November 8, 2008
Written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard
“I Fall to Pieces” is a part of country music’s culture due to its heartbreaking content and the lush musical setting that stands as Cline’s signature sound. The tale of a woman’s loss of hope after the end of a love affair connected with a mass audience upon its release in 1961 and continues to be a landmark of the genre.
The song was written by legendary songwriters Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard, who met in California in the early 1960s and soon became writing partners. One night, Cochran came up with a title, and he met up with Howard at his house the next day, where they finished writing the song. The demo version was recorded by Howard’s wife and country singer, Jan Howard. Harlan Howard pitched the song to Decca producer, Owen Bradley, who then attempted to pitch the song across Nashville. “I Fall to Pieces” was turned down numerous times, first by Brenda Lee, who found the song “too country” for her pop style. Bradley then asked Roy Drusky to record it, but he turned it down, believing it to be a woman’s song. Patsy Cline overheard Drusky’s argument with Bradley about the song and asked if she could record it instead.
When Cline began recording the song in November 1960, she felt that a pop-leaning number would not suit her voice or her music, but after several arguments with Bradley, she relented and sang “I Fall to Pieces” in the manner he intended. By August 1961, the sophisticated ballad had peaked at No. 1 on the country chart (her first No. 1) and reached No. 12 on the pop chart. It would be one of several crossover hits for Cline, whose inimitable voice continues to inspire legions of fans.