Archive for Nat “King” Cole

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): Crooners

Posted in 30 Days Out (From Christmas) with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2008 by 30daysout

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Day 11 – Let’s face it, the best Christmas songs were written and recorded in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s, with a few exceptions. Versions of holiday classics like “White Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” andywilliams“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and “Winter Wonderland” by Nat ‘King” Cole, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams and Dean Martin are still most popular all these years later.  Why?  Most likely because these guys could really sing.  

MP3: “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams

MP3: “Christmas Is A-Comin'” by Bing Crosby

MP3: “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Johnny Mathis

MP3: “The Christmas Waltz” by Frank Sinatra   sinatra3

MP3: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Tom Jones & Cery Matthews

MP3: “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Lou Rawls

MP3: “Silver Bells” by Al Martino 

MP3: “Christmas Time All Over The World” by Sammy Davis Jr.

MP3: “Jingle Bell Hustle” by Wayne Newton

MP3: “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Dean Martin

YouTube: “The Christmas Song” by Nat “King” Cole

YouTube:”Happy Holidays/It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” by Perry Como

YouTube: “My Favorite Things” by Tony Bennett