Crazy (Willie Nelson song)

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Single by Patsy Cline
from the album Showcase
B-side"Who Can I Count On?"
ReleasedOctober 16, 1961
Format7-inch single
GenreCountry, traditional pop
Songwriter(s)Willie Nelson
Producer(s)Owen Bradley

"Crazy" is a ballad composed by Willie Nelson. It has been recorded by several artists, most notably by Patsy Cline, whose version was a No. 2 country hit in 1962.[2]

Partly due to the genre-blending nature of the song, it has been covered by dozens of artists in several genres over the years; nevertheless, the song remains inextricably linked with Cline. Nelson's own version appears on his 1962 debut album ...And Then I Wrote.


With some help from a friend named Oliver English, Nelson wrote the song in early 1961; at the time he was a journeyman singer-songwriter who had written several hits for other artists but had not yet had a significant recording of his own. Nelson originally wrote the song for country singer Billy Walker who turned it down for the same reason Roy Drusky turned down "I Fall to Pieces" the previous year - that it was "a girl's song". The song's eventual success helped launch Nelson as a performer as well as a songwriter.

Musically the song is a jazz-pop ballad with country overtones and a complex melody. The lyrics describe the singer's state of bemusement at the singer's own helpless love for the object of his affection.

Patsy Cline version[edit]

Patsy Cline was already a country music superstar[citation needed] and looking for material to extend a string of hits.[citation needed] She picked it as a follow-up to her previous big hit "I Fall to Pieces". "Crazy", its complex melody suiting Cline's vocal talent perfectly, was released in late 1961, immediately became another huge hit for Cline and widened the crossover audience she had established with her prior hits. It spent 21 weeks on the chart and eventually became one of her signature tunes. Cline's version is No. 85 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[3]

According to Willie Nelson in an interview with Sirius XM satellite radio he said that he was in a bar called Tootisie's and had put his own song "Crazy" in the jukebox.[4] Patsy Cline's husband heard it and wanted to get it to Patsy. They were both drunk and Willie was reluctant even stayed in the car while her husband played it for her. In the end she recorded it a few weeks later. In another interview Willie says that the song was originally called "Stupid", this matches with the live performance with Johnny Cash where he breaks a guitar string and ends up playing Crazy using Johnny's guitar.[5]

According to the Ellis Nassour biography Patsy Cline, Nelson, who at that time was known as a struggling songwriter by the name of Hugh Nelson, was a regular at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Nashville's Lower Broadway, where he frequented with friends Kris Kristofferson and Roger Miller, both unknown songwriters at that time. Nelson met Cline's husband, Charlie Dick, at the bar one evening and pitched the song to him. Dick took the track home and played it for Cline, who absolutely hated it at first because Nelson's demo "spoke" the lyrics ahead of and behind the beat, about which an annoyed Cline remarked that she "couldn't sing like that".

However, Cline's producer, Owen Bradley, loved the song and arranged it in the ballad form in which it was later recorded. On Loretta Lynn's album I Remember Patsy, Bradley reported that as Cline was still recovering from a recent automobile accident that nearly took her life, she'd had difficulty reaching the high notes of the song on the original production night due to her broken ribs. So after about four hours of trying – in the days of four songs being recorded in three hours – they called it a night. A week later she came back and recorded the lead vocal in one take.

In the same interview, Lynn remembers the first time Cline performed it at the Grand Ole Opry on crutches, and received three standing ovations. Barbara Mandrell remembers Cline introducing the song to her audiences live in concert saying

All my recent hits have come true in my life. I had a hit out called Tra-La-La Triangle and people thought about me and Gerald and Charlie. I had another hit out called 'I Fall to Pieces' and I was in a car wreck. Now I'm really worried because I have a new hit single out and it's called 'Crazy'.

