Seems to me that we’re overdue for another edition of Country Catalyst. For those who don’t know or remember, CC is the newest of our Special Features, and it offers the chance to spotlight classic country songs that had something extra — the ability to make new fans among folks who usually don’t care for country music. Today’s nominee is “Sweet Dreams” — sometimes known as “Sweet Dreams (Of You)”.
The song was originally written and recorded in honky tonk style by Don Gibson in the mid-1950s, but the talented singer/songwriter was still in the early stages of what would become a Hall of Fame career, so even though it did well on the charts it didn’t cause a big stir. However, when Faron Young — who was already an established star — recorded the song in 1956 it became a much bigger hit, but it still had that twangy sound.
It was doomed singer Patsy Cline who would end up completing the transition of the song, but not quite as you might think. Even though the 1985 biographical film starring Jessica Lange borrowed its title from the song and also featured a scene that showed the actress singing it (actually Patsy’s recording) in a lush, staged orchestral setting, it didn’t happen quite like that.
It was one of the songs the enormously talented Patsy recorded for a new album she was working on early in 1963, shortly before the plane crash that took her life. It’s been said that she had mixed feelings about the addition of strings to the studio orchestra, worrying that her fans would think she’d gone too far to the pop music side. After her death, the album she’d been working on was cancelled and a new double album titled The Patsy Cline Story was issued. Not surprisingly, it was a big success and fans liked “Sweet Dreams” just fine. It has since become a country and pop standard.