Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline were close friends

A Day Away by Mike Steely

Camden, Tenn., is west of Nashville on Highway 70 and 641. The small town is in Benton County and has about 4,000 residents. Unfortunately, its claim to fame is the engraved rock where famed country music artist Patsy Cline was killed, along with other artists, in a tragic plane crash.

We lost Loretta Lynn recently and many people don’t know what great friends she was with Patsy Cline. Cline was almost back home in Nashville when the little plane crashed, just 2.5 miles north of Camden in 1963. Loretta was new to Nashville and became very close to Cline, who was her mentor and best pal.

Patsy Cline was only 30 years old and, with the song “Crazy” written by Willie Nelson, had crossed over from country to pop music and was at the height of her career. There’s a museum in Nashville dedicated to her and her career at 119 3rd Avenue South on the second level above the Johnny Cash Museum.

My wife and I visited the plane crash site many years ago. Back then it was well off the road and consisted only of a large boulder inscribed with the names of Cline and other victims. Today there’s a paved road to the site, a parking lot, and a paved walkway to the monument.

When Loretta Lynn learned of Patsy’s death, she rushed over to her friend’s home to comfort Patsy’s husband Charlie. While there she felt inspired to write a song in memory of her friend. She took a few minutes, grabbed a guitar and played the tune for Charlie.

Two days later she recorded the song, “The Haunted House,” which was released on Lynn’s 1964 album “Before I’m Over You.”

There’s a museum at the Loretta Lynn Ranch near Nashville at 8000 Highway 13 South in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., 37078. There’s also a museum at her childhood home in Butcher Hollow at 1917 Millers Creek in Van Lear, Ky., 41265.

If you’re visiting the Nashville area or Camden you might want to also visit the Museum of Country Music or the Ryman Auditorium.