My obsession with Patsy Cline began almost seven years ago. My seventh grade English teacher wanted us to make pop-up books on a historical figure, and after asking my parents and grandparents for ideas, I decided on Patsy Cline. The only song I’d ever heard by Patsy was “Crazy,” but that pop-up book English project sparked a love for her voice and her music that I still carry as a college student, and I doubt that obsession will ever fade. She’s a classic sound and her story is one of both tragedy and triumph. I could go on forever about the woman herself, but let’s get down to business about the book that bears her name.
I spotted Patsy: The Life and Times of Patsy Cline on a store shelf when I was in Nashville, and due to my previously mentioned obsession, I knew I had to read it. The description and reviews sounded promising, so I started reading the same day.
The book starts out with a detailed account of Patsy’s family history as far back as her grandparents, and then launches into the even more detailed stories of Patsy’s childhood. Jones tells about every aspect of Patsy’s early life in quite a few wordy (and at times almost off-topic) passages, and continues into Patsy’s teenage years and the start of her musical career. Quite honestly, the book was difficult for me to read when I first started out because there isn’t much personality in the tone.
Jones gives ample information about all of the happenings of Patsy’s musical career and about her marriages and personal life along the way, but she also presents quite a bit of background information about many of the people Patsy encountered. For someone who only wants the straight facts about Patsy and Patsy alone, that would get irritating. But because I’m pursuing a career in the country music industry, I didn’t mind the chapters that contained history lessons and mini-biographies on the industry and its key players during Patsy’s time.
Some chapters were devoted almost entirely to people other than Patsy, and I did get a little impatient because I felt that the book was getting off-topic. Most readers might skip all of those extraneous details and back stories, and I was tempted to do just that; however, I’m glad I read them because it made me aware that I know little about the history of the business side of the country music industry. Seeing as how that’s exactly the area in which I’m chasing a career, I find it important to know the history from a business-based perspective as well as from the more common perspective of an audience member and listener. Some of the anecdotes piqued my interest, and it’s led me to do some enjoyable research of my own on people such as Owen Bradley and Connie B. Gay.
Overall, the book is merely a chronological information dump. I enjoyed seeing big names in country music in the book as they shared their own personal memories of Patsy, but the parts told in the author’s words lack personality and emotion. After reading this book, I feel like I know quite a bit about Patsy’s life and what happened to her, but I’m left wanting to know Patsy herself and her personality more intimately, and unfortunately that is where this book doesn’t quite hit the mark.
I would recommend this book to anyone who– like me– has a passion for Patsy Cline’s music but also wants some extra knowledge about the country music industry’s history, but if you’re looking for a compelling and sincere account that will give you insight into who Patsy was, you should probably look elsewhere.
For more information, you can find Patsy: The Life and Times of Patsy Cline on Amazon.com here.