Stuart Maconie in the Times (£):
Born into a home without electricity and often without food, Clara Ann Fowler was the tenth of the 11 children of an Oklahoma labourer. She worked at a local radio station as a teenager and became Patti Page, the singing voice of a daily show sponsored by the Page Milk Company. She pretty much never looked back. Her recording of The Tennessee Waltz topped the charts for three months. After that came a string of hits that straddled genres and made her a superstar, adored by record buyers here and back home.
She sold more than 100 million records, yet many of the obits contained a sentence something like this from The Independent: “Her reputation was burnished in recent years when rock group The White Stripes covered her 1952 song Conquest on their Grammy-winning 2007 album Icky Thump.” Everything wrong-headed about rock criticism is contained in these few words. A gigantic star who dominated her era almost as completely as Elvis and the Beatles is thought to need the patronage of a pale indie boy guitarist to have any credibility. Hank Williams sold far fewer records than Patti Page. But because he was a self-pitying sot who drank himself to death in 1953, he is canonised by the rock criterati. (They usually trot out some rot about him being “the first punk” or such.) Page, having the female good sense to work hard, take care of business and live till 85, is overlooked by the arbiters of taste.
Well...overstated, no doubt - Hank Williams did write and record some of the greatest ever Country songs, after all - but he has a point. Patti had the misfortune to represent so much of the sliced white culture of the Fifties - a double-tracked Doris Day - that it was just too easy for the spoiled Sixties and Seventies brats to piss all over her. But even the great Bob, in his Theme Time Radio Hour series, went against what we might call the dominant hegemonic Rock narrative to say good things about her when he played "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?". It's pop music which isn't ashamed to be pop music.
Here's her biggest hit:
There's also Old Cape Cod, with a scenic YouTube video which manages to contain plenty of picture-postcard shots of Cornwall, but not one of Cape Cod itself. Some kind of ironic commentary?
Richard Corliss obituary in Time here.