Country Throwback: Jamey Johnson Performs Cover of Patsy Cline’s ‘I Fall to Pieces’

by Katie Maloney

Jamey Johnson performs one of country music’s most famous love songs, Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces.”

Cline released her recording of “I Fall to Pieces” in 1961. The song became the first number one country hit of her career and also claimed the 12th spot on the Billboard Hot 100. But did you know that the song was written by Hank Cochran, one of country music’s most famous songwriters? In addition to his work with Cline, Cochran also wrote hit songs for artists including Eddy Arnold, Ray Price, and Jeannie Seely.

After his passing in 2010, performers from all over honored Cochran in their own way. Johnson recorded a tribute album in honor of his songwriting hero, Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran. The entire album consisted of covers of Cochran’s notable songs, including “I Fall to Pieces” as the second track. Merle Haggard even joined Johnson to sing guest vocals on the song.

Two years after the release of his album, Johnson honored Cochran and Cline again during the Flora-Bama 2014 Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival. Haggard wasn’t able to perform with him, so Johnson opted for an acoustic version of the song.

Jamey Johnson performs Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces.”

Jamey Johnson’s Favorite Songwriters Prefer ‘Tragic’ Love

Along with Cochran, songwriter Harlan Howard also contributed to the creation of “I Fall To Pieces.” During an interview, Howard explains that it’s easier to write tragic love songs than it is to write about happily ever afters.

“The toughest songs in the world to write are love songs,” he said. “‘I love you and I will forever and blah blah blah.’ I’d rather get into a song about a relationship that’s a little bit shaky or even tragic. That in my mind represents country music and the drama of the man-woman thing,” said Howard.

And Cline definitely shows us just how tragic unrequited love can feel as she belts out “I Fall To Pieces.” However, Cline almost didn’t record the song. Reports say “Cline was reluctant to record this ballad, which had been turned down by Brenda Lee, until producer Owen Bradley coaxed her into it.”

Ultimately, Cline did record the song and it became, arguably, the first country/pop crossover song.

“The sound was stone country but wrapped in elaborate pop, with Cline crying inside like a nerve rubbed raw by heartbreak,” the same report says.

Jamey Johnson’s Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran