“The Christmas Song”
By Mel Torme and Bob Wells
Everybody knows… this song. (Sorry.) It is a Christmas classic, one of those seminal songs that is always played. Countless artists have recorded it, putting various spins on it from sentimental to meloncholy, from a capella to punk to rock to… probably grunge and polka somewhere.
I’ve heard this song all my life, and I couldn’t begin to count the different ways I’ve heard it. But you can’t go wrong with the original, though, by Mel Torme and Bob Wells. As the composer of the song, it seems fitting that we use this version as sung by him.
I remember back in college, my band director telling us the story of how Mel and Bob wrote it on the hottest day of the year in July. What better way to beat the heat than to think of Christmas and the cold of winter? Apparently, it worked, as this has become one of the most popular holiday songs.
“The Velvet Fog”, as Mel was known, lends a feeling of warmth and comfort to the song as his smoky voice tells the tale of chestnuts and fires, of Jack Frost and Santa, of child wonderment and fancy. It’s a perfect song to summon images of all that make the holiday bright. Even the final line verse takes note of the fact that even though we can get caught up in the holiday and lose track of it, although it’s been said many times — Merry Christmas.
Mark Evanier has written a wonderful tale about his experience with Mel and the song, and I encourage you to read it here. And while a recording can’t let you fully feel what Mark must have felt hearing it live, and no amount of reading will compare to my band director telling us his love for the song every time we played a Christmas concert, it’s still nice to know that certain songs can transcend into something eternal and ethereal.
Tomorrow – Don’t let the dog take the blanket.