Tag Archives: Nat King Cole

Song: “At Last”

The definitive version of At Last was recorded by Etta James in 1960. Uploaded by media.avclub.com.

It’s the 1960 recording by Etta James that makes the list of Great American Things. The song itself has been around since 1941, when Mack Gordon and Harry Warren wrote it for the movie musical Orchestra Wives.

Uploaded by jango.com.

The song became a hit for Glenn Miller (Great American Things, August 27, 2009) in 1942 and Nat King Cole (Great American Things, November 2, 2009) did a great version in the fifties. It had become recognized as a standard, but then — oh, then Etta James included it on her debut album. And we had the definitive version.

Strangely, it never really made much of an impact on the Billboard Top 100, only making it to number 47. It did reach number 2 on the R&B chart, however. Though it’s been covered by dozens of artists ranging from Stevie Wonder to Cyndi Lauper, “At Last” will always be associated with Etta James. It’s her version that was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999…

Song: “Unforgettable”

Natalie sang with her father on one of his biggest hits, and made it even more memorable. Uploaded to Flickr by Don3rdSE.

This is one of the greatest songs from the Great American Songbook. Nelson Riddle arranged it, and Nat King Cole (Great American Things, November 2, 2009) sang it. That’s a potent combination no matter what the material. It’s even more potent considering the song’s source.

Uploaded by popsdiscos.com.br.

Sometimes people have one accomplishment in life that nothing else they do can even approach. “Unforgettable” is so far beyond anything else songwriter Irving Gordon wrote that it’s stunning. While he had a few songs make the charts, his next biggest songs are “Mr. and Mississippi” and “Allentown Jail.”

Nat’s daughter, Natalie, helped expose a whole new generation to this classic tune. While Nat originally recorded it in 1951, he sang a non-orchestrated version in 1962, this time in stereo. Natalie sang along with this version of her daddy’s hit, creating the Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance in the 1992 Grammy Awards.

Here’s Nat and Natalie, singing – and being – Unforgettable:

Song: “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”

I've never known anyone who's roasted chestnuts on an open fire like this. But Jack Frost has nipped at my nose. Uploaded by milenabregaglia.wordpress.com.

The most-performed Christmas song isn’t “White Christmas” or “Silent Night”, but “The Christmas Song”, written by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells in 1944.

According to Tormé, the song was written during the heat of summer. “I saw a spiral pad on his piano with four lines written in pencil,” Tormé recalled. “They started, ‘Chestnuts roasting … Jack Frost nipping … Yuletide carols … Folks dressed up like Eskimos.’ Bob didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written.”

Songwriter Mel Torme. Uploaded by weblo.com.

When you hear it playing in your head, you hear Nat King Cole (Great American Things, November 2, 2009) singing the definitive version. Cole first recorded it in 1946 with his trio, recorded it again with Nelson Riddle in 1953, then recorded it a third time (in stereo) in 1961. It’s this last version that you hear in your head, in your car, in the mall, at the grocery store…

Maybe you know someone who’s roasted chestnuts on an open fire. I sure don’t. In fact, I think I’ve only had a chestnut once in my life, and it was pretty gross. But this picture of hearth and home, of kids waiting for Santa, evokes a nostalgia for what Christmas may once have been – and what we all want it to be again. All of us, from one to 92.