Sunday, December 06, 2015

Somebody should say this about Sinatra

As readers of this blog know, I am a huge Sinatra fan. Well… the Sinatra from the Capitol Records period in the ‘50s.  Any record he made while wearing a hat.   No matter how many people he roughed up, his singing during that period was extraordinary. 200 years from now people will still be listening to Sinatra (and hopefully watching MASH reruns).

This would have been his 100th birthday, which is a good excuse to stage tributes to him. CBS has one tonight – a biggie featuring a lot of rock stars. This to me is quite ironic since Sinatra loathed rock n’ roll. He didn’t understand it, he lashed out at it, made fun of it, and worse – tried to do it himself. ( Maybe if Ava Gardner had sung with Jefferson Airplane he would have gotten it. We’ll never know.)

Appropriately, there are no comedians honoring him on this show for a very good reason – Frank Sinatra was painfully unfunny. Sorry. There it is. Were he alive I’m sure some no neck thugs would be visiting me, but let’s get real. Listen to any Rat Pack concert recording. The jokes are all cringeworthy, racist, hostile, inside, and embarrassing.

Now you could say Sinatra just needed better writers, but that wouldn’t have helped. He had zero comic timing. Dino had comic timing. Sammy (poor Sammy) had comic timing. But Frank (and remember I love him) was to comedy what Sam Kinison was to the Great American Songbook.

His movie comedies were not much better. When I hosted the Neil Simon festival on TCM I screened COME BLOW YOUR HORN (Neil’s first play adapted into a film). It’s the story of two Jewish brothers in New York. Frank gave it that ring-a-ding-ding edge you rarely see in Jewish families.

And worse than not being funny– he thought he WAS funny. There’s nothing more excruciating than that. My heart goes out to the toadies and hangers-on who hung out with him and had to laugh at his horrible jokes 24/7. Especially Sammy who was the butt of those jokes. Frank’s idea of delivering a line was to break into “Amos & Andy.” Yes, it was from a different time but Jesus!

Sinatra was an absolute master at interpreting songs. He could infuse emotion into music like nobody before or since. He was more than an artist – he was a master. I remain in awe.  Again... during that period he wore hats. 

But when it comes to comedy, Nancy is funnier.

65 comments:

emily said...

CBS failed to include multi-grammy winner Michael Bublé in "Sinatra 100 — An All-Star GRAMMY Concert."

But Garth Brooks?

I pass.

canda said...

Frank was funny in "Guys and Dolls", and the humor the Rat Pack guys had was straight out of the old-school-heterosexual-hard-drinking-40s, 50s and early 60s. You wore suits, drank at cocktail lounges, performed in night clubs, and were Kings of the World.

Night Club guys were the ones that thumbed their noses at the businessmen with 9 to 5 jobs, dated women the business guys couldn't get (it didn't hurt that they were famous and had money), and lived in a world very far removed from the average American male. They weren't suffering, so humor was not something they had to develop. Like the things beautiful models say, people would laugh no matter what they said, because they wanted to be in their favor. Plus, they drank a lot, so they laughed a lot at what they said to each other.

We know humor often comes out of pain, but in Sinatra's case, it came out in his songs.





MikeK.Pa. said...

I liked Sinatra the artist, not Sinatra the man, and I'm able to differentiate between the two. His A JOLLY CHRISTMAS album is one of the best ever. He owns MISTLETOE AND HOLLY, THE CHRISTMAS WALTZ, and I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. Anyone who hasn't listened to it, should check out YouTube or go to Amazon and order it (disclaimer: I'm receiving no compensation from Google, Jeff Bezos or the Sinatra estate. It's just a well-deserved plug for a great holiday record).

"200 years from now people will still be listening to Sinatra (and hopefully watching MASH reruns)." I assume your great-great-great-great-great grandchildren will be getting your residuals in bitcoin or some other form of cyber currency.

"Maybe if Ava Gardner had sung with Jefferson Airplane he would have gotten it." Since there were no bullfighters (that I'm aware of anyway) in the band, I doubt Ava would have been attracted to either Marty Balin or Paul Kantner.

