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Chapter Twenty Seven of Keeping Score in America: Mel Tormé

By Michael Moriarty
web posted December 23, 2013

It's Christmas!

Mel Torme
A Divinely Human Angel

This creator of the Christmas Song gave!

He gave and gave till it hurt! You'd never know it, though! The smile! The warmth!! The glow that came when he sang!!!

The applause and then the awed hush and prayerful silence that came over his audiences when he sang Stardust!!

Artists with the divinely tasteful genius of Frank Wess on saxophone accompanying him with breathtaking subtlety. Plus Mel's equally gifted pianist whose name I find, at this moment in time, infuriatingly impossible to discover.

Then Mel's pause off-stage to ponder what had just happened onstage and he simply, humbly concludes, "Good."

No! It was great, Mel! Beyond even what you might be aware of!!

Few singers, entertainers, actors, performers and theater people in general ever reach or experience that level of both solo and ensemble perfection as on that particular night. Rarely are we ravished by that specific rendition of Stardust with those immensely gifted artists accompanying Mel Tormé on that very special evening.

Only Mel could both conceive of and attract the ingredients for such a moment of both theater and, at the same time, the highest and most sensitive level of performing possible from everyone involved.

Grave of Mel Torme
On the gravestone, the words of Joseph Addison:
"Music, the greatest good that mortals know
And all the heaven we have below."

Yes, Mel brought heaven to earth when he sang.

He also brought a moment of profound and permanent importance into my life when he analyzed one of my own creations, the CD of Reaching Out.

Between Mel Tormé's approval of both my acting and my personal songbook and then Leonard Bernstein's response to my Symphony For String Orchestra, telling my agent, Robby Lantz, that he found it "impressive, albeit academic".

As what I call a "renaissance artist", I have been most privileged to engage the world as both an actor, a musician and a composer.

All I wish for now are the hopefully eleven more years of life… at least eleven more years left to this 72-year-old grumpy grampy… with which I can compose a substantive body of work for symphonic, choral and chamber ensembles.

Then what I, as a 22 year-old, conceived of as possible in Florence, Italy, amidst its ocean of creation surrounding me there, a "renaissance life" would be mine!

Because of this eighth decade of my life, the entire experience, all 72 years of it, appears to be utterly perfect!

Yes, even the heartbreaks, disappointments and beatings I've taken, this mildly broken but resilient Irishman has been freed to let God decide!

"Thy will, not mine."

Whatever happens, I am now certain that my entire life will have been perfect.

Oh, lest I forget and lest you forget Mel Tormé's own very Renaissance abilities as a singer, musician and composer, lest you overlook his most famous contribution to the American Songbook, here is Mel's very own Christmas Song.

And, by the way, have yourself the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years possible!! ESR

Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at rainbowfamily2008@yahoo.com. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.





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