i·con (ī’kŏn’) – One who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol.
Today, I offer you the original American Idol…Frank Sinatra. If you’re a Frank fan, Sirius Satellite Radio opened the Frank Sinatra Channel on April 19th — Channel 75….All Frank, all the time.
Francis Albert Sinatra
Mainstream Pop. Back before there was such a thing, there was just good music. At the beginning was the master… Ole Blue Eyes, himself. Sinatra is the standard. Style, talent, charisma and charm. He had it all. Through a rollercoaster ride as singer, actor and raconteur, “Frankie” became entrenched in American “pop culture” as the “every man” and the guy everyone wanted to be. From his swooner crooner days in the early ’40’s to the Rat Pack of the ’60’s to “Duets” in the ’80’s, he and his music were the backdrop for most of the 20th Century.
Perhaps it was his tone, or maybe his passion that enveloped fans when he first hit the scene in 1939. Basically an endentured servant to Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra’s immense popularity among young women allowed him the leverage to finally break away from his stifling contract and become a solo artist. He quickly reached immense heights in his musical career and then suffered a devestatingly high fall from the top of the pedestal in the early ’50’s, partly due to a scandalous affair with Ava Gardner.
Through sheer tenacity, he badgered the producers of From Here to Eternity and called in every favor he had to land the roll of Private Angelo Maggio. His brilliant performance won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1953 and rescued his flailing musical career, as well. He would later be nominated for Best Actor for Man with the Golden Arm, in which he delivered an even better performance but lost out to Ernest Borgnine who had delivered an also outstanding performance in Marty.
Today’s Trivia: Ernest Borgnine played the sadistic Sgt. ‘Fatso’ Judson who persecutes, and eventually kills, Sinatra’s Maggio in From Here to Eternity.
However, where Sinatra really ruled was in the musical world. Rich vocals, coupled with the melodic fullness of the orchestras at Reprise Records, produced music that will forever be a part of the American lexicon. He certainly exhibited style and grace and a definite level of “coolness”, which also added to his unique “je ne sais qua”. He was always comfortable in his own skin, causing people to be attracted by confidence and captivated by his talent and ability to thoroughly entertain, no matter what the “venue”.
Personally, I think Sinatra’s musical attraction was his perfect phrasing and how he draws the listener in with his treatment of the words. His vocals and intonation convey the exact emotion of the song, whether it be abject sorrow, coy flirting or whimisical fun. I went through a “Blue Period” for about a year of delving into Frank Sinatra in all his glory. He made me feel exactly what the song meant, each and every time.
So, for your Saturday listening enjoyment…..I give you the one, and only, Sinatra.
Love the emphatic-ness he sings this tune with. I buy it.
Smooth and sassy with great horns for emphasis, this is one of my favorite favorites….I like the version with Julio Eglasias, as well.
The Way You Look Tonight
Perfect phrasing makes this so believable. While I love this song, it’s getting over-used these days, particularly at weddings.
Fly Me to the Moon
Again, perfect phrasing is what makes this work. Can’t you just see him up there snapping his fingers with a scotch in the other hand?
I’ve Got a Crush on You
This is a duet with Barbra Streisand that is just, well, priceless. While his voice was not as strong and clear (at 80) as it once was, the song is just perfect…I absolutely adore the ending.
The Lady is a Tramp
Very Sinatra. Again, the phrasing, people.
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
This might be my all time Sinatra favorite. Talk about hearing a man’s heart break?
Luck be a Lady Tonight
From the Vegas years….snappy, fun, carefree.
It Was a Very Good Year
This is such an excellent “reflection” song and his emotion is palpable. He recorded this way before My Way and I think he was very reflective when recording this. The violins are simply lovely.
Three Coins in the Fountain
Ok. Talk about tone and texture….this is it. BTW, Frank did not appear in this movie, but if you like Lauren Bacall it’s a good one to watch on a rainy Sunday.
I’ll finish up with one that is right up there fighting for the top spot. There are so many great songs by Mr. Sinatra….maybe I’ll do another post someday about some of his more obscure songs that are favorites.
One for My Baby
“I would like to be remembered as a man who had a wonderful time living life, a man who had good friends, fine family – and I don’t think I could ask for anything more than that, actually.”
— Frank Sinatra
ETA: Found this great video of Frank with his daughter, Nancy that really shows his personality and his pride for his daughter. Nice.
ETA2: For brc….I’ll Be Seeing You
The anthem for servicemen abroad in WW2.
NOTE: Temporary Music Files deleted.