Friday, December 23, 2011

Nat King Cole sings "The Christmas Song"

In keeping with my promise to list my top three favourite Christmas songs, I give you number two: "The Christmas Song."

Mel Torme
I think most people know that vocalist Mel Torme co-wrote this one. They may not know that his collaborator was Bob Wells. In any case,  the legend associated with its composition has received a fair bit of play, but I'll repeat it, briefly.

It had something to do with the fact that Torme and Wells were trying to think cool thoughts on a very hot summer day and in the process of writing down things that might remind them of a less a sweltering time, they came up with "The Christmas Song" in something like 40 minutes. Good story.

The Nat King Cole Trio first recorded it in 1946. A while later a second recording was done with strings, and redone a couple more times after that, again, with strings. Apparently, the 1961 version, the fourth recording, is the one with which most people are familiar.

A lot of artists have, of course, recorded "The Christmas Song" including Torme himself, several times in fact. The Wikipedia entry lists about a hundred who have taken a shot at it including: Bob Dylan, James Brown, Hootie and the Blowfish, The Jackson 5, and The Partridge Family. Really sorry, I'm not familiar with that last one.

It's a Christmas classic, one of the best loved. I'm partial to the Nat King Cole version, but like Torme's take as well as versions by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.  It's just not Christmas without those chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Somebody went through a lot of trouble to pull together some great stills of Nat King Cole. Nice job.

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