Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams: The World of Patsy Cline

Edited by Warren R. Hofstra
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt3fh5nh
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  • Book Info
    Sweet Dreams
    Book Description:

    One of the most influential and acclaimed female vocalists of the twentieth century, Patsy Cline (1932–63) was best known for her rich tone and emotionally expressive voice. Born Virginia Patterson Hensley, she launched her musical career during the early 1950s as a young woman in Winchester, Virginia, and her heartfelt songs reflect her life and times in this community. A country music singer who enjoyed pop music crossover success, Cline embodied the power and appeal of women in country music, helping open the lucrative industry to future female solo artists. Bringing together noted authorities on Patsy Cline and country music, Sweet Dreams: The World of Patsy Cline examines the regional and national history that shaped Cline's career and the popular culture that she so profoundly influenced with her music. In detailed, deeply researched essays, contributors provide an account of Cline's early performance days in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, analyze the politics of the split between pop and country music, and discuss her strategies for negotiating gender in relation to her public and private persona. This volume explores the rich and complex history of a woman whose music and image changed the shape of country music and American popular culture.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09498-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Music, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  4. Introduction: Country Music and Cultural History in the World of Patsy Cline
    (pp. 1-16)
    Warren R. Hofstra

    What interests us in Patsy Cline is her enduring popularity. If she had not entered the Country Music Hall of Fame as the first female soloist a full decade after her death in 1963, merited a commemorative first-class stamp issued in her honor in 1993, earned a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement two years later, secured a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999, received the Recording Industry Association of America Diamond Award for ten million sales of her greatest hits album, all amid numerous other recognitions and honors, the essays in this collection would seem stillborn. Cline...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Patsy Cline and the Transformation of the Working-Class South
    (pp. 17-21)
    Bill C. Malone

    The memory of Patsy Cline is much celebrated and honored today, but it has not always been the fate of working-class people to receive this kind of recognition. I do not mind telling you that this son of working-class Texas parents is thrilled to see Cline receive her due. It also seems appropriate that Cline’s popularity today is greatest in urban areas throughout America and the world because country music really took shape in the towns and cities of the South, not in the remote hills and hollows of Appalachia or the far-off Western Plains that have always fired our...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Legacy and Legend: The Cultural World of Patsy Cline’s Winchester
    (pp. 22-66)
    Warren R. Hofstra and Mike Foreman

    On a spring evening in 1961, Patsy Cline climbed to the top of the projection booth of the Winchester Drive-In where King of the Wild Stallions—“gunhot death on Wild Horse Mesa”—had just finished running and the crowd was awaiting Young Jesse James. Cline had donned her cowgirl regalia. According to her friend Joltin’ Jim McCoy, local country music singer, who had arranged the event:

    Here’s Patsy singing, and the women—it was never the men, that’s one thing I want to clarify—the women started blowing the horns and booing her. Now she already started to get a...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Patsy Cline and the Problem of Respectability
    (pp. 67-85)
    Beth Bailey

    In early 1955, Patsy Cline’s life was the stuff of soap opera—though with censorship regulations that banned the use of the word “pregnant” (much less the truck driver’s vocabulary Cline regularly employed) and restricted married couples to twin beds, no television show could approach the private complications and public scandal that surrounded her as she moved toward her first Nashville recording session that spring. Patsy’s two-year-old marriage to Gerald Cline, as she told her sidemen in explicit detail, was not “satisfying.” In the interest of her career, she had taken back up with her manager, Bill Peer—a married...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Cultural Scripts and Patsy Cline’s Career in the 1950s
    (pp. 86-104)
    Kristine M. McCusker

    Perhaps one of the most enduring narratives in country music scholarship is the scarcity of women in the country music industry; that is, until feminist revolutionaries like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, and Dolly Parton broke it wide open, beginning in the early 1960s. When this narrative began is unclear, although the emergence of a feminist critique of male-only histories in the 1970s and 1980s was most likely one catalyst. What is clear is that it has had a central place in some of the best country music scholarship. Writing about country radio barn dances in the 1930s, Bill...

  9. INTERLUDE The Early Years: Hard Times and Good Times for Country Music in 1950s Washington, D.C.
    (pp. 105-107)
    George Hamilton IV

    In June of 1956 I had recorded my first nationally released record—a teen ballad, written by John D. Loudermilk, called “A Rose and a Baby Ruth.” There was a young law student at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who heard it on a local radio station. “Rose” was recorded on the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and was first played in that region. The student was one Jan Gay, who happened to be the son of Connie B. Gay, producer of the Jimmy Dean Show on WMAL-TV in Washington, D.C., and also the...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Patsy Cline: A Television Star
    (pp. 108-127)
    Douglas Gomery

    On December 31, 1955, Patsy Cline first appeared on Connie B. Gay’s Town and Country Jamboree, a local Washington, D.C., television show. She would perform virtually every Saturday night for a year. This would give her experience so that when she appeared on the national broadcast of CBS’s Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts on January 21, 1957, she was an experienced TV performer. The win on Godfrey provided the needed breakthrough of her career and made her a star. But Cline’s earlier work on TV was the key development in her career. It enabled her to move from local clubs, to...

  11. CHAPTER 6 “Nothing but a Little Ole Pop Song”: Patsy Cline’s Music Style and the Evolution of Genre in the 1950s
    (pp. 128-153)
    Jocelyn R. Neal

    On September 13, 2009, Taylor Swift stood on the stage at MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs), stunning in an elegant, floor-length, silver, bespangled gown. Microphone in hand, she began her acceptance speech for “Best Female Video.” Although barely nineteen years old, the blonde singer-songwriter had enjoyed a banner year that would culminate soon thereafter with her crowned as the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year. She had secured the fierce loyalty of a huge population of young fans and had racked up a stack of radio hits and impressive sales records in just three short years. “Thank you so...

  12. CHAPTER 7 “Becoming a Postage Stamp”: Patsy Cline, Visual Image, and the Celebrity Process
    (pp. 154-169)
    Joli Jensen

    This essay is about what Patsy Cline has been made to look like. In the 1950s and early 1960s she was a real person and performer who shaped and was shaped by her visual image, in and through the changing country music industry. Since her 1963 death, her visual image has been shaped by other people. By exploring how Patsy Cline has become a visual icon, we can investigate aspects of how country music and celebrity are culturally processed.

    In the summer of 1978 I had no idea what Patsy Cline looked like—she was just a stunning voice on...

  13. Afterword: The Historical Significance of Patsy Cline
    (pp. 170-188)
    Warren R. Hofstra

    Without the resurgence of Cline’s posthumous popularity in the 1980s and her subsequent elevation to iconic status—witness the 1993 postage stamp—her story would be very different. Her early death notwithstanding, she has received little of the scholarly attention given to Jimmy Rogers or Hank Williams, each of whose stardom was equally fleeting but whose celebrity today is arguably far less than Cline’s. Is then this book more about Cline’s enduring legacy than the cultural significance of her life and career? Is it about images of Cline or about the real Cline?

    These juxtapositions, however, beg the larger question...

  14. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 189-192)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 193-198)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 199-208)