"Thus open the gates of paradise."

In this issue

Mel Tormé

06 Apr 2002

Mel Tormé

Oh heck. I'd been waiting, hoping that Mel would make it back to Toronto one last time. He was slated to come a couple of years ago, but then cancelled because of a stroke. Poop.

I can't tell you much about Mel other than he wrote "The Christmas Song" and that he kept his voice as long as I heard it, unlike other singers whose voice in old age was just a shadow of that in their youth. (I'm hesitant to actually mention the recently-deceased crooner I have in mind, if not to avoid speaking ill of the dead, then to avoid having my legs broken by loyal friends. Or friends of friends. Is that clear enough?) Mel was always smooth as could be.

I'm listening to a 1992 CD entitled "Mel Tormé Christmas Songs" which is the only recording of his that I have. Closing my eyes, I let the music in and there's nothing much wrong in the world. Could I really be riding a New York City cab home on a cold winter night? (If you've ridden an NYC cab, you recognize that this is fantasy.) He does a version of "Christmastime is Here" (from A Charlie Brown Christmas) which beautifully captures the wistfulness and warmth of the season. Easily worth the price of admission.

Did you ever see him on the television show "Night Court" in the late 80's? Harry had a picture of Mel on his desk, I think. And then one season, there he was. I don't remember if he was playing himself, or just someone who happened to look like Mel Tormé. No matter. It made me smile.

Mel died on 5 June 99 at 73 years of age.