Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

"I've seen the Mona Lisa ..."

Patti Page
Actually I haven't seen the Mona Lisa. It's in the Louvre, and I have been to Paris only once--in 1999, on my way elsewhere (Switzerland)--and did not have time to visit anything but the snack bar at the train station.

But I got to thinking about it the other day when yet another old song popped in my head and would not go away. (A couple of weeks ago it was Gogi Grant and "The Wayward Wind.")

Here's how it happened. A former student from years ago surprised me with a visit in the coffee shop yesterday, and she was telling me about how much her wee ones had loved Times Square when she'd recently taken them there.

Later that evening, on a drive over to Aurora, I told Joyce about it, and it was then that the old song that begins with the words "I've seen the Mona Lisa ..." popped into my memory, where, somewhere, it had been lurking, apparently, for a long, long time.

I could not remember most of the lyrics (see below)--nor who the performer had been. But when I got home, I checked my supplementary memory (Google) and discovered it had been Patti Page. 1958.

Patti Page. I'd totally forgotten about her--and, to be honest, I could have sworn it was a man who'd recorded the song. (Foul memory!) Reading about her online, I discovered she had been the biggest seller in the 1950s (Elvis and others would soon surpass her). I was sad to learn, too, that she'd died on New Year's Day, 2013 (Times obit). I was happy to see, though, that she'd been born in Oklahoma (as was I!). Her hometown was Claremore (140 miles east of Enid, my home), also the town of Will Rogers. (Not a bad output for Claremore!)

Looking at lists of her hits, I remembered, especially, "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?"--a 1952 song I recall from my Oklahoma days (we moved to Ohio in Aug. 1956). And I can remember hearing it, over and over, when I spent hot summer afternoons at the Phillips University outdoor pool in Enid.

"These Worldly Wonders," as you can see below, was released in April 1958. It was the spring of my 8th grade year. Eighth grade. Not my best year academically. (I was kind of--messed up.) Eighth grade. The level I would end up teaching (English) for about half of my career--a "half" I greatly enjoyed. Loved, really. 1982-1997 were those 8th-grade teaching years.

But here's an odd thing. I've not been able to find on YouTube or elsewhere any recordings of Page singing that song. Lots of others are there. (Especially "Tennessee Waltz"--and here's a link to "How Much Is That Doggie ...?) Hard to believe that a song like "Doggie" could ever have been a top hit with teens. But it was. Anyway, if any of you more skilled in searches than I can find a recording (free!), well, I'll be grateful if you send me the link. (I take it back: I just found it!) (Link)

Anyway, the song is now "out" of my head (I think/hope), but I'm grateful it emerged from its hiding place recently. Music--as you know--is one vehicle you take on your journeys to the past.**

Phil Medley

as recorded by Patti Page
with Vic Schoen & his Orchestra
released April 10th 1958

I've seen the Mona Lisa,
The leaning tower of Pisa,
I've even sailed at night upon the Nile.
I must confess I love these worldly wonders,
But I'd rather see your smile!

I've been to see the ballet
And strolled along Pigalle,
Oh I've been thrilled by Paris and its charms.
To tell the truth I love these worldly wonders,
But I'd rather be in your arms!

Everywhere I go,
People seem to know
I'm not travellin' for the sake of art!
Just one look at me
And it's plain to see
I'm tryin' to hide a broken heart! (a broken broken broken heart)

I've had my French and Latin,
Now I want Manhattan,
I wanna kiss you on Fifth Avenue!
The thrills I've found in all these worldly wonders
Can't compare to the wonders of you! (the wonders of you)

I've had my French and Latin,
Now I want Manhattan,
I wanna kiss you on Fifth Avenue!
The thrills I've found in all these worldly wonders

Can't compare to the wonder of you!

**I see that "Worldly Wonders" was on the flip side of her 45 rpm release that featured "Another Time, Another Place." I've been surprised to see that "Wonders" is not exactly featured on Page-related sites. Not sure why ...?

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