On the Turntable — Wild is Love by Nat King Cole

August 11th, 2020



Nat King Cole’s 1960 album, Wild is Love (Capitol Records)




…..One of the many rewards of reading Will Friedwald’s comprehensive and lively biography of Nat King Cole, Straighten Up and Fly Right, has been rediscovering gems within the great singer’s expansive catalog.

…..Thanks to Friedwald – who I will be interviewing in a few days – I am reminded of Cole’s 1960 album, Wild is Love, an ambitious, electrifying (and “hit”) recording that could best be described as a concept album about falling in love.

…..In addition to an entire album of phenomenal vocal performances, as the between-song narrator Cole serves as the wise and experienced expert on love, shepherding the (male) listener through all the stages of love – the desire of finding a life partner, the emptiness of carousing, the despair following the one that got away, the pause of the hunt, and, ultimately (spoiler alert), meeting the love of your life.

…..Written by the unknown Ray Rasch (music) and Dotty Wayne (lyrics) and released at the advent of the “sexual revolution,” this album serves as a great example of how Cole and his arrangers – in this case Nelson Riddle, who worked with Cole for the last time on this project – could elevate otherwise unremarkable material into something, well, remarkable.  While the title track is the album’s highlight (and as fine a two-minute finger-snapper you’re likely to hear), the entire recording is instantly gratifying, stacked with the swagger coming from Riddle’s forty-piece orchestra and its perfection of sound, and capped by Cole’s legendary warmth, humor and brilliance.

…..Friedwald writes that “Wild is Love stands as one of the signature achievements of Cole’s career and, in particular, the culmination of roughly two decades of work in the visual mediums, film and television.” In addition to the music, at the time of its release the album was considered somewhat of a landmark in the marketing of recorded music.  Friedwald writes that Cole’s label, Capitol Records, “agreed to package the finished LP with a deluxe twelve-page full-color photo booklet.  The models were fully clothed, but other than that the whole section looked like it could have been a ‘pictorial’ from Playboy magazine.  When all was said and done, the total cost of the recording, the packaging, and the promotion, came to a total of $100,000, an unheard-of budget for a pop album (or any recording) at that point.”  The package was something “that a guy could present to his sweetheart on anniversaries or other romantic occasions” and sold for the princely sum of $8.98 (on stereo).

…..Cole also felt Wild is Love was the right project to fulfill his ambition to bring music to Broadway.  While that didn’t pan out (and his subsequent attempt with a musical titled I’m With You petered out shortly after its San Francisco opening), he was able to turn Wild is Love into a splashy television special that aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Company in November, 1961.  It is a little corny now, but for viewers who can take themselves back to that year, it’s clear to see that this project was way ahead of its time.  (You can check it out for yourself by clicking here).

…..Highlights from the album abound.  Don’t needle skip…play it through.  It heightens the appeal and intensifies the fun!





Here a few highlights from the album…


The title track, “Wild is Love”


“Tell Her in the Morning”




“Stay With It”


Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition...One-third of the Winter, 2024 collection of jazz poetry is made up of poets who have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection. What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets are finding a place for their voice within the pages of this website. (Featuring the art of Marsha Hammel)

The Sunday Poem

photo by Mel Levine/pinelife, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“Lady Day and Prez” by Henry Wolstat

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem


Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood...A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

Publisher’s Notes

photo by Rhonda Dorsett
A very brief three-dot update…Where I’ve been, and an update on what is coming up on Jerry Jazz Musician


Photographer uncredited, but the photo was almost certainly taken by Chuck Stewart. Published by ABC/Impulse! Records.. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“And I’m Not Even Here” – a poem by Connie Johnson

Click here to read more poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician


"Lester Leaps In" by Tad Richards
"Jazz and American Poetry," an essay by Tad Richards...In an essay that first appeared in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poetry in 2005, Tad Richards - a prolific visual artist, poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer who has been active for over four decades – writes about the history of the connection of jazz and American poetry.


photo of Pepper Adams/courtesy of Pepper Adams Estate
Interview with Gary Carner, author of Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer...The author speaks with Bob Hecht about his book and his decades-long dedication to the genius of Pepper Adams, the stellar baritone saxophonist whose hard-swinging bebop style inspired many of the top-tier modern baritone players.

Click here to read more interviews published on Jerry Jazz Musician


Three poets and Sketches of Spain


IISG, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Interview with Judith Tick, author of Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song...The author discusses her book, a rich, emotionally stirring, exceptional work that explores every element of Ella’s legacy in great depth, reminding readers that she was not only a great singing artist, but also a musical visionary and social activist.

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole is an occasional series of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film. This edition is influenced by Stillpoint, the 2021 album by Zen practitioner Barrett Martin


Jason Innocent, on “3”, Abdullah Ibrahim’s latest album... Album reviews are rarely published on Jerry Jazz Musician, but Jason Innocent’s experience with the pianist Abdullah Ibrahim’s new recording captures the essence of this artist’s creative brilliance.

Short Fiction

Christerajet, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #64 — “The Old Casino” by J.B. Marlow...The author's award-winning story takes place over the course of a young man's life, looking at all the women he's loved and how the presence of a derelict building informs those relationships.

Click here to read more short fiction published on Jerry Jazz Musician

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Jazz with a Beat: Small Group Swing 1940 – 1960, by Tad Richards

Click here to read more book excerpts published on Jerry Jazz Musician


"Jazz Trio" by Samuel Dixon
A collection of jazz haiku, Vol. 2...The 19 poets included in this collection effectively share their reverence for jazz music and its culture with passion and brevity.

Jazz History Quiz #170

photo of Dexter Gordon by Brian McMillen
This bassist played with (among others) Charlie Parker, Erroll Garner, Nat King Cole and Dexter Gordon (pictured), was one of the earliest modern jazz tuba soloists, and was the only player to turn down offers to join both Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. Who is he?


photo via Picryl.com
.“Community Bookshelf, #2"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

Contributing Writers

Click the image to view the writers, poets and artists whose work has been published on Jerry Jazz Musician, and find links to their work

Coming Soon

An interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 - 1960;  an interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow? An Oral History of the 60's Girl Groups;  a new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works...

Interview Archive

Eubie Blake
Click to view the complete 22 year archive of Jerry Jazz Musician interviews, including those recently published with Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom on Eubie Blake (pictured); Richard Brent Turner on jazz and Islam; Alyn Shipton on the art of jazz; Shawn Levy on the original queens of standup comedy; Travis Atria on the expatriate trumpeter Arthur Briggs; Kitt Shapiro on her life with her mother, Eartha Kitt; Will Friedwald on Nat King Cole; Wayne Enstice on the drummer Dottie Dodgion; the drummer Joe La Barbera on Bill Evans; Philip Clark on Dave Brubeck; Nicholas Buccola on James Baldwin and William F. Buckley; Ricky Riccardi on Louis Armstrong; Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands on Erroll Garner; Maria Golia on Ornette Coleman.

Site Archive