Nostalgia within Nostalgia: Peter Nero

Here’s the next post in my music history self-study project. I’m checking out each winner of the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, reading a bit of bio info and sharing whichever random points catch my interest, and also building a Spotify playlist of the songs I like best from that artist. I’ll share each post to my Facebook page and invite you to join the conversation there.

This week’s winner: Peter Nero, Best New Artist of 1961

  • Peter Nero. Photographer unknown.
    Peter Nero. Photographer unknown.

    I started this post knowing nothing about Peter Nero, but the first song title that rang a faint bell was “Theme from ‘Summer of ’42.'” It’s a delicate piano instrumental that you’ll probably recognize too. Now I want to see the film.

  • It’s quite the time-hop to realize that Nero’s career took off over 50 years ago, on the strength of his focus on genres and stories decades older than that. From there he recorded around 70 albums, so you could easily fill an entire mellow Sunday with Peter Nero instrumentals.
  • Like our first winner, Bobby Darin, Nero also has a version of “Mack the Knife.” As Spotify played on while I wrote this, I discovered that Nero recorded dozens of songs I know, like “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” which sent me researching which version was the original and in the process finding other great covers. Making connections like this was just what I hoped I’d get out of this project.

Check out my Spotify playlist “Deb Stanley’s ‘Best New Artists’ Study” to see which Peter Nero recordings I added.