Tuesday, August 28, 2018

"Walking After Midnight" / Patsy Cline

Working late, I often take my dog for a walk in the wee hours. So this gorgeously haunting track, written by Donn Hecht and Alan Black, often pops into my late-night soundtrack. I'll walk around the Upper West Side of NYC crooning this 1957 hit that catapulted my girl Patsy into country-music stardom.

Like a lot of Patsy's stuff, this is all about the heartache of lost love.  The loping country arrangement, the plangent narrative -- as she strolls around town lamenting a failed relationship -- it's doomed but oh so yearning. "I go out walkin' after midnight / Out in the moonlight / Just like we used to do, I'm always walkin' / After midnight, searchin' for you." There's a surprisingly sophisticated melodic thing going on here, the cresting sound on "walkin'" and "moonlight," and "midnight."

As the song rambles on, details set the restless scene -- the weeping willow, the gloomy skies, the whispering night winds. In the last chorus, she tries to convince herself that this guy may also be strolling around searching for her, but I'm betting even she knows that's just not gonna happen. 
No, it's just Patsy with her supple yearning contralto, working through her lonesome grief. Doesn't matter who the guy is, it's just the being alone that hurts. The beat plods along like her numb footsteps, but the melody skips upwards, twirling on those top notes. And there we are in the night with Patsy, walking aimlessly, brooding, putting that broken heart back together.


Rob said...

Recently started following your blog. As I'm currently going through my own romantic heartache, this post and song hit home for me. Keep up the good work!

george herman said...

I've been lurking your blog for years. I'm a childhood friend of Lori and found this blog via her facebook. Aside from enjoying your taste (Elvis, Nick, Ray, etc.), I think you're very insightful and an evocative writer

On topic, I also like Madeleine Peyroux's version -she has some Billie Holiday aspects to her singing that suit this song. i also like Margo Timmins' version with Cowboy Junkies, but Eddi Reader's version with Fairground Attraction (who I love) is far too peppy for heartache.