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Nat King Cole: "Unforgettable" in Every Way
Just remember as you trod through life, we can read every word about anyone and it turns out to be slick lies, but in (this) case concerning Nat King Cole, every word you read here is true. (Kenneth).
Could it be just barely possible that God himself decided to choose one of His very best singing angels then place this special angel with a special talent in the mortal body of Nathaniel Adams Cole, known professionally as Nat King Cole? At the risk of being accused of raging racism, and being thought of as complete idiot, is very possible. So without argument, God is incapable of making mistakes, so the birth, life, and talents of Cole are still living evidence of that solid truth.
Cole quickly rose to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. He was widely-noted for his soft baritone voice, playing in (the now-storied) big band and jazz genres, and was a major force in popular music for three decades. Count 'em. Three decades. Cole's priceless recordings remained popular worldwide after his death from lung cancer in February 1965--and that sad paradox about Cole loving to smoke non-filtered Camel cigarettes to help him maintain that low, soft baritone voice to me, is the saddest price anyone of Cole's birth and talent could pay.
And really, why drag-up those endless arguments of "what if" Nat King Cole had not took to smoking and "what if" he would have had that same lovely baritone voice? I choose to leave this part of the story be. Each time that I read anything concerning Nat King Cole's life, successes, and death, I am saddened all over again.
This piece being factual and believed (for it is true to the bone), imagine for a moment, a delightful moment, that you are sitting with a date in one of those fine nightclubs found in Nat King Cole's time probably in Chicago, Detroit, and New York City. And really, it wouldn't matter which club you were in for if the club was the club where singing sensation, Nat King Cole was appearing, the club would be "the" club for notoriety and a thrilling memory.
The club is packed. Cigarette smoke is clouded in the air. Waitresses are running like hungry wolves to serve the patrons' favorite meats and bonded poisons. Meanwhile a 40-piece, all-star orchestra is warming up--waiting for some emcee with a deep voice that would rival that of Hoppy Jones of The Ink Spots, and introduce the reason why this club is packed to capacity--and lots more thanks to a few hands that were greased by powerful crime figures' and politicians' "scratch." In Cole's days, as they are now, were hard to discern the difference.
A silence drapes the audience with heaving breath. All eyes are upon the star of the show who is not walking, but gliding across the sparkling marble dance floor. And as if no emcee were needed, just the sight of him would be more than sufficient for the packed audience to break out with bursts of applause followed by a standing ovation.
This moment and all those ahead, belonged to the one and certainly the only Nat King Cole. He humbly smiles as he looks over the huge crowd. The applause seems almost endless. Now the waitresses and dance girls are in awe of Cole who just has to walk from a stage left (or right) and open his mouth with "Unforgettable," which was arguably his trademark song.
But those who have not heard of this pioneer "singing idol," I can feel only remorse for you. Only the natives in some desolate jungle area near the Amazon would not have to be told about the talents of Nat King Cole. He was that talented and more. Besides his silken baritone voice, his quiet charisma was complemented his stardom no matter where he played. Cole was that popular. And . . .if Cole traveling on some tour ship ran through some uncharted waters and Cole walked off of the boat onto this unknown land, these unlearned natives after hearing his voice would certainly fall to their shaky knees as if Cole were (a) god.
Cole was surely a sleek gunboat running wide-open and running on (not in) the water. No one bothered to just dream up a talent such as Nat King Cole. No, sir. He was built from integrity, sweat, and paying a terrible price waiting to be paid down his long and successful career. Cole's main fuel was his love for singing. And this writer would be hard pressed to convince me otherwise. Nat King Cole. A name that says a lot without speaking a feeble syllable. Just by hitting that one note, we all knew who was signing and what song was playing on our radio. Cole was that talented. I kid you not. One of the few quintessential male singers in this special time period.
Compared to today's easy titled rocker bands named, "flash-in-the-pans" and "lightning in bottles," only a few have managed to maintain their names. True. But their fame somehow and yet so mysteriously and sure as a brand new butcher's knife cut away their fame. But not Cole. Like I stated earlier, when one said Cole, the person hearing the name instantly thought of class. All class and that was no gimmick, but pure, raw, and innocent talent for all the world to see, hear, and enjoy. And maybe for me it was a clever illusion of Nat King Cole only delivering such soulful music and giving to so many without taking one thing in return. Of course I am just thinking outloud.
I would go as far as to say that for Cole to receive huge monetary payments to do his heavy concert schedule would only be a formality and the fulfilling to a contract that someone who had the good sense to sign Cole for his record label to further entertain millions while knowing all the while where the wise promoter's cash cache stayed safely behind legal guidelines.
But Cole was never the troublemaker or instigator of being accused or labelled a rebellious spirit. Just the best doggoned singer black, white, or green who ever graced a stage somewhere in Detroit or some other clubs who were made the more famous and prosperous just by Nat King Cole's presence.
This may be a mouthful, but I feel that I can stand a test of accuracy of the above statement.
No matter what song he sang, we can all identify with whatever song Nat King Cole chose to sing. Take "Ramblin' Rose," and see if you aren't lured, (with your will to resist now gone), into Cole's eras and his easy listening songs that were also so realistic by his design. For Nat, there were no behind-the-scenes, out-of-pocket monies paid to promote such a talent as Cole had. No, sir. I will go to my grave believing that Nat King Cole was the best. And I include in that adjective, his talent for playing piano, writing lyrics and even producing as one of his many talents.
For Cole's recording engineers and producers, working for him must have been existing with Cole for a few golden weeks in Heaven. And why not? After all, it was God who decided to send Nat King Cole to earth as so we could all be blessed by his many pure talents.
And knowing what I know about both God and Cole, the two are very much alike.
© 2017 Kenneth Avery