Listen to Patsy Cline perform her haunting “Sweet Dreams,” the almost 58-year-old song that was featured on the country artist’s final studio album.
Cline died in a plane crash in March, 1963. It’s an infamous story in Nashville lore of how a horrible accident stripped the country community of one of its most beautiful voices. Cline was only 30 years old. But since Cline died, as the years turn into decades, stories have come out telling us that Cline felt premonitions she would die young.
There was Dottie West’s first-person accounts. Lorretta Lynn and June Carter Cash talked about their conversations with Patsy Cline. Then there was this one from Jan Howard, a friend of Cline’s who sang the demo for Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces.”
Patsy Cline Told Friends “Sweet Dreams” Would Be Her Final Song
Patsy Cline spent the last weeks of her life working on her album, “Faded Love” for Decca Records. She finally finished it in February 1963. At a playback party to celebrate the finish of the album, Howard said they played “Sweet Dreams.”
Howard, in an interview for a movie about Cline, said the country artist held up a copy of the album and said “Well, here it is, the first and the last.”
Dottie West also had a conversation with Cline before her death. Cline’s final performance was a benefit concert, March 3, 1963 in Kansas City, Kansas. The next day, it was too foggy for her plane to take off. West asked her friend Patsy to ride in her car.
But Cline declined.
West said Patsy Cline told her and her husband, “Don’t worry about me, Hoss. When it’s my time to go, it’s my time.” West and her husband then left for the 16-hour drive back to Nashville.
Cline met her time the next day. The plane left without incident. It stopped in Missouri to refuel. At that point, the pilot was warned about bad weather ahead. He wasn’t trained to use the instruments on the plane. Instead, the pilot relied on visuals. The plane crashed nose first into a Tennessee forest about 100 miles from Nashville. The crash killed everyone aboard.
“Sweet Dreams” Was Crossover Hit After Cline Died
Cline’s record company released “Sweet Dreams” posthumously. It probably would’ve been a smash anyway. But the song zoomed to No. 7 on the country charts and 44 on the Billboard top 100 as Cline’s fans mourned the loss of the young mother with such an incredible voice. Other posthumous hits were “Leavin’ on Your Mind’ and ‘Faded Love.’
In hindsight, Cline probably had a firm grasp on how fleeting life can be. She had rheumatic fever and spent days in an oxygen tent when she was a teen-ager. Less than two years before her death, Cline and her brother were involved in a car wreck. She spent a month in the hospital recovering from her injuries. Others in the wreck died. When Cline arrived at the hospital, she wasn’t expected to live.
Patsy Cline’s music has withstood the test of time. It still seems fresh and vibrant. In 1973, the Country Music Hall of Fame tapped Cline for membership. She was the first solo female country performer to earn the honor.
If you’d like to read more Outsider coverage of Patsy Cline, here’s a story about her friendship with Loretta Lynn. Here’s another detailing Reba McEntire’s cover of the now-iconic Sweet Dreams. And, finally, here’s some coverage of LeAnn Rimes, who reminded so many of Cline when she debuted her first album.
Now, if you’d like to listen to some classic Patsy Cline, here’s her “Sweet Dreams”