Willie Nelson stated on the 1993 documentary Remembering Patsy that Cline's version of "Crazy" was his favorite song of his that anybody had ever recorded because it "was a lot of magic".[citation needed]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1961) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 2
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 9
U.K. Singles Chart (1990 reissue) 14
Irish Singles Chart (1990 reissue) 14
Australian Kent Music Report 56

LeAnn Rimes version[edit]

Single by LeAnn Rimes
from the album LeAnn Rimes
ReleasedDecember 28, 1999
FormatCD single, digital download
Songwriter(s)Willie Nelson
Producer(s)Wilbur C. Rimes
LeAnn Rimes singles chronology
"Cattle Call"
"I Need You"

Country singer LeAnn Rimes recorded "Crazy" for her self-titled cover album, released in 1999. It was released as the second and final single from the album. She also performed this song at the White House for President George W. Bush and particularly for Laura Bush, who said it was one of her favorite songs.

Track listing[edit]

Europe Single

  1. Crazy
  2. How Do I Live (Extended Mix)
  3. Blue


Chart (1999) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[6] 36

Other versions[edit]

Notable versions include those recorded by Linda Ronstadt who reached #6 on Billboard's Country chart with her version in 1977, Julio Iglesias (hit in the Netherlands, UK and New Zealand), Kenny Rogers (Kenny Rogers version is a completely different song he wrote himself), The Kills, Dottie West, Kidneythieves, LeAnn Rimes, Shirley Bassey, Guy Lombardo, Chaka Khan, Don McLean (Don McClean's is also a completely different song titled, "Crazy Eyes") and The Waifs. (Rogers also wrote and recorded another song with the title "Crazy", which topped the charts in 1984 and shouldn't be confused with this one). In 2007, the song was covered by English alternative band Apartment. Willie Nelson himself has also recorded several versions of the song over the years including a trio version with Elvis Costello and Diana Krall. Additionally, it was covered by the Kidneythieves and co-released on the Bride of Chucky soundtrack.

In 1980 "Crazy" was part of the soundtrack for the Loretta Lynn biography Coal Miner's Daughter and was sung by Beverly D'Angelo who was portraying Patsy Cline.

Norah Jones recorded live in Chicago, House of Blues, April 16, 2002.

Canadian country music singer Colleen Peterson covered the song in 1993. Her version peaked at number 29 on the RPM Country Tracks chart.[7]

Australian singer Gina Jeffreys covered the song on her album, Old Paint (2010).

Canadian musician Neil Young released a cover of this song on his 2014 album A Letter Home.[8]

Melinda Schneider and Beccy Cole covered the song on their album Great Women of Country (2014).

Mary Sarah and Willie Nelson performed a duet of the song on the album "Bridges" (2014) which peaked at 28 on the country Heat Seekers chart in August 2014 [9] Willie Nelson elected to sing the song with The Voice season 10 5th place contestant after hearing her sing the National Anthem and commenting "she can sing the crap outta that song", according to sources close to the project.[10]

Slim Richey recorded a version of "Crazy" with Jitterbug Vipers in Austin, Texas in 2015.[11]

Hayden Panettiere recorded two versions of "Crazy" for Nashville as her character Juliette Barnes (who portrays Patsy Cline in a biopic), one in 2014 heard in the episode "That's Me Without You," and the other in 2015 as a duet with Steven Tyler (playing himself) in the episode "Can't Let Go."

Canadian singer Brigitte Boisjoli [fr] recorded a version of "Crazy" on the album Patsy Cline, on which all songs are from the well-known country musician.[12]

Influential 90s Emo band, Mineral, recorded a version in 1996 for the Band Crazy Vol. 1 compilation from Bzar records.[13] The cover also appeared as a bonus track on the band's 2014 release, Mineral 1994-1998 The Complete Collection, on the second disc for the remastered re-release of &Serenading, the band's second full-length album.[14]

Italian-French singer and former French First Lady Carla Bruni released a cover version on her 2017 album French Touch, featuring Willie Nelson.[15]

In the media[edit]

