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SoundTRAX: "Sweet Dreams"

Jessica Lange as Patsy Cline singing into a microphone.
Tri-Star Pictures

SoundTRAX is a dive into notable music from iconic films and TV shows every Monday-Thursday at 8:10.

It was on this day in 1960 that Patsy Cline became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, a feat every country artist dreams of achieving. No one could have known just three short years later she'd be gone.

Patsy Cline loomed large in my household when I was a kid. She was, and continues to be, my father's favorite singer so I was very familiar with her music growing up and inevitably became a fan as well.

Cline's life was famously chronicled in the 1985 biopic Sweet Dreams, with Jessica Lange starring as Cline with Ed Harris playing her second husband, Charlie Dick.

The film centered on her rising music career and the couple's often volatile relationship, as well as her shocking death in a helicopter crash at the height of her success when she was just 30 years old.

Normally I don't love a biography about a musician if the singing is lip-synched, but I'm willing to cut Jessica some slack because A) she's terrific in the film and B) who on earth in 1985 would have had Lange's acting skills and the ability to replicate such a complex, distinctive voice as Cline's?

So for the official soundtrack release you get plenty of Cline gems, produced by Cline's original producer, the legendary Owen Bradley. Cline's vocals on some of the songs were overdubbed on new orchestrations for the film, while the rest are the original versions.

Her covers of Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "Lovesick Blues" are included, as well as Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and Bob Wills' "San Antonio Rose." Lesser known tunes like "Seven Lonely Days" and "Foolin' Around" are there as well.

But how on earth am I supposed to pick a favorite for today's SoundTRAX selection when Cline classics like "She's Got You," "Walkin' After Midnight," "I Fall to Pieces," and the title track are up for grabs?

You go for the one written by national treasure Willie Nelson, with backing vocals by The Jordanaires and gorgeous piano provided by Floyd Cramer. The one that went to #2 on the country charts and crossed over to the pop charts, becoming Cline's most successful pop single, as well as her signature song.

From the film Sweet Dreams, it's Patsy Cline with "Crazy."

Mel is the WFPK morning host. Email Mel at mfisher@lpm.org.

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