On This Day: Patsy Cline Begins Recording ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’ in 1957

by Matthew Wilson

Patsy Cline may be singing about “Walkin’ After Midnight.” But it was the dawn of the country singer’s career. Cline became one of country music’s rising stars with the classic tune.

Cline imbues the song with a haunting, melodic quality that made it both an instant hit and a timeless classic. The loneliness creeps through her voice and can shatter the heart of even the most cynical listener.

The song chronicles a woman searching for the fabled one out in the starlight. Probably, not the greatest advice especially if you live on the rough side of town. But the way Cline sings, you’ll believe it’s the only thing she could do.

Patsy Cline Hated the Song at First

Cline became a music star perhaps despite herself. She often rallied against the tunes that ended up being her biggest hits. And “Walkin After Midnight” was no exception. Record executives managed to convince Cline that she would have her first sure-fire hit on her hands with the song. They told her that the tune would reveal her range and emotions as a singer. In this case, they ended up being right.

Songwriters Alan Block and Don Hecht are the creators behind the classic tune. They were staff writers for Four Star Records where Cline had also signed a record deal.

Upon release, the song became a success not only in the country genre, but it also crossed over into the pop genre. It landed No. 2 on the country chart and No. 12 on the pop chart. America couldn’t get enough of Cline’s brand of country. The tune opened the door to a successful if tragically short career. But why was it successful?

An appearance on the show “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” demoed the tune to millions of listeners. Originally, Cline wanted to perform “A Poor Man’s Roses (Or a Rich Man’s Gold)” on the show. But producers insisted that she sing “Walkin’ After Midnight” instead.

Audiences clapped so hard in response that it broke the show’s applause meter. After the song, Cline was a star. But to prove she wasn’t a one-hit-wonder, Cline struggled until she released “I Fall to Pieces.”