NiteLife Person of the Week: a favorite singer… by Rob Lester

a-singerWHO IS IT?  Born one September day long ago, he was one of the finest singers of standards, with a long career that included much nightclub work, now gone like so many of the greats.  He released many recordings and below are titles of 73 of the (mostly standard) songs (because he lived for 73 years).    mel-p       Painting:    Marilyn   Moore  

mel-mIn the 1950s, in a recording of a legendary score of the 1930s, he sang the role of the male lead.  He began singing as a kid and had his own singing group early on and did some of his own arrangements.  Two of his offspring now perform in clubs and have saluted him in song.  steve-march-tormejames-2   Although never in a Broadway show, he sang many Broadway songs and he died on the day of the Tony Awards one year quite late in the last century.

One of the titles named below is the signature song of one of two female vocalists he did duo albums with.  He sang one of the numbers below in a movie bio of its songwriters; a songwriter himself, he wrote the music for one of the others listed.  Do you know his name?


Related imageSONGS OF LOVE:  Love~~~ Hello Young Lovers~~~ The Lady’s in Love with You~~~ I’ve Never Been in Love Before~~~  People Will Say We’re in Love~~~ I Can’t Give You Anything But Love~~~ What Is This Thing Called Love?~~~ Hooray for Love~~~ Love Is Just Around the Corner~~~ Love Walked In ~~~ My Romance~~~  Just Friends ~~~ P.S. I Love You~~~ You’d Better Love Me

Related imageSONGS OF THE SEASONS & WEATHER:  Early Autumn~~~ Autumn Leaves~~~ Autumn in New York~~~ The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)~~~ Winter Wonderland~~~ Too Darn Hot~~~ A Foggy Day (in London Town)~~~ It Might as Well Be Spring~~~ September Song~~~ Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head

Related imageSONGS ABOUT MUSIC:  I’ve Heard That Song Before~~~ I Like to Recognize the Tune~~~ It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)~~~ Lullaby of Birdland~~~ Fascinating Rhythm~~~ I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart~~~

Related imageSONGS ABOUT PERSONAL CONDITIONS:  I’ve Got You Under My Skin~~~ I’m Beginning to See the Light~~~I Got It Bad and that Ain’t Good~~~ I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’~~~ Moanin’~~~ Don’t Get Around Much Anymore~~~ Alone Together

Related imageSONGS ABOUT PLACES:  New York, New York~~~ It Happened in Monterey ~~~ On Green Dolphin Street~~~ Moonlight in Vermont~~~ Stars Fell on Alabama~~~ Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea~~~ White Cliffs of Dover~~~ Out of This World~~

Related imageCOLORFUL MUSIC:  Blue Moon~~~ That Old Black Magic~~~ Mountain Greenery~~~ Sweet Georgia Brown~~~

Related imageSONGS OFFERING ADVICE:  Try a Little Tenderness~~~ Pick Yourself Up~~~(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66~~~Let’s Face the  Music and Dance~~~Sing, You Sinners~~~ Hit the Road to Dreamland~~~ Send in the Clowns~~~ Get Me to the Church on Time~~~ Whisper Not~~~ Take the ‘A” Train~~~Hang on to Me~~~ Let’s Start the New Year Right~~~ Stay as Sweet as You Are~~~ Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

Related imageAS WELL AS:  Night and Day~~~ Where or When~~~ Manhattan~~~Too Close for Comfort~~~ All of You~~~  Polka Dots and Moonbeams~~~ Cement Mixer (Put-ti, Put-ti) ~~~ The Hut-Hut Song (A Swedish Rhapsody)~~~ Hold Tight (Want Some Sea Food, Mama) AND That’s All (and that’s not all!)

The photos you see are him as a younger man and the last photos are of his singer sons Steve and James…..Have you thought of his name?  Writing his autobiography and the life story of a friend and fellow musician (one of the most iconic drummers of all) was just part of his RICH life.  (He also wrote a tell-all book about his work on the staff of a troubled TV series starring one of the world’s most beloved and truly legendary female singer-actresses).   He wrote the MELody for one of the most recorded songs of all time as well as music and lyrics for others.  Going on a concert TOUR MAY have been too much for some, but this singer traveled the world singing.

****And the answer is…..Spoiler alert if you are still thinking or haven’t noticed the inappropriate CAPITAL LETTERS in the paragraph above, meant as hints rather than typos….It’s Mel Tormé.  A true Renaissance Man of music, his most songwriting credit was to set a MELody poem his collaborator, Bob Wells, whipped up on a very hot day to think cooler thoughts and the result was the perennial ode to those roasting chestnuts and Jack Frost nipping at your nose at Christmastime in colder climes.  He appeared in some movies, including the film bio of Rodgers & Hart, whose work he often came back to in his recordings over the years.  His own autobiography makes for interesting reading, and his other books include the referred-to tale of the 1963-64 Judy Garland TV series and his bio on pal Buddy Rich.  He made many recordings, from the  early work with his vocal group The Mel-Tones, singing the role of Porgy opposite Frances Faye as his Bess helmed by Russ Garcia, his own “California Suite,” the classics with arranger Marty Paich, and the later collaborations with pianist George Shearing.  There were many live recordings, some at clubs that later died, but there was nothing like seeing Mr. Tormé sing in person, which some of us were lucky enough to experience.  Had he lived, he’d be 90 years old, about to turn 91.  Who knows? He might have battled Tony Bennett (now also 90 and is, happily, still with us) for Lady Gaga and Tony’s other duet partners.  In his time, he did duo albums with Margaret Whiting and Cleo Laine.  We’ll always have the legacy of those recordings, whatever format this vocalist, whose earliest efforts were on 78 rpm shellac discs, take on in streaming, downloads, and clouds.  As we approach his September 13 birth date, here’s a timely toast to Tormé!     mel-2autobiography