“It was so damn hot today I thought I’d write something to cool myself off…”

So, as I skulk about in the sweltering temperatures this bizarre heat spell is relentlessly inflicting on us, it strikes me as ironic to think that all over the world, songwriters are busy composing and nurturing this year’s crop of Christmas songs.

We recorded our Festive album during the hottest weeks of July 2013, I remember thinking there was something so comforting singing about snow and frost, wearing shorts and t-shirt in a baking hot studio.   The photo shoot for the album took place during the recording and involved us all sitting down to a full roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings in 30 degree heat – nice.

Many of our seasonal favourites were written during the hottest months, Leroy Anderson started work on Sleighride in a cottage in Connecticut in the Summer of 1946 whilst just 100 miles south in New York, The Nat King Cole Trio would record 2 versions of The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…) in June and August that same year.  One of my favourite singers, Mel Tormé co-wrote the song with lyricist Bob Wells, Mel recalled walking into Bob’s house and seeing the first 4 lines of the song on a writing pad resting on the piano, Bob is quoted as saying, “It was so damn hot today I thought I’d write something to cool myself off. All I could think of was Christmas and cold weather.”

In his autobiography “It Wasn’t All Velvet” Mel goes on to say that whilst he was thrilled that Nat King Cole was making his song a terrific success, he couldn’t help notice that he  had sung the last line of the bridge, “To see if reindeers really know how to fly.“ Grammatically speaking it should have been “To see if reindeer really know how to fly.“  Ever the perfectionist Nat King Cole, corrected this mistake on the 3rd and 4th versions he recorded in 1953 with Nelson Riddle and 1961 with Ralph Carmichael.  The earlier recordings from 1946 have now become valuable collectors’ items, which goes to show doing something wrong is sometimes worth more to some people than doing something right!

Curiously when Judy Garland sang The Christmas song with Mel at the piano on her TV show in December 1963, her take on the same line was “To see if rainbows really know how to fly.”  Factually and grammatically correct in Oz perhaps?