In today's Wall Street Journal, I interview singer Natalie Cole on the house her father, Nat King Cole, bought in the white and wealthy Hancock Park section of Los Angeles in 1948 and the racial backlash her family endured in the years that followed. You'll find the interview in the Mansion section—or online for free here. Among the highlights: despite lawsuits, harassment, a cross set afire on their lawn and the poisoning of their dog, Natalie recalls a dream childhood at home and fun with white neighborhood girlfriends—all of whom were mystified by the racial fuss that homeowners were making over such a beautiful, famous family. The Extraordinary Nat King Cole (Capitol), a new double-CD, goes on sale Tuesday here [Photo above of Natalie Cole by Jack Guy]
Also today, I write at length about the making of Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love in the Arena section (go here or please buy the paper). I interviewed Jimmy Page and engineers Eddie Kramer and George Chkiantz. The 1969 song transformed music with a thunderclap—making rock a harder, more metallic form best suited for stereo systems, FM radio and indoor concert arenas. Among the revelations: from the start Jimmy Page set out to make an FM album that Atlantic couldn't cut up into singles; the pre-echo on Robert Plant's vocal wasn't a studio stunt but an accident; and John Bonham's drums were miked unusually to give giving them an icier, more metallic sound.
And Marcos Valle, whom I interviewed last week for the WSJ (here), is making a rare appearance in New York tonight and Saturday at Birdland (two shows nightly) with legendary guitarist Roberto Menescal (for more information, go here). I caught the show on Wednesday night and they had the audience about four feet off the ground. Back stage after, there was Marcos, Roberto and Eumir Deodato, who was in the audience. Enough said. Music like this simply isn't made any longer. The soft, melodic quality, the surfy rhythm and the seductive passion all come together for a trip back to Ipanema Beach in 1960. All that was missing on Wednesday night were trays of heated sand for everone's bare feet. Kudos to Delta Air Lines for sponsoring BossaBrasil and to producers Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta for bringing the gorgeous Rio sound up to New York each year. An emotional rescue, for sure. [Photo above of Roberto Menescal, left front, and Marcos Valle by O. Myers]