Love Always, Patsy: Patsy Cline’s Letters To A Friend
In the fall of 1955, Patsy Cline struck up a correspondence with Treva Miller, a teenage country music fan from Tennessee, who wrote offering to set up a fan club. Cline, who’d just released her first single, “A Church, A Courtroom And Then Goodbye”, the previous July, agreed. Their correspondence quickly passed from fan-club-related concerns to a close friendship. Love Always, Patsy collects Cline’s letters to Miller, Miller’s letters to Cline having been lost over the years. The result is as close as we will get to a Patsy Cline autobiography.
The years 1955-59 — the period covered here — were a time of struggle for Cline. Though she signed with 4 Star Records in 1954 and began releasing records for Coral (a subsidiary of Decca) in 1955, the big break she needed eluded her. Cline’s letters reveal the extent of her frustration. Despite a rigorous performing schedule, she saw little in the way of income; in January ’57, a month before “Walkin’ After Midnight” was released, Cline writes: “I believe if I was out of debt, I’d just stop singing all together.” The following year, Cline notes how she enjoys taking a break from singing: “I feel better than I’ve felt in four years. I feel like a human being again” — a surprising comment from such a vibrant performer.
But most of the letters are upbeat, as Cline relates each new step in her career with a wide-eyed enthusiasm. Details of Cline’s offstage life also help give a more complete, and amusing, picture of the singer. In a February ’56 letter, full of troubles about her marriage, Cline vows she’ll never get married again. There’s nothing like tempting fate; two months later, Cline met Charlie Dick, who would become her second husband.
The book reproduces Cline’s handwritten letters and postcards, with a complete transcription following each letter (accompanying footnotes clarify some personal details). Photos from Miller’s personal collection are also reproduced, as is an issue of the fan club’s newsletter. Sadly, there is no happy ending to this story: Miller died in a car crash in 1960, three years before Cline’s airplane crash in 1963. Love Always, Patsy offers a bittersweet look at a music legend before fame, and fate, engulfed her.