DJ Brian Anderson marvels at the eclectic musical tastes of Millennials and Gen Xers. At weddings, we get requests for first dance songs recorded last year to songs recorded last century. There is little doubt as to whom the King of the wedding song is:
Nat “King” Cole
Whether you know his name, you know his voice, even though he was born a century ago. His version of “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire)” is legendary. Take a listen:
Unforgettable wedding songs
Perhaps his most beloved first dance song is the timeless “Unforgettable,” written by Irving Gordon and recorded in 1951. The lyrics define romance:
That’s what you are
Tho’ near or far
Like a song of love that clings to me
How the thought of you does things to me
Has someone been more…
In every way
And forever more
That’s how you’ll stay.
Four decades later, long after his death, the song gained a new audience when a record producer came up with a clever idea. Cole’s daughter, Natalie, had grown up and become a rising singing star, occasionally covering “Unforgettable” at concerts in homage to her dad. A producer took her version and mixed it with Nat’s to create a duet for the ages:
“Unforgettable” is but one of Cole’s romantic gems. Another is “Stardust.” Listen to how music critic, Terry Teachout, describes Nat King Cole’s treatment of this song, which was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parish:
“Perhaps the most beautiful of all his ballad recordings is the version of “Stardust” that he taped in 1956 and sang on his TV show a year later. It opens with an out-of-tempo reading of the verse that Cole sings with tiptoe delicacy, after which he slips almost imperceptibly into a very slow tempo for the chorus. Each phrase is laid out like diamonds on black velvet, each note is sung with dead-center intonation and each syllable comes through with deep-etched clarity. No one, not even Sinatra, has ever sung “Stardust,” or any other song, better than that.”
Take a listen:
One of the all-time great jazz pianists
Although Nat King Cole’s baritone voice was made to sing ballads, his music could swing, too. In fact, many younger fans of Nat Cole know him for his pure voice and don’t realize he was one of the greatest jazz piano players of all time. In fact, he began to sing reluctantly, only to add variety to his jazz trio, which consisted of a double bass, electric guitar, and himself on keyboard. Grounded in jazz, he could cut loose with the best of them, including Frank Sinatra. Cole liked to joke, “Do you want to know the difference between Frank and me? The band swings Frank. I swing the band.”
Here’s one of Nat King Cole’s big hits, “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” You’ll hear him cut loose on the piano at the 2:41 mark. It’s worth a listen:
Nat King Cole recorded far too many songs worthy of your first dance to discuss in a single blogpost. Let us leave you with one more, “L-O-V-E,” released just a half a year before Cole died in 1965 at the age of forty-five. The music was written by Bert Kaempfert with a great set of lyrics by Milt Gabler. If you and your betrothed would like to show off your dance moves, this is a great song for you. Watch the couple below showcase the dance potential of “L-O-V-E.”
You’ve got to admit, Nat King Cole is the king of the wedding song.
DJ Brian Anderson can play the Nat King Cole song of your choice on the best equipment around, featuring clear, controlled sound. And we can play any of your favorite contemporary songs, the music that defines who you two are as a couple.
To make your first dance even better, we offer lighting design using our creative decor lighting to create the perfect effect for your big moment. If Nat King Cole were here, we’re sure he’d approve!