Crazy (Willie Nelson song)

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Crazy - Patsy Cline.jpg
Single by Patsy Cline
from the album Showcase
B-side"Who Can I Count On?"
ReleasedOctober 16, 1961
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] This version is included on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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,[citation needed] 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 their affection.

Interviewed for the Ken Burns 2019 American PBS TV miniseries Country Music, Nelson says he originally titled the song "Stupid", but changed it after playing it at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and getting fan reaction.

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 features the background vocals of the Jordanaires. It spent 21 weeks on the chart[which?] and eventually became one of her signature tunes. In 2011, Cline's version was ranked No. 85 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, becoming the third highest ranked song by a solo female artist, after "Respect" by Aretha Franklin at #5 and "Walk on By" by Dionne Warwick at #70.[3] In 2021, the song was ranked No. 195 on an update of the same list.[4]

According to Willie Nelson in an interview with Sirius XM satellite radio, he was at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and had put his own song "Crazy" in the jukebox.[5] Patsy Cline's husband heard it and wanted to get it to Patsy. They were both drunk, and Willie was reluctant to go, and he 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 originally was called "Stupid".[6]

According to Ellis Nassour's biography Patsy Cline, Nelson, then a struggling songwriter known as Hugh Nelson, was a regular at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Nashville's Lower Broadway, which he frequented with friends Kris Kristofferson and Roger Miller, both also unknown songwriters at this 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; 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 later was recorded. On Loretta Lynn's album I Remember Patsy, Bradley reported that as Cline still was 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 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 that Cline's version of "Crazy" was his favorite song of his that anybody has recorded because it "was a lot of magic".[7]


All credits are adapted from the original liner notes of Showcase.[8]

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
Australian Kent Music Report 56
Chart (1987) Peak
UK Singles Chart[9] 79
Chart (1990–91) Peak
Irish Singles Chart 14
UK Singles Chart[10] 14

LeAnn Rimes version[edit]

Single by LeAnn Rimes
from the album LeAnn Rimes
ReleasedDecember 28, 1999
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 (OCC)[11] 36

Other versions[edit]

Notable versions include those recorded by Linda Ronstadt who reached No. 6 on Billboard's country chart with her version in 1977, Julio Iglesias (hit in the Netherlands, UK and New Zealand), The Kills, Dottie West, Shirley Bassey, Guy Lombardo, Chaka Khan, and The Waifs. (Kenny 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 has 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 it live in Chicago at the House of Blues on 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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14] Willie Nelson elected to sing the song on The Voice after hearing a contestant sing the National Anthem and commenting "she can sing the crap outta that song".[15]

Slim Richey recorded a version of "Crazy" with Jitterbug Vipers in Austin, Texas in 2015.[16]

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."

In 1998, Rebecca Kilgore recorded her rendition for the animated film Gary Larson's Tales from the Far Side II.

Canadian singer Brigitte Boisjoli recorded a version of "Crazy" on the album Patsy Cline, on which all songs are from the well-known country musician.[17]

Influential 1990s Emo band Mineral recorded a version in 1996 for the Band Crazy Vol. 1 compilation from Bzar records.[18] The cover also appeared as a bonus track on the band's 2014 release Mineral 1994-1998 The Complete Collection.[19]

Italian-French singer and former French First Lady Carla Bruni released a cover version on her 2017 album French Touch, featuring Willie Nelson.[20]

Josh Turner Guitar released a YouTube cover of the song Crazy with Allison Young as vocalist and Joshua Lee Turner playing guitar and singing backup vocals (and backup whistles) on 5 November 2018. This popular video has over 2 million views.[21]

Canadian singer Jessie Reyez released an R&B cover of the song on 15 November 2019.[22]


  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. ^ "Crazy ranked #195 on Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs List". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 5, 2021.
  5. ^ "Willie Nelson on Pitching Crazy to Patsy Cline // Willie's Roadhouse". SiriusXM. 28 April 2017 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ "Willie Nelson Visits 'Letterman'". 2012-11-22.
  7. ^ "Remembering Patsy". TH Entertainment. 1994-08-04.
  8. ^ Cline, Patsy (November 27, 1961). "Showcase (LP Liner Notes & Album Information)". Decca Records. DL 74202.
  9. ^ "Official Charts Company". 1987-03-28. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  10. ^ "Official Charts Company". 1990-12-08. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  11. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  12. ^ "RPM Country Tracks". RPM. October 2, 1993. Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  13. ^ Greene, Andy (18 April 2014). "Neil Young's New Covers Album Available Right Now: Surprise!". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  14. ^, Roughstock - (2014-08-13). "Country Album Sales Report - August 13, 2014 - RoughStock".
  15. ^ "Mary Sarah duets with Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, more".
  16. ^ "Crazy with Slim Richey by SarahSharp | Sarah Sharp | Free Listening on SoundCloud". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  17. ^ "Brigitte Boisjoli officiel Nouvel album Sans regret |". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  18. ^ "Mineral". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  19. ^ "Mineral - 1994 - 1998: The Complete Collection (CD) at Discogs". 2014-10-24. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  20. ^ Frometa, RJ (September 25, 2017). "Carla Bruni Releases New Cover "Crazy"".
  21. ^ "Hear Joshua Lee Turner and Allison Young Cover Patsy Cline's "Crazy"". November 5, 2018.
  22. ^ Slingerland, Calum (November 15, 2019). "Hear Jessie Reyez Cover Patsy Cline's "Crazy"". Exclaim!. Retrieved 16 November 2019.

External links[edit]