Archive for Mel Torme

30 Days Out (from Christmas): Calling up Mel Torme’

Posted in 30 Days Out (From Christmas) with tags , , , on December 16, 2011 by 30daysout

It was December, 1994 and I was looking for a holiday story. I was working at KTRH Radio in Houston at the time and I had the idea of putting together a montage of artists who had performed “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” to celebrate the song’s 50th anniversary. But in the end, I didn’t think that would do the song justice, so I had the bright idea of calling up one of the song’s composers, the incomparable Mel Torme’. I had interviewed him the year before when he played with the Houston Symphony and had his home number,  so I figured he wouldn’t mind if I gave him a ring.

George: Hello, Mr. Torme’. This is George Kovacik from KTRH Newsradio in Houston.

Torme: Who is this? How did you get this number?

I explained myself and after figuring out I wasn’t trying to steal his first born, he was gracious enough to give me a few minutes and tell me about how one of the greatest Christmas songs of all-time was born.

Torme’ said the tune was penned with buddy Bob Wells on a blistering hot day in Los Angeles in the summer of 1944. The two were trying to keep cool by thinking cool thoughts. He says he began to write down words like “Jack Frost” and “Chestnuts roasting” and “yuletide carols” to get in the winter mood. About 45 minutes later, the song was done and some 66 years later we are still listening to it. I asked Torme’ who he thought recorded the best version and he said hands down, Nat ‘King’ Cole.

Cole and his trio first recorded it in 1946 and then Cole himself recorded it three more times with the string arrangement most commonly heard today. Torme’ recorded the song four times himself. At the end of our interview, Mr. Torme’ thanked me for calling him and told me to call him anytime. What a difference 10 minutes makes. Working in news wasn’t easy or profitable, but talking to guys like Mel Torme’ sure made it worth it.

30 Days Out (From Christmas) – A Jewish Christmas

Posted in Christmas with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2008 by 30daysout


Day 14 – As we all know those of the Jewish faith don’t celebrate Christmas, but instead Hannukah, or the Festival of Lights, an eight-day holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd Century BCE. It starts on the 25th Day of the Kislev according to the Hebrew Calendar.

The lack of a Christmas tree, Santa Claus, and everything else that goes along with Christmas hasn’t stopped some of the biggest stars from recording holiday tunes. Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, Simon and Garfunkel, Barry Manilow, Mitch Miller and the great Herb Alpert just to name a few have all laid down Christmas tracks. Kenny G sold millions of Christmas albums, and two of the most popular yuletide songs in history, “White Christmas” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” were written by Irving Berlin and Mel Torme, respectively. Both happened to be Jewish.

MP3: “O Little Town of Bethlehem” – Neil Diamond

MP3: “Ave Maria” – Barbara Streisand

MP3: “Because It’s Christmas” – Barry Manilow

MP3: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” – Mitch Miller and the Gang

MP3: “River” – Robert Downey Jr.

Mp3: “The Bell That Couldn’t Jingle” – Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass

MP3: “The 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night” – Simon and Garfunkel

Mp3: “White Christmas” – Kenny G

Mp3 – “The Christmas Song” – Mel Torme