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"Walkin' After Midnight"
Single by Patsy Cline
from the album Patsy Cline
B-side "A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold)"
Released February 11, 1957
Format 78 rpm
Recorded November 8, 1956
Bradley Film and Recording Studios
Genre Country
Length 2:32
Label Decca
Writer(s) Alan Block, Donn Hecht
Producer Owen Bradley
Patsy Cline singles chronology
"I've Loved and Lost Again"
(1956)
"Walkin' After Midnight"
(1957)
"Today, Tomorrow, and Forever"
(1957)

"Walkin' After Midnight" is a song by American country artist, Patsy Cline. Written by Alan Block and Donn Hecht, the song was originally given to Pop singer, Kay Starr, however it was rejected by her record label. The song was left unused until Hecht rediscovered the song when writing for Four Star Records. Originally Cline was not fond of "Walkin' After Midnight," however after making a compromise with her label, she recorded it.

In January 1957, Cline performed the song on an episode of the CBS television program, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. It garnered a large response from viewers, and was therefore rush-released as a single February 11, 1957. "Walkin' After Midnight" became Patsy Cline's first major hit single, reaching #2 on the Billboard Country music chart, and #12 on the Pop chart. Although the song was her only hit until 1961, the single version sold over one million copies and is often included on professional lists of the all-time greatest songs in country music.

Contents

Background and composition

The song was written by Alan Block and Donn Hecht a few years before its recorded version by Patsy Cline. According to Hecht, after securing a songwriting contract with Four Star Records, his assignment was to pick an artist from the label who he could compose a song for. Hecht was impressed by Cline's vocals and realized her voice was best-suited to Pop music. Among his catalog of Pop-styled songs was "Walkin' After Midnight," which was originally intended for Traditional Pop artist, Kay Starr. The original version had been rejected by Starr's record label, and was left unused for years. After discovering the song again, Hecht made some minor changes to it and gave it to Cline's producer. Cline's original reaction to "Walkin' After Midnight" was negative, however Hecht and Four Star-owner, Bill McCall came to an agreement with her. The compromise was that Cline would record it as long as she could also record "A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold)," a song she favored.[1] "Walkin' After Midnight" was then recorded at the Bradley Film and Recording Studios on November 8, 1956, along with "A Poor Man's Roses," "The Heart You Break May Be Your Own," and "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down."[2]

"Walkin' After Midnight" is a Country pop song with stylistic elements taken from the genres of Jazz, Traditional Pop, and Blues.[3] The song is composed in the key of B-flat major and is set in Verse-chorus form.[4] "Walkin' After Midnight" features instrumentation from an acoustic guitar, basic drums and piano, steel guitar, electric guitar, and acoustic bass. Its session members were part of Nashville's A-Team of musicians, whom would play on most of the recording sessions on RCA Victor and Decca Records. Among the selected musicians were Harold Bradley, Grady Martin, and Bob Moore, all of whom would later play on Cline's later records in the early 1960s.[2]

Reception

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Critical reception

Alanna Nash of the book, Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Country Music in America called "Walkin' After Midnight," "bluesy,"[5] while Richie Unterberger of Allmusic also praised the song, calling its beat "bouncy" and its overall sound to be different from Rockabilly and country music of the time. Unterberger went on to say, "While Cline's vocal is a little restrained in comparison with the approach she used on her better-known sides in the early 1960s, it's well-suited for the almost bemused aura of loneliness of the lyric. More than any of the other songs she recorded for the 4 Star label in the 1950s, it anticipates the successful country-pop fusion of her crossover hits for Decca in the early 1960s."[6]

Impact and chart performance

On January 28, 1957, Cline was invited to perform a song on the CBS television program hosted by Arthur Godfrey entitled, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. Originally intended to be performed on the show was "A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold)," instead the producers of the show preferred "Walkin' After Midnight" instead. Although Cline did not want to sing, she performed the song song anyways during the 8:30 slot of the program.[7] The applause meter on the show had a technical difficulty and froze during her performance due to the excessive amount of applause from the audience. Because of the great amount of applause Cline won first place in the show that night.[8] Because of the song's popularity on the show, Decca Records (Four Star leased their music to Decca) released "Walkin' After Midnight" as a single on February 11, 1957. The song quickly debuted on the Billboard charts, eventually peaking at #2 on the Hot Country Songs chart and #12 on the Pop chart by March 3. "A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold)" was released as the single's B-side, also charting on the Billboard Country chart at #14.[9] Because the single had become a significant hit, Decca issued her debut album August 5, 1957, simply titled, Patsy Cline. The album however did not contain the flip-side.[10]

Remake and cover versions

Cline re-recorded "Walkin' After Midnight" in 1961 for her second studio album entitled, Patsy Cline Showcase. The new version cut song's time nearly in half because it did not feature an instrumental break. The second version also lacked a steel guitar and also provided background vocals by the group, The Jordanaires. The newer version was later included on Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits in 1967, among other compilations.[6]

Over fourteen artists have recorded cover versions of "Walkin' After Midnight." The first recorded version was by American country artist, Loretta Lynn for her 1977 tribute album to Patsy Cline titled, I Remember Patsy. Canadian rock artist, Bryan Adams recorded a liver version for his 1988 album, Live! Live! Live!. Madeleine Peyroux recorded the song in Jazz format for her 1996 debut album, Dreamland. The Kentucky Headhunters recorded a country version on their 2005 cover album, Big Boss Man.[11]

Personnel

Charts

Chart (1957) Peak position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs[12] 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[12] 12

Notes

References

  • Nassour, Ellis (1993), Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0312088701  
  • Nash, Alanna (2006), Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Country Music in America, DK Publishing, ISBN 0756623529  

External links


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