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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Howard

The Writing of “I Fall To Pieces”

Updated: Apr 3, 2019

Harlan Howard wrote two paragraphs in July 1999 about co-writing the iconic song “I Fall To Pieces” with Hank Cochran. Harlan moved to Nashville on June 6th 1960, so writing “I Fall To Pieces” happened shortly after setting up house in Madison, Tennessee. Here are the two paragraphs Harlan wrote.

In the summer of 1960, here in Nashville, a friend of mine named Hank Cochran stopped by my house on his way to work as a song-plugger for Pamper Music and asked me to help him write a new song he was working on. He then sang me the first two lines of the songs and I liked it. So in the next hour we wrote it.

After Hank left for work, I sang what he had and timed it with my watch and it seemed like it wasn’t long enough, so I wrote another section the same length as the first half and took it to Hank at his office and he liked it and that was about it. Hank took the finished song to Owen Bradley at Decca Records. Owen liked it and started playing it for different singers who were looking for songs. After several rejections, Patsy recorded it and I still love the record as much as I did way back then.

Harlan P. Howard

I love how simplistic Harlan’s recollection is of writing a country standard song. They wrote it in an hour, it was too short; so he added another section. He didn’t mention that “I Fall To Pieces” was on the Billboard charts for an entire year. Harlan wasn’t braggadocios. He didn’t mention that “I Fall To Pieces” was the first song of Patsy Cline’s to have chart success after her hit, “Walking After Midnight.” There was a seven year drought in between the two hits. He didn’t mention that Patsy didn’t love “I Fall To Pieces” and that Owen Bradley made her cut it. Patsy cut Willie Nelson’s song, “Crazy” during the same session. She loved “Crazy” and sang it over and over and kept telling Owen, “one more time, I can do better” yet when she cut “I Fall To Pieces” she sang it a few times and was ready to move on to “Crazy.” For a career and life that ended entirely too prematurely, Patsy Cline made a huge impact in country music. I am proud to have half of “I Fall To Pieces” back home in the catalog of the Legacy of Harlan Perry Howard.

Melanie Smith-Howard

February 11, 2019

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