Whenever I hear the song, “Ramblin’ Rose,” a Noel and Joe Sherman composition made famous by Nat “King” Cole, I think of my mum singing along, and have an image of her dancing around the living room to it. She loved music throughout her life and savoured opportunities to hear it.
I have a vague memory of her dancing with my dad to the song when it played at the wedding social of a cousin, many, many years ago. (Click here for a link to a post where I describe the phenomenon of the Manitoba social evening.)
Today I read up on Cole, to learn more about a man I know of only as a Black entertainer. Sadly, it was not surprising to me to read that he was a target of racism. In 1948 when he bought a house in an all-white neighbourhood in Los Angeles, the Ku Klux Klan placed a burning cross on the lawn. Cole was refused service by the same hotel restaurants and bars that hired him to play. He often played to white-only audiences and received criticism for this. He later became a lifetime member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the United States and was a visible and vocal proponent for equal rights.
I’m grateful for artists like Cole and others who courageously rise above roadblocks and societal impediments to them sharing their work and passion with the world. This made me recall that my mum was a staunch supporter of human rights, stating her case eloquently in letters to high-profile figures to, as people say now, “speak truth to power.” She even received some replies!
While writing this post, I’ve heard several songs by Nat “King” Cole through YouTube’s autoplay function; some of them known to me, and some I’ve listened to for the first time. Today’s song has a country flavour to it and was on the country-western themed album of the same name. The piece is lovely to listen to, and always evokes memories for me.
Through the magic of technology, Cole, who died in 1965, and his now late daughter Natalie, were united in a 1991 duet of “Unforgettable,” a piece he recorded in 1961 and another I remember from childhood.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the audio for the song from the Nat “King” Cole YouTube channel:
And his performance of the song on a 1963 BBC TV special, An Evening with Nat “King” Cole:
Here’s the full TV special: