Today we look into the birth story of the Christmas classic that is simply called “The Christmas Song”.
The Creators of The Christmas Song: Mel Tormé and Bob Wells
Melvin “Mel” Howard Tormé (September 13, 1925 – June 5, 1999), nicknamed The Velvet Fog, was an American musician, best known as a singer of jazz standards. He was also a jazz composer and arranger, drummer, and actor in radio, film, and television, and the author of five books. He composed the music for the classic holiday song “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”) and co-wrote the lyrics with Bob Wells. –Read more on wiki
Robert “Bob” Wells (October 15, 1922 – September 28, 1998) was an American songwriter, composer, script writer and television producer. During his early career, he collaborated with singer and songwriter Mel Tormé, writing several hit songs, most notably “The Christmas Song” in 1945. – Read more on wiki
Mel Tormé and Bob Wells were songwriting partners, and used to take turns going over to each other’s homes to write songs.
One particularly hot July day, Mel drove over to Bob’s house in Teluca Lake, California, and when he got there he walked into the house, couldn’t find Bob, but found a spiral note pad of paper with some words on it – “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide Carols being sung by a choir, folks dressed up like Eskimos.”
When Mel found Bob, he asked him “What’s this?”, and Bob said “it’s so blistering hot here,and thought it would be fun to see if I could write something about a totally different season, the winter season, Christmas season, and see if I could mentally, virtually cool off.”
Mel said “not only have you also cooled me off, but I think you’ve got a song here!” And the duo wrote the rest of the song in about 35 minutes.
The Nat King Cole Trio’s first recording of The Christmas Song in 1946
The Christmas song was first recorded by The Nat King Cole Trio early in 1946.
At Cole’s behest – and over the objections of his label, Capitol Records – a second recording was made later the same year utilizing a small string section, this version becoming a massive hit on both the pop and R&B charts.
Cole again recorded the song in 1953, using the same arrangement with a full orchestra arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, and once more in 1961, in a stereophonic version with orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael. Cole’s 1961 version is generally regarded as definitive, and in 2004 was the most-loved seasonal song with women aged 30–49,
while the original 1946 recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1974.
Another version recorded by Nat King Cole
Natalie Cole duet with her dad Nat King Cole(it’s incredible how today’s technology could make it possible to record a duet with somebody long dead)
Michael Bublé version
So do… take inspiration from Mel and Bob’s collaboration. Oftentimes, getting some input from another passionate and creative soul is what it takes to get things movin’, happenin’ and roastin’ on a open fire, hahaha!