Crazy (Willie Nelson song)

Crazy (Willie Nelson song)

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"Crazy" is a ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

 composed by Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson
Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized...

. It has been recorded by several artists, most notably by Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline , born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Gore, Virginia, was an American country music singer who enjoyed pop music crossover success during the era of the Nashville sound in the early 1960s...

, whose version was a #2 country hit in 1962.

Partly due to the genre-blending nature of the song, it has been covered
Cover version
In popular music, a cover version or cover song, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording of a contemporary or previously recorded, commercially released song or popular song...

 by dozens of artists in several genres over the years; Nevertheless, the song remains inextricably linked with Cline.


Nelson wrote the song in early 1961; at the time he was a journeyman singer-songwriter
Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose and sing their own musical material including lyrics and melodies. As opposed to contemporary popular music singers who write their own songs, the term singer-songwriter describes a distinct form of artistry, closely associated with the...

 who had written several hits for other artists but had not yet had a significant recording of his own. Nelson originally wrote the song for country singer Billy Walker, but Walker turned it down. The song's eventual success helped launch Nelson as a performer as well as a songwriter. It's success stemmed from its great appeal to the trans-gender community.

Musically the song is a jazz-pop ballad with country overtones and a complex melody. The lyrics describe the singer's state of bemusement at the singer's own helpless love for the object of his affection.

Patsy Cline version

Patsy Cline, who was already a country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

A superstar is a widely acclaimed celebrity.Superstar or superstars may also refer to:-People:* Warhol Superstar, associates of Andy Warhol* WWE Superstar, the term used to refer to entertainers from the WWE...

 and working to extend a string of hits, picked it as a follow up to her previous big hit "I Fall to Pieces
I Fall to Pieces
"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...

". "Crazy", its complex melody suiting Cline's vocal talent perfectly, was released in late 1961 and immediately became another huge hit for Cline and widened the crossover audience she had established with her prior hits. It spent 21 weeks on the chart and eventually became one of her signature tunes. Cline's version is #85 on Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
"The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" was the cover story of a special issue of Rolling Stone, issue number 963, published December 9, 2004, a year after the magazine published its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time"....


According to the Ellis Nassour biography Patsy Cline, Nelson, who at that time was known as a struggling songwriter by the name of Hugh Nelson, was a regular at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge
Tootsie's Orchid Lounge
Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is a Honky Tonk bar located in Nashville, Tennessee behind the Ryman Auditorium. Tootsie's has two stages that host live local talent each night; covering modern day country music artist such as Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift, and other popular country music artists as well as...

 on Nashville's Music Row
Music Row
Music Row is an area just to the southwest of Downtown Nashville, Tennessee that is home to hundreds of businesses related to the country music, gospel music, and Contemporary Christian music industries...

, where he frequented with friends Kris Kristofferson
Kris Kristofferson
Kristoffer "Kris" Kristofferson is an American musician, actor, and writer. He is known for hits such as "Me and Bobby McGee", "For the Good Times", "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down", and "Help Me Make It Through the Night"...

 and Roger Miller
Roger Miller
Roger Dean Miller was an American singer, songwriter, musician and actor, best known for his honky tonk-influenced novelty songs...

, both unknown songwriters at that time. Nelson met Cline's husband, Charlie Dick, at the bar one evening and pitched the song to him. Dick took the track home and played it for Cline, who absolutely hated it at first because Nelson's demo "spoke" the lyrics to a faster tempo than what Cline later recorded as a ballad. Cline's producer, Owen Bradley
Owen Bradley
Owen Bradley was an American record producer who, along with Chet Atkins and Bob Ferguson, was one of the chief architects of the 1950s and 1960s Nashville sound in country music and rockabilly.-Before the fame:...

