October 16

Patti Page’s Signature Sad Song in1950, “Tennessee Waltz”

Would you believe that this Patti Page’s “Tennessee Waltz” was covered so many times that it’s impossible to count the versions of this song?

The Story Behind the Song

The artists behind this classic hit were Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart. “Tennessee Waltz” was written back in 1946 when King and Stewart were riding on a truck. During their trip, Bill Monroe’s new song titled “Kentucky Waltz” was playing on the radio. Stewart was inspired and he decided to write a Tennessee Waltz using Pee Wee King’s “No Name Waltz.” Redd wrote the lyrics on a matchbox while he and Stewart were thinking of the words.

The next morning, they presented “Tennessee Waltz” to a music publisher named Fred Rose who adjusted some of Stewart’s lyrics. Unfortunately, this song was not immediately registered for copyright. That’s the reason why the first version of the song was released on January 1948 and peaked at no. 3.

The Success of Patti Page’s Version

Patti Page decided to record a version of the song because it was her father’s favorite song. “Tennessee Waltz” was intended to be on the B-side for her single “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” released in 1950. It was on the B-side because Mercury Records were betting for a Christmas Novelty. “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” disappeared within weeks of its release.

Patti Page. Photo from YouTube via Screengrab
The young Patti Page. Photo from YouTube via Screengrab

Mercury really wanted to concentrate on a Christmas song ad didn’t want anything with many merits on the B-side. Patti Page said in an interview,

“They didn’t want any disc jockeys to turn the Christmas record over. The title of that great Christmas song was “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” and no one ever heard of it.”

“Tennessee Waltz” by Patti Page was the last song to sell a million copies of sheet music. The song was No. 1 on Billboard’s Pop Music Chart at the same concurrent with Country and R&B charts, a feat no other artists in recording history can claim to make this song her career record.


Patti Page

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