Counting down my twenty-five favorite holiday songs. (Find previous posts here.)
17. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting by an Open Fire) (Mel Torme)
"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 (Wells, co-writer) 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. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics."
Mel was nicknamed the Velvet Fog because of his beautiful voice and silken delivery. I prefer his recordings of this song to Nat King Cole’s, although the latters are probably better known today. Here’s Mel singing with Judy Garland, whose TV show he worked on for a few seasons and was infamously fired from.