Still the Rage

Even at 73, Patti Page isn't ready to fade away just yet

"And if you think about it, they don't call Barbra Streisand 'antiquated.' And she has the same type of songs. And all the time that Elvis was on the chart--well, on the same chart were songs like 'Allegheny Moon.' And I think this is where I get a little angry that the media has not given me the credit that was due me for some of the things that I did."

That's as close as Patti Page comes to approaching upset. Even her Web site has a courtesy title--www.misspattipage.com. She is as her music has always been: refined, polite, on the mark...and remembered most for one song.

For it is "Tennessee Waltz" that brings her full circle, that closes her new album and reaches back five decades into a post-war bliss to which she gave voice. It brought her last year to the storied Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, where she debuted the songs on Brand New Tennessee Waltz for the appreciative crowd. She had never done a solo show there. Oh, she had performed on that stage, on the Johnny Cash television show, years ago. But never a concert. The crowd made loud during all her songs, the old ones and the new. But at concert's end, when she began singing the waltz, that's when they jumped to their feet. "I got something in my throat at the end," Page says, laughing. "They were applauding at the beginning of the song, in the middle. ...It was quite emotional.

"You know," she continues, "I've never stopped thinking about the magic of this song, because I've never stopped performing it, and people still ask me about it wherever I go."

Because they remember. And so does she. She remembers when crowds used to rise like that when she sang, all those touching, welcome memories. She remembers that it was these people who blessed her life. But also, she remembers that of all the songs Clara Ann Fowler sang, "Tennessee Waltz" was her father's favorite. It was, it is, her everlasting gift.

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