  • A version of the song can be heard in the 4th episode of the TV show Fringe when the observer is eating in the diner waiting for the Beacon to arrive.
  • Patsy Cline's version of "Crazy" was sung by a sound-alike on the phone in The Simpsons Season 3 episode Stark Raving Dad
  • In 1992, Ross Perot used the song during his political campaign for president.[16]
  • Willie Nelson's own version of "Crazy" can be heard in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on the fictional country radio station K-Rose.
  • The song and album are a central image in as well as helping to name the 2005 Canadian film C.R.A.Z.Y.
  • The song appears on the soundtrack to the videogame Twisted Metal. It is only heard in the game's story cutscenes and does not play during regular gameplay.
  • The song is used as the title music for "What The Fuck Is WRONG With You?!", a series of online videos by Nash Bozard as well as a segment of Bozard's internet radio show Radio Dead Air's Monday night broadcast of the same name, that both humorously relay various news stories of stupidity.
  • The Patsy Cline version of the song appears throughout the video game Deadpool, first when Deadpool sings along with the elevator music version of it and again when Death lip syncs to it.
  • The Patsy Cline version of the song is also featured in the 1991 film Doc Hollywood starring Michael J. Fox.
  • The Patsy Cline version of the song can be heard in the background of the movie Tommy Boy when Richard goes into the gas station.
  • The Patsy Cline version of the song was played in the opening credits of Filipino actor Cesar Montano's film Bilang na ang araw mo (1996), also in the opening scenes where Charlene Gonzales lipsynchs to it.
  • The Patsy Cline versions of the song was also played in another Cesar Montano film Anabelle Huggins Story: Ruben Ablaza Tragedy - Mea Culpa (1995), along with the Julio Iglesias English version.
  • The Patsy Cline version is sung by the character Isa in the Scottish sitcom Still Game.
  • Norah Jones sings "Crazy" on the album House of Blues Chicago, released in 2002.
  • The Rebecca Kilgore version appears in a scene from Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side Part II where an assumed widow dances with her taxidermied husband.
  • The Patsy Cline version is heard in Assassin's Creed.
  • The Patsy Cline version is in the soundtrack of the 2016 video game Mafia III .[17]


  1. ^ "A tribute to Patsy Cline". 1996-06-27. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  2. ^ Collins, Ace (1996). The Stories Behind Country Music's All-time Greatest: 100 Songs. New York: The Berkeley Publishing Group. pp. 157–159. ISBN 978-1-57297-072-4.
  3. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". 2011-04-07. Retrieved 2014-04-07.
  4. ^ "Willie Nelson on Pitching Crazy to Patsy Cline // Willie's Roadhouse". SiriusXM. 28 April 2017 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ "Willie Nelson Visits 'Letterman'". 2012-11-22.
  6. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  7. ^ "RPM Country Tracks". RPM. October 2, 1993. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  8. ^ Greene, Andy (18 April 2014). "Neil Young's New Covers Album Available Right Now: Surprise!". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  9. ^, Roughstock - (2014-08-13). "Country Album Sales Report - August 13, 2014 - RoughStock".
  10. ^ "Mary Sarah duets with Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, more".
  11. ^ "Crazy with Slim Richey by SarahSharp | Sarah Sharp | Free Listening on SoundCloud". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  12. ^ "Brigitte Boisjoli officiel Nouvel album Sans regret |". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  13. ^ "Mineral". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  14. ^ "Mineral - 1994 - 1998: The Complete Collection (CD) at Discogs". 2014-10-24. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  15. ^ Frometa, RJ (September 25, 2017). "Carla Bruni Releases New Cover "Crazy"".
  16. ^ "Ross Perot Biography (Business Personality/Political Figure)". 1930-06-27. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  17. ^ Makuch, Eddie (2016-08-22). "Mafia 3's Excellent Soundtrack Revealed, Contains These 100-Plus Songs". Gamespot. Retrieved 22 March 2017.

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