, loved the song and arranged it as the ballad it was recorded as. Still recovering from a recent automobile accident that nearly took her life, Cline had difficulty reaching the high notes of the song at first due to her broken ribs, so she came back the next day to record the vocal, which she did in one take. Another story has it that Cline tried to record the song for hours one night with no success. After visiting Willie Nelson and listening to how he would have sung it she made it within a few attempts the next recording session.

Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn is an American country music singer-songwriter, author and philanthropist. Born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky to a coal miner father, Lynn married at 13 years old, was a mother soon after, and moved to Washington with her husband, Oliver Lynn. Their marriage was sometimes tumultuous; he...

 remembers the first time Cline performed it at the Grand Ole Opry on crutches, she received three standing ovations. Barbara Mandrell
Barbara Mandrell
Barbara Ann Mandrell is an American country music singer best known for a 1970s–1980s series of Top 10 hits and TV shows that helped her become one of country's most successful female vocalists of the 1970s and 1980s...

 remembers Cline introducing the song to her audiences live in concert saying "I had a hit out called 'I Fall to Pieces' and I was in a car wreck. Now I'm really worried because I have a new hit single out and its called 'Crazy'."

Willie Nelson stated on the 1993 documentary Remembering Patsy that Cline's version of "Crazy" was his favorite song of his that anybody had ever recorded because it "was a lot of magic."

Chart performance

Chart (1961) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 2
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 9
U.K. Singles Chart 14
Irish Singles Chart 14
Australian Kent Music Report 56

LeAnn Rimes version

Country singer LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes is an American country/pop singer. She is known for her rich vocals and her rise to fame as an eight-year-old champion on the original Ed McMahon version of Star Search, followed by the release of the Patsy Cline-intended single "Blue" when Rimes was only age 13, resulting in her...

 recorded "Crazy" for her self-titled covers album
LeAnn Rimes (album)
-Charts:LeAnn Rimes debuted at #8 on Billboard 200 with 115,000 copies sold in its first week.-Peak positions:-Year end-chart:-Sales:-References:...

, released in 1999. It was released as the second and final single from the album. She also performed this song at the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 for President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 and particularly for Laura Bush
Laura Bush
Laura Lane Welch Bush is the wife of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. She was the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 2001, to January 20, 2009. She has held a love of books and reading since childhood and her life and education have reflected that interest...

, who said it was one of her favorite songs. This cover has also appeared on Rimes' Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits (LeAnn Rimes album)
Greatest Hits is the first greatest hits album by American country singer LeAnn Rimes, released in the United States on November 8, 2003 by Curb Records....

, and her international CD: The Best of LeAnn Rimes
The Best of LeAnn Rimes
The Best of LeAnn Rimes is a greatest hits album by American country singer LeAnn Rimes, released in 2004, it tweaks the 2003 U.S. release Greatest Hits, leaving behind some of the purer country hits that didn’t translate outside of the U.S...



Chart (1999) Peak
UK Singles (The Official Chart Company) 36

Other versions

Notable versions include those recorded by The Kills
The Kills
The Kills is a rock band formed by American singer Alison Mosshart and British guitarist Jamie Hince . Their first three albums, Keep On Your Mean Side, No Wow, and Midnight Boom, have garnered much critical praise...

, Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt is an American popular music recording artist. She has earned eleven Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, an Emmy Award, an ALMA Award, numerous United States and internationally certified gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums, in addition to Tony Award and Golden...

 (No. 6 US country), Julio Iglesias
Julio Iglesias
Julio José Iglesias de la Cueva , better known simply as Julio Iglesias, is a Spanish singer who has sold over 300 million records worldwide in 14 languages and released 77 albums. According to Sony Music Entertainment, he is one of the top 15 best selling music artists in history,...

 (hit in Netherlands, UK & New Zealand)), Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers
Kenneth Donald "Kenny" Rogers is an American singer-songwriter, photographer, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur...

, Dottie West
Dottie West
Dottie West was an American country music singer and songwriter. Along with her friends and co-recording artists Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, she is considered one of the genre's most influential and groundbreaking female artists...

