Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Two Passings - Kitty Wells and Pagliacci's

Word to day of two passings: Kitty Wells, the ‘Queen’ of Country music has died, and long-time North Denver Italian Restaurant, Paglicci’s will close in August. Pagliacci’s, of that wonderful sign that is visible from I-25, has been a fixture in North Denver since 1946. I love the lasagna, the atmosphere and the service. But mostly I love the Minestrone soup, which brings me to a fond memory of the restaurant. It was a cold and wintry night (I think it may actually have been Halloween) and we were coming back from some event or other and decided to eat out before heading home. We stopped at Pagliacci’s. Inside we were told that they were closed. The storm and a lack of customers were the reason. We understood, but as we turned to leave, we remarked that on such a night, we had really been looking forward to some of their great Minestrone. The manager asked us to wait a minute. He went to the kitchen and returned shortly with two quart containers of soup and handed them to us. I asked what I owed, and he said nothing - drive home safely and enjoy the soup. That was Pagliacci’s and that is North Denver. Pagliacci’s will now be gone and North Denver is changing but at least, there is still Patsy’s. I saw Kitty Wells in Scott City, Kansas in, I think, the summer of 1964. I was bowled over. I can still hear her singing the Jimmy Work song ‘Making Believe’. She is the reason I went on to learn and play that song myself. That plaintive voice was made to sing sad country songs. As has been noted in obituary pieces today, she ‘broke’ the male barrier in country music. She, like Maybelle Carter, also accompanied herself on guitar, leading the way for contemporary female country singers like Emmylou Harris. It was still unusual for female country singers in the fifties and sixties to play guitar. She is gone but we still have the music and the legacy.

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