Part of me always hoped that, sometime before Andy Williams died, I’d get to see him in person. If the opportunity presented itself, I’d even go to Branson to do it. A much larger part of me knew it would never happen. And it didn’t.
Andy Williams’ was the music of my early adolescence or maybe late childhood. Even when John F. Kennedy was getting shot in Dallas and my nightmares were filled with mushroom clouds and fallout shelters, Andy Williams was the soothing presence at the center of the universe. Never hip but rarely corny, Williams was as calming as a cup of warm milk, but with just enough cocoa in it to keep it from being boring. He made me feel peaceful and a little happy. When his TV show went off the air I missed it, but I’d probably also stopped watching it by then.
You all know “Moon River,” the song that he made famous even though Audrey Hepburn sang it first. There was something haunting not only in Mancini & Mercer’s composition but in the heartfelt way that Williams sang it. I’m still not sure what that song was about, but its imagery was so deep and striking and the way Williams sang it so sincere that it never became elevator music. Neither did “Canadian Sunset,” which really should have been elevator music, yet still makes me feel warm when I hear it. Something in William’s voice (the multitracking doesn’t hurt) convinced me years ago that perfect love really did exist. And, not surprisingly, it would involve snow.
I’ve raved elsewhere about his Christmas music, so I won’t do that again, except to say that out of Sinatra, Crosby and Como, who made Christmas music superb, Williams somehow was the only one who could make it perfect.
Andy Williams died Tuesday at 84.