FAA Report Patsy Cline plane crash last phone call

Patsy Cline’s Last Phone Call

A tribute to a legend and a visit to an artifact of the last hours of her existence, published at the exact minute of her passing + 55 years.

Patsy's Cline last phone call

Ms. Cline, backstage with butterflies and sweaty palms, Memorial Hall, Kansas City, 3 March 1963; her final show. Mildred Pierce photo

I’ve always had a queer fascination with youth and death.

Is it the great senselessness of this? That by rule, we’re all supposed to grow old and reminisce about our youth and what we should’ve done differently? Once you roll the celebrity aspect into it, you’ve got youth and death involving someone that in theory has more monumental life experiences in six months than the rest of us do in a lifetime. And perhaps that’s where obsession begins.

I find it quite strange that it took me as long as it did to find out how Patsy Cline died. And when.

Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ sort of spoon-fed the story of Buddy Holly and The Day The Music Died to anyone whose parents had that radio in the basement, with the missing tuning knob, permanently set to the oldies station. My curiosity for that one took me first to the nightmarish autopsy reports of those three singers sudden, violent ends, and then to a much more healthy end, a 2009 pilgrimage to the exact spot of the wreck in a field in northwest Iowa.

I knew Patsy’s hits. They’d cycle through that same oldies station here and there. But I think they (perhaps purposefully) branded her as a minor ‘crossover’ star in the early rock era, not as one of the biggest stars in the history of an entire genre of music.

As you start to dig in a bit, one finds out things that teenage boys just melt for in the concept woman; a public classiness cloaked in just enough mystery to allow for a secret, just between the two of yas, offset by an offstage reputation of being able to keep up with the boys in the three categories we’re taught to hallow the most: cussin’, fightin’, ‘n drinkin’.

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Q: Your name seems either to be an homage, or a real giant coincidence. Nina Simone was a talented, outspoken, incomparable figure in her time. And a legend in ours. What sort of influence has she had on you?

I like to call her my kinda-sorta-maybe namesake. If Kwanzaa didn’t have a principle named “Nia”, I probably would have been named after her. She’s dope; she’s the ultimate innovator. One thing that I’ve learned from her is how to have the courage to be yourself in a world that would rather you fit into a mold of what an “acceptable” woman should be. Even though she dealt with a lot of self-hate and racial discrimination, she eventually grew to who she was destined to be and was dedicated to living her truth. I’m dedicated to that as well; living my truth. I hope that one day I’ll influence a girl that had the same insecurities I had to have that epiphany; that it’s okay to accept themselves. I just hope that one day they’ll do her biopic right because she deserves to have her story told the right way.
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