Life Lessons From Patti Page

Patti Page, who was born in Oklahoma as Clara Ann Fowler, passed away at the age of 85 on 2013’s New Year’s Day. While her most famous song and my favorite is probably “Tennessee Waltz,” that is not the first song of hers that comes to my mind.

When I think of Patti Page, I think of one of the first songs I remember hearing as a child: her endearing recording of the song, “(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window?

“(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window?”

“(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window?” was recorded in December 1952, awhile before I was born.  But my parents had the 1957 Patti Page Sings 1, 2, 3 album with the song on it. On this album, Page also told a story with the song about a dog named Arfie. Years later when we got a dog, I strongly advocated for naming our dog “Arfie,” but I lost.

I also remember that the dog story and the song used to creep me out. For some reason, the tale about the dog, who was threatened with being sent back to the pound, and about the attempted home invasion by burglars made me feel less secure.

I found the story recording on YouTube, and well, it still kind of creeps me out. Why is this recording for children?

“Tennessee Waltz”

On the other hand, “Tennessee Waltz” is a beautiful song for adults about losing a love. Although Cowboy Copas first released the song in 1947, it is Patti Page’s version from 1950 that we remember because of the way her voice captures the sadness in the song.

Few singers and few songs capture lost love the way Page does here. It is not surprising that Page’s version of “Tennessee Waltz” was No. 1 on the pop, country and R&B charts.

On Film

It was not until I read the obituaries, though, that I was reminded that Page also starred in Elmer Gantry (1960) with Burt Lancaster. In this clip, you get to hear her singing a hymn, “Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart.”

Well, Ms. Page, I never got a dog named “Arfie.” But your recordings gave me warnings about some of the scary parts of life, like lost pets, threats to a sense of security, and the tragedy of lost love. So I am thankful for the warnings. Rest in peace.

What is your favorite Patti Page song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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