with Bradley, however the ending result led to Cline recording it in the style that Bradley wanted it. After listening to the playback of "I Fall to Pieces," she ended up liking the song, stating that she finally found her own identity.

Structure and lyrics

"I Fall to Pieces" is a country-pop ballad about how a woman's lover doesn't want them to be together, yet the woman can't understand why, explaining that every time he walks by she "falls to pieces." The beginning of the song sets up the entire story of the song:

:"I fall to pieces,
:Each time I see you again
:I fall to pieces
:How can I be just your friend?"


"I Fall to Pieces" was released 30 January, 1961. Upon its release, it was virtually ignored by radio stations. However, Hal Smith of Pamper Music, who had faith in the song's songwriters hired a promotion man, Pat Nelson to promote the single. Nelson's strategy was to attempt to explain to DJs that "I Fall to Pieces" was a departure from any of Cline's previous singles. Soon a Pop radio station in Columbus, Ohiomarker began playing the single. After finding this out, Bradley saw that the song was being fanned by record distibutors across the country. Within four months, momentum was building on both the Country and Pop charts. On April 3, the song debuted on the Billboard Country Chart and began its ascent.By August 1961, "I Fall to Pieces" peaked at number one on the Billboard Country Chart . and reached number twelve on the Billboard Pop Chart. It would be one of several Country-pop crossover hits that Cline was to have over the next couple of years.Cline was able to prove that a solo female artist could have major hits on both the country and pop charts. That year, she was acclaimed as one of the nations leading recording artists, along with Jimmy Darren and Bobby Vee.

However, due to a major car accident in June 1961, Cline was kept in the hospital for two months, which cut into promoting "I Fall to Pieces." Therefore, by the time Cline had left the hospital, "I Fall to Pieces'" popularity began to decrease.The success of the song helped get Cline a invitation to become a regular cast member the Grand Ole Oprymarker in Nashville, Tennesseemarker.In 1980, the song was re-released and overdubbed on a Patsy Cline compilation album, Always. The new version contained new instrumentation and new female background vocalists. The song even charted among the Billboard Country Chart that year, peaking at #61. An electronically-produced duet of the song with deceased country star, Jim Reeves was released in 1982, and charted at #54 on the Billboard Country Chart.

In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked "I Fall to Pieces" at #238 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.The song was also ranked at #7 on CMT's television special of the 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music. Another Patsy Cline song, "Crazy" was ranked four positions higher at #3 on the countdown.It was also ranked at #107 on RIAA's list of the Songs of the Century.

Cover versions

Year Artist
1961 Dottie West
The Wilburn Brothers
Faron Young
1962 Warner Mack
Jim Reeves
Johnny Tillotson
1963 Jimmy Day
Ferlin Husky
Slim Whitman
1964 Eddy Arnold
Ray Price
1966 Jeannie Seely
Carla Thomas
1968 Danny Davis
1969 Lynn Anderson from the album "Songs That Made Country Girls Famous"
1970 Jack Greene
Michael Nesmith
Diana Trask
1971 Sonny James
Conway Twitty
Linda Ronstadt
1977 Loretta Lynn
1980 Hank Cochran
Willie Nelson & Ray Price
1981 Billie Jo Spears
1983 Sandy Posey
1984 Wanda Jackson
1990 Warren Smith
1993 Crystal Gayle
1994 Aaron Neville & Trisha Yearwood
1995 David Axlerod
Screeching Weasel
1996 David Houston
Buzzy Jones
Tracy Nelson
1999 Connie Francis
LeAnn Rimes
2002 Lisa Dames
Anne Murray
2003 Natalie Cole
Tom Andersen
2004 Margie Cumbie
2005 Pam Nadale
Tex Robinson
Ann Williamson
2006 The Czars
Steve Izen
Jack Jezzro
Mary Kelly
2007 Davidson & Turner


Chart (1961) Peak position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 12
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 6


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