"Were he alive I’m sure some no neck thugs would be visiting me." Don't underestimate the long reach of Frank. Expect a late-night knock at the door. Suggest you bring a bat when you answer.

"Frank (and remember I love him) was to comedy what Sam Kinison was to the Great American Songbook." Sam couldn't have done any worse than Rod Stewart did to it.

"And worse than not being funny– he thought he WAS funny." That's because his posse, uh pack, laughed at everything he said and so did the fans who adored him. Ava is probably the only one to tell him the truth.

"It’s the story of two Jewish brothers in New York. Frank gave it that ring-a-ding-ding edge you rarely see in Jewish families." You didn't think Richard Benjamin pulled that off in GOODBYE COLUMBUS? Maybe it was because he forgot to wear a hat (do they even make them anymore?).

Bill Avena said...

Forget that CBS shit. TCM had the 1965 special on last week where there were no commercials reminding us that the new melty cheese loaded grillers are, in fact, fully jacked.

blinky said...

SO of the 3000 albums out there of Sinatra which is the one to get that best exemplifies the best he did? When I do a search on iTunes he is wearing a hat in most of them.

Anne said...

"canda said... "Frank was funny in "Guys and Dolls"

Hey! I just watched the movie and canda's right! Sinatra is hilarious the whole time--his timing, inflection, even his face!


So what gives? Any Hollywood Insiders out there know how this happened? It can't just be due to Frank's resentment that Brando got to sing 'Luck Be a Lady'. Can it?

Perry Lambert said...

I'm huge Sinatra fan and your assessment on humour is spot on. Not on Frank's timing, but on better writers...he could have used some of Bob Hope's writers. The timing is there...watch him in "The Joker's Wild"..special material written for him ala Joe E Lewis.

DrBOP said...

Even though I came to appreciate Frankie as the decades rolled on, it should be mentioned here that there were MILLIONS of us who HATED Sinatra and EVERYthing he stood for.....ESPECIALLY his murderous "friends" (or "cretinous goons" as he had labelled rock singers in the 1957 Western World article tearing down 'da yoots).....and, sorry, I meant to say MF'IN LOATHED them. Yes, yes, there was the simplistic "ParentsLike=WeHate"-factor. But except for Sammy, the Rat Pack tag was appropriate as they scurried away from the 60s enlightenment.

Nowadays I try to save my hatred for things and people who TRULY deserve it, and, yes, he had the pipes/looks/act that you so admire. Still, it has always been a bit confusing to me that he took the stance against rock'n'roll that he did.
He had seen or performed with MANY black R&B performers over his career.....the Treniers, Louis Jordan, Count Basie, etc. MUCH of the music they were making was AT LEAST the basis of rock'n'roll, if not straight-ahead boogie-woogie rock by another name (just one example, 1948 Louis Jordan "Let The Good Times Roll"). Also, as we all know, he was somewhat progressive in helping to open up Las Vegas and other stages to black performers. So he really didn't react until the white folks got ahold of it.....hmmmmm.
Eventually I came to see his statements about the music were more protest against losing his "throne" to a new generation that he had no control over. The Voice was no longer the King.
And it can't be forgotten that Frank was in his 40s as rock'n'roll hit, so all you readers out there over the age of 45, how's about that wonderful Electronic Dance Music? Diggin' on Drake's "Call Me On The Cell Phone"? How about Korn's latest? And, boy, can that Miley Cyrus girl sing?
(Yes, I know our musical taste buds are less frozen in time in 2015, but the point holds true.....eventually, in general, you are not going to groove on your grand kids' tunes.) That's Life.

Charles H. Bryan said...

@Blink Try "80" ("80th", maybe?) Collects best of 50s Sinatra on Capitol Records. It's still my favorite. For the live performance, um, spice that Ken refers to, there's a live in Paris with the Count Base sextet. "Sinatra & Sextet: Live in Paris."

Charles H. Bryan said...

That should be @Blinky. Damn auto correct. No respect for creative spelling. Or, I might just be a lousy proofreader.

normadesmond said...

yes, tcm's showing of "the man & his music" was just peachy.

Mike Barer said...

Nancy is very accessible and has been known to exchange tweets with her fans as well as her dad's.

Stephen Marks said...

Frank Sinatra said... Its endsville for you baby, I don't need some hack saying shit about me in some diary, a poof like you probably doesn't even like dames. I bet booze ain't your bag either, your diary ain't no gas for me after I wake up from a clam-bake to swing with a ring-a-ding broad over breakfast at 5 in the afternoon and eyeball these lies. I'm sending Peter over to make sure punks like you know the score baby, even though I really dug that one where the shrinks ex-skirt comes back and bangs his brother"

gottacook said...

I'm just old enough to remember his late-'60s hits on top-40 radio ("Cycles," etc.) and the news stories about his retirement in the early 1970s, in particular how he chose the last song of his last concert so that it ended "Excuse me while I disappear..." In my opinion he should have stayed retired; his version of "New York, New York" sullies the memory of the original Liza Minnelli version (from the movie of the same title).

Frank Beans said...

In his defense, Sinatra did dub Peter Lawford, President Kennedy's brother-in-law, with the moniker of "Brother-in-Lawford". So at least he had some penchant for slightly clever wordplay.

Also, I would recommend the HBO movie from 1998 THE RAT PACK for some insight into what made his career in entertainment as well as politics eventually fall into steep decline.

Jeff Maxwell said...

Ay-Men, Ken. Sinatra's ethereal voice and his musical and lyrical interpretations could weave his way into places in your soul you didn't know were there. Much like what Larry Gelbart and you do with funny.

Charlie said...

As I get older, it's easier for me to understand the dislike of rock and roll that Sinatra's generation tended to feel. I know way too many middle-aged adults who only listen to "classic rock" (usually defined as whatever they were listening to in high school and college) who talk about "that crap that kids today are listening to" and "that's not music--you call that junk music?"

Mark Fearing said...

Love his old recordings, but I think at heart he was a bully and his fame and power more or less created a monster of a personality. He seemed to love belittling people in a cruel way, not a funny way. But that's not uncommon with people with a certain personality and who have power. And his hatred towards change more or less made a buffoon out of him. But those in power don't like to see the status-quo change. Why would they? I really enjoy his early records but politically culturally he was sort of a disaster.

Anonymous said...

Frank may not have been funny - but jokes about Frank were very funny.
Johnny Carson on joey Bishop - he couldn't be here, he hurt his back - genuflecting before Frank.

Shecky Greene had the best line -Frank Sinatra is a wonderful human being, he once saved my life. How? Frank said, "Ok boys that's enough."

H Johnson said...

When I was going to Aerosmith and Foghat concerts in high school I didn't much care for 'ol Blue Eyes. Didn't appreciate that odd cadence he had singing. As I got older and discovered jazz, Sinatra came into focus.

Now in my relaxed years I love Sinatra's music. I've been partial to the Capitol years but I'm starting to go back a bit and listen to him with Tommy Dorsey. Great stuff.

The rat pack was cool for it's time and if you didn't get it then, you won't now. Elvis had his entourage before that and and every wannabe celebrity has one now. Not sure if any of them could wear a tux like the pack though.

Sinatra was funny enough but picking on a dead singer for not yucking it up seems a little easy. When you have Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. in the room, I imagine there was no need to try and keep up.

Aloha

sanford said...

I get what Charlie is saying. I am 68 and I guess I have that feeling at times. Maybe I am alone in this and possibly the times I grew up in but I appreciatI e the music of 30's and 40's. How ever I do think a lot of the music today is pretty crappy. And maybe a lot of music of any era was probably crappy. There are only a certain amount of people or groups that can have real long lasting fame. My oldest is 32 and outside of maybe the Beatles,Rolling Stones, he has no clue about music of the 60's. We took him and his wife to see Love and Mercy and I don't think they have a clue to his influence in rock music.

Lauren said...

I know a surprising number of people like that, too, Charlie. People in their 40s and 50s who have that "these kids today and their crappy excuse for music" attitude. I guess, to a large degree, it's inevitable. My grandfather used to talk about how his parents couldn't stand the big band music of the 1930s and '40s that he and his generation used to listen to.

Jonathan McElroy said...

@