While driving into work this week, I heard part of a special on Sirius XM honoring Nat King Cole in honor of his 100th birthday. The part that I heard was from a special done on WNEW radio in New York. It was some DJ interviewing Nat, having him sing songs and play piano. For Tune Tuesday, since his 100th birthday would have been March 17th, I thought I would share a few of my favorite Nat King Cole songs. I guess this blog should be titled Tune(s) Tuesday.
Before I post my favorites, let me say that Nat King Cole was truly one of the great voices in American music. He was first known for being a jazz pianist (he had some classical training), and then began singing with the Nat King Cole Trio. His dad was a Baptist pastor and one of Nat’s early hits “Straighten Up and Fly Right” was inspired by one of his dad’s sermons.
In the 1950’s he became a solo performer and had many pop hits. When Rock and Roll music came on the scene in the mid-1950’s, his career began to dwindle, but not for long. He, like many, poked fun of Rock and Roll and often did a song in his live act called “Mr. Cole Won’t Rock and Roll”. In the 60’s he reached the charts again with a couple hits.
He was the first African American performer to host his own TV Variety show in 1956. He had many stars on the show, but the lack of a national sponsor led to the demise of the show. He appeared in movies Istanbul, China Gate, St. Louis Blues (playing blues legend WC Handy), and Cat Ballou (with Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin).
Nat was a very heavy smoker. He often credited smoking for giving his voice the unique baritone sound that it had. He even mentioned in the special I heard on Sirius XM how important it was to smoke, and even told the host that if smoked more, it would improve his singing voice. Sadly, smoking is what led to his early death. In 1964, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was only a few months after the diagnosis that he succumbed to the disease (February 15, 1965) at the very young age of 45.
With the Nat King Cole Trio – probably my favorite version of this song.
Answer Me My Love
Beautiful song about a guy who has lost his one and only.
Yes, it’s about the painting.
When I Fall In Love
WOW! One of his best right here. I could listen to this over and over
One of those songs from Nat that you rarely get to hear. It is really a wonderful arrangement and pretty song.
A Blossom Fell
My great uncle actually recorded this song when I was a kid at some local recording studio. That was how I was introduced to this song. I often think of him when I hear this song.
Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer
This one always reminds me of my days at Honey Radio. We often played summer songs when the season changed and this was one of those songs. It’s a feel good song – gotta love the banjo!
A song that was written by the great Charlie Chaplin, this is one of those perfect songs. Many have recorded this song, but Nat’s version remains the one that remains my favorite version.
Nat’s last recording. It can be heard in many movie soundtracks and one of his best!
Nat had so many wonderful songs. He was a talent that was taken from us much too soon. Give a listen to his other hits Orange Colored Sky, Ramblin’ Rose, The Very Thought of You, I Love You for Sentimental Reasons, Unforgettable, and, of course, The Christmas Song.
Happy 100th Birthday, Nat! Thanks for the music and melodies!