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Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline Paperback – June 1, 2008
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"With a clear, concise style, Nassour reconstructs Cline’s life. . . . [The] painstaking interviews provide an insightful and comprehensive look at one of country music's pioneers. It’s a good read." Rocky Mountain News
"Cline was a woman of great passion, prone to her own style of sexual braggadocio, and Nassour gives us all the earthiness of this most sublime singer." Phoenix Gazette
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Nassour must have interviews hundreds of Patsy's friends, family and fellow musicians because the detail of this book is amazing. You get every recording she ever did, along with her session players, first band, rumored loves, and of course her relationship with Charlie Dick with whom she had her two children. Charlie doesn't come off particularly good in the book, a lady's man and a probably alcoholic, Dick treats Patsy as if he's both proud of her accomplishments and jealous at the same time.
I learned that Patsy was as generous off stage as she was on stage. She helped other singers with no jealousy which is very unusual since it's been my experience that singer/musicians can be very competitive. Patsy helped her mother with money, gave her younger brother and sister everything, which turned out to be disappointing in the end, because the two fought over Patsy's things when their mother died.
Patsy was married to Gerrard Cline first, and ended up using his name for the rest of her life, just as Demi Moore and Pat Benatar also did in their careers even though they married other men afterwards.
After reading Honky Tonk Angel, I felt as if I really knew the woman behind the voice. All of the heartache and longing you hear in the songs Patsy made famous, are echoes of her life. She tried so hard to first 'make it' as a star, and then to keep her home life together once she was famous. What was so special about Patsy Cline is how she transcended country music. Her voice was too big for just one type of music and in fact she crossed over into popular music making her accessible to the world.
Patsy fought this, thinking that she was betraying her roots, but given that her voice was meant for the world, it was inevitable that she'd move beyond one way of singing. I think the contrast between her pure country ambitions, and her big, glorious voice, caused the wonderful tension in her songs. Ray Charles had the same effect with his mixing of the blues with church music, and Willie Nelson with his Jazz styling with country songs.
Informative with encyclopedic-research, Honky Tonk Angel is a must for every Patsy fan.