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Patsy Cline's Lost Christmas Song Surges In Popularity 50 Years After Singer's Death

By Expert Author: Abashley Barnett

Three years before Patsy Cline died in plane crash on March 5, 1963, the beloved country songbird was at the peak of her career and longing to record a Christmas song to give to her fans, according to longtime country music songwriter Lawton Jiles.

Cline, whose hits include "Crazy," and "I Fall to Pieces," commissioned Jiles and his partner Buster Beam to write that song. Sadly, she did not have the opportunity to record it the way it was originally intended. But now, 50 years after Cline's passing, the Jiles/Beam-penned song, "Christmas Without You," is being embraced around the world thanks to chart-topping Star Creek Entertainment recording artist Luanne Hunt.

Hunt's rendition of "Christmas Without You" has racked up an impressive amount of views on Youtube since she released a video for the tune in November 2012. It also has received an overwhelming response from Cline's fans, as well as listeners on popular Internet radios stations like The Sounds of Christmas.

In December, 2011, the melancholy tune went to No. 1 on the European Country Music Association chart in France, Denmark and Austria. It also was the second most played song in Europe during that same month.

"I've always believed if Patsy would have recorded 'Christmas Without You' it would have become a holiday standard," said Jiles, who also has written songs for Porter Wagoner and Janie Fricke. "It's the kind of Christmas song you hear once and want to sing along. It's very simple, but the simple songs are usually the ones people love the most. I'm not surprised Luanne's version is doing so well."

The story behind "Christmas Without You," is an interesting one, indeed. Jiles said Patsy called him one day in the summer of 1960 and asked if he and his collaborator Buster Beam would write a holiday tune for her. The pair, who wrote Cline's Top 10 hit "Let the Teardrops Fall," went to work immediately and penned "Christmas Without You." According to Jiles, Cline was thrilled when she heard their demo and promptly presented it to her label in the hopes they would allow her to record it.

Unfortunately, Cline's representatives were more interested in having her release a non-seasonal song and asked Jiles and Beam to write new lyrics to the existing melody. They quickly came up with different words and the title, "How Can I Face Tomorrow?" The song was released shortly thereafter and only made a modest showing on the Cashbox Country Charts, according to Jiles.

Jiles said he and Patsy were extremely disappointed "Christmas Without You" wasn't recorded in its original form. He hoped another artist would record it someday and couldn't be more delighted with Hunt's production.

"I got a rush when I first heard Luanne's recording of 'Christmas Without You,'" said Jiles, a friend and colleague of Hunt's. "The song's been in my head for years and to hear it done the way I always envisioned it is very exciting. It's a perfect blend of the traditional and contemporary."

"Christmas Without You" was produced by Eric Uglum (Alison Krauss, Ron Block, Ralph Stanley, Cherryholmes and Nickel Creek). It features an impressive twin-fiddle performance by folk/bluegrass fiddle sensation Christian Ward, who has shared the stage with Ricky Skaggs and has toured with Rounder Records artist Sierra Hull. Also on the single are Austin Ward (upright bass), Roger Gillespie (drums), Hal Ratliff (keyboards) and Uglum (guitar, mandolin and harmony vocals).

"I'll never forget the day I recorded Patsy's lost Christmas song," said Hunt. "I was standing there at the studio mic hoping that she (Patsy) was smiling down on me. I know her version would have been phenomenal, but I hope her fans will accept my recording and see it mostly as a tribute to one of the greatest country artists there ever was or ever will be."

"Christmas Without You" is included on Hunt's critically-acclaimed EP, "How Christmas Feels To Me." It is available for download on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and www.luannehunt.com.

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