The Christmas Song

SUNDAY, December 15, 2019

Nat King Cole…

Born He as born Nathaniel Adams Coles, and later he adopted the middle name of “King” for professional reasons.

Another man whose life was cut short early…

Like so many other monumentally talented musicians, he did not lead a long life, true also of people like Gershwin, Chopin, Schubert, Mendelssohn. In the case of him and so many others, often “the good die young”, literally.

He was the first African American performer to host a variety TV series…

The short story is that his show did fine in the ratings but was unable to get a solid sponsor, and the problems with the show were caused solely because of racial discrimination. He was universally admired by other musicians and stars, but Jim Crow still ruled in much of the US in the 50s, only beginning to get rolled back around 1965.

He died at age 45 from lung cancer shortly before his 46th birthday…

Young people will find it hard to believe what a strangle-hold the tobacco industry had on everyone, and Nat was just another person whose life might have lasted decades more without his smoking habit. So many people died young because of cigarettes.

Jack Benny was one of the most famous admirers of Nat…

Many people supported Nat King Cole, but Jack Benny may have been one of the most successful big stars who was always an admirer. This show is from a very different time and won’t make sense to most young people, but in it’s day it was hugely popular and influentialL

While in the hospital he refused visitors…

He wanted to be left alone, and his privacy was very important. He knew his illness was terminal although the truth was kept from world until the very end. But made an exception to talk to Jack Benny, who was one of the last people to see him alive. It’s important to remember that among artists and entertainers there has never really been a racial barrier. Musicians care about only one thing: can you cut the music? If the answer is yes, you’re in.

Another traditionally trained pianist…

He started out playing traditional music in lessons by age 12, so although he moved to jazz you can see that the essential foundation was there.

Another high school dropout…

At age 15 he dropped out of school to pursue a music career. I wonder if someone said, “Nat, you need to finish school.” But it turned out very well for him

He did not start out as a singer…

He was known as a jazz pianist and in fact had a fine reputation as an instrumentalist . This supports my idea that the best musicians on the planet play piano but also play another instrument or sing. Those two things combined are incredibly powerful.

I can’t find information about vocal training…

I’ve searched, but I can’t information about his ever having taken singing lessons. This does not seem possible, since his vocal technique and diction were both on an incredibly high level, and normally that only comes with formal training. If he did not get such training, it only magnifies the natural talent this man was born with.

He worked right until his death, knowing that he had a terminal illness, in order leave a cushion for his family…

In other words, he was not only one of the finest musicians who has ever lived, he was in all ways a fine human being.

The Christmas Song…

This was one of the most popular songs ever recorded. We hear it every Christmas. Nat’s recording may be the most famous of all.

4 thoughts on “The Christmas Song

  1. It is a soothing, musical voice I’ve loved long before I knew the name attached to it. I’m only catching up to his background. I found out that enunciation came from his father, a minister, who insisted on it, but nothing about singing. He also broke through musical stereotypes that were expected at the time.

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