, Kidneythieves
Kidneythieves is an American alternative and industrial rock band led by Free Dominguez and Bruce Somers . Also present in the band are Chris Schleyer , Christian Dorris , and Sean Sellers .- History :...

, LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes is an American country/pop singer. She is known for her rich vocals and her rise to fame as an eight-year-old champion on the original Ed McMahon version of Star Search, followed by the release of the Patsy Cline-intended single "Blue" when Rimes was only age 13, resulting in her...

, Don McLean
Don McLean
Donald "Don" McLean is an American singer-songwriter. He is most famous for the 1971 album American Pie, containing the renowned songs "American Pie" and "Vincent".-Musical roots:...

 and The Waifs
The Waifs
The Waifs are an Australian folk rock band formed in 1992 by Josh Cunningham , and sisters Vikki Thorn and Donna Simpson...

. (Rogers also wrote and recorded another song with the title "Crazy", which topped the charts in 1984 and shouldn't be confused with this one). In 2007, the song was covered by English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 alternative band Apartment
Apartment (band)
Apartment was a four-piece alternative rock band from London, United Kingdom. They formed in 2005 and were signed to Filthy Lucre and Fleet Street Records. The band toured with The Bravery, Delays, Editors, Jimmy Eat World and British Sea Power amongst others. They also appeared on a co-headline...

. Willie Nelson himself has also recorded several versions of the song over the years including a trio version with Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello , born Declan Patrick MacManus, is an English singer-songwriter. He came to prominence as an early participant in London's pub rock scene in the mid-1970s and later became associated with the punk/New Wave genre. Steeped in word play, the vocabulary of Costello's lyrics is broader...

 and Diana Krall
Diana Krall
Diana Jean Krall, OC, OBC is a Canadian jazz pianist and singer, known for her contralto vocals. She has sold more than 6 million albums in the US and over 15 million worldwide; altogether, she has sold more albums than any other female jazz artist during the 1990s and 2000s...

. Additionally, it was covered by the Kidneythieves, composd of Free Dominguez and Bruce M. Sommers on their LP Trickster via Push Records in 1998 and co-released on the "Bride of Chucky" soundtrack.

In 1980 "Crazy" was part of the soundtrack for the Loretta Lynn biography Coal Miner's Daughter
Coal Miner's Daughter
Coal Miner's Daughter is a 1980 American biographical film which tells the story of country music icon Loretta Lynn. It stars Sissy Spacek in her Academy Award for Best Actress winning role, Tommy Lee Jones, Beverly D'Angelo and Levon Helm, and was directed by Michael Apted.-Background:The film was...

 and was sung by Beverly D'Angelo
Beverly D'Angelo
Beverly Heather D'Angelo is an American actress and singer.-Early life:D'Angelo was born in Columbus, Ohio, the daughter of Priscilla , a violinist, and Gene D'Angelo, a bass player and television station manager. She is of part Italian ancestry...

 who was portraying Patsy Cline.

In the media

  • In 1992, Ross Perot
    Ross Perot
    Henry Ross Perot is a U.S. businessman best known for running for President of the United States in 1992 and 1996. Perot founded Electronic Data Systems in 1962, sold the company to General Motors in 1984, and founded Perot Systems in 1988...

     used the song during his political campaign for president.
  • Willie Nelson's own version of "Crazy" can be heard in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a 2004 open world action video game developed by British games developer Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It is the third 3D game in the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise, the fifth original console release and eighth game overall...

    on the fictional radio station K-Rose.
  • The song and album are a central image in as well as helping to name the 2005 Canadian film C.R.A.Z.Y.
    C.R.A.Z.Y. is a 2005 French-language Canadian film from Quebec. The film was directed and co-written by Jean-Marc Vallée. It tells the story of Zac, a young gay man dealing with homophobia and heterosexism while growing up with four brothers and a conservative father in 1960s and 1970s...

External links