Walkin' After Midnight
|"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|
|Recorded||November 8, 1956
Bradley Film and Recording Studios
|Writer(s)||Alan Block, Donn Hecht|
|Patsy Cline singles chronology|
"Walkin' After Midnight" is a song written by Alan Block and Donn Hecht and recorded by American country music artist Patsy Cline. The song was originally given to pop singer Kay Starr; however, her label rejected it. The song was left unused until Hecht rediscovered it when writing for Four Star Records. Originally Cline was not fond of "Walkin' After Midnight", but 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 strong response from viewers and was therefore rush-released as a single February 11, 1957. "Walkin' After Midnight" became Cline's first major hit single, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard country music chart and No. 12 on its pop chart. Although the song was her only hit until 1961, the single version sold over one million copies and is often included on authoritative lists of the all-time greatest songs in country music.
Background and composition
Alan Block and Donn Hecht wrote the song a few years before Cline recorded it. According to Hecht, after securing a songwriting contract with Four Star Records, his assignment was to pick an artist from the label whom 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", originally intended for traditional pop artist Kay Starr. Starr's record label had rejected the original version, and it was left unused for years. After rediscovering the song, Hecht made some minor changes 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. "Walkin' After Midnight" was then recorded at the Bradley Film and Recording Studios on November 8, 1956 and was produced by Paul Cohen, along with "A Poor Man's Roses", "The Heart You Break May Be Your Own", and "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down".
"Walkin' After Midnight" is a country pop song with stylistic elements taken from the genres of jazz, traditional pop, and blues. The song was recorded in the key of C major and follows the traditional AABA form.  "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, who played on most of the recording sessions on RCA Victor and Decca Records. Among the musicians were Harold Bradley, Grady Martin, and Bob Moore, all of whom would later play on Cline's later records in the early 1960s.
Alanna Nash of the book Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Country Music in America, called "Walkin' After Midnight" "bluesy"; Richie Unterberger of Allmusic also praised the song, calling its beat "bouncy" and its overall sound 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."
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. She originally intended to perform "A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold)" on the show; instead the show's producers preferred "Walkin' After Midnight". Although Cline did not want to sing it, she performed the song during the program's 8:30 pm slot. The excessive amount of audience applause caused a technical difficulty and froze the applause meter on the show. Because of the great amount of applause, Cline won first place in the show that night. And 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 No. 2 on the Hot Country Songs chart and No. 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 No. 14. Because "Walkin' After Midnight" had become a significant hit, Decca issued Cline's debut album August 5, 1957, simply titled, Patsy Cline. The album, however, did not contain the flip side.
Cline later re-recorded "Walkin' After Midnight" for Decca with a more "pop" arrangement that featured backing vocals and a pronounced "clip clop" percussion effect, as well as a modulation to the key of C# for the final verse. Although this version is sometimes heard as an "oldie" on country playlists, it is not the version that was the hit single.
- Harold Bradley – acoustic guitar
- Owen Bradley – piano
- Patsy Cline – lead vocals
- Farris Coursey – drums
- Don Helms – steel guitar
- Tommy Jackson – fiddle
- Grady Martin – electric guitar
- Bob Moore – acoustic bass
- Paul Cohen - record producer
|Chart (1957)||Peak position|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs||2|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||12|
In popular culture
In The Unit episode 2.15, "The Water is Wide", Sergeant First Class Hector Williams, aka Hammerhead (played by Demore Barnes), sings the first few bars of the song to calm the United Nations Secretary General, who has stepped on a pressure bomb, and to manage the pace while he delicately eases the dignitary off the device's pressure pad and himself onto it, until such time as The Unit can defuse it. Time is of the essence; the Secretary General is experiencing muscle spasms (which could detonate the bomb) and cannot hold still much longer. The song serves its purpose; Williams successfully takes the Secretary General's place, after which Williams remarks, "Damn, if I can remember" the song's next lines.
- Nassour 1993, pp. 61–65
- "Patsy Cline's Recording Sessions - The Four Star Years". Patsified. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
- Nash 2006, p. 239
- Nassour 1993, p. 67
- Nash 2006, p. 239
- Unterbeger, Richie. ""Walkin' After Midnight" > Song review". allmusic. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
- Nassour 1993, pp. 72–73
- Nassour 1993, p. 74
- Nassour 1993, p. 81
- Nassour 1993, p. 91
- "Charts & awards > singles". allmusic. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
- "The Unit: 'The Water is Wide'". IMDb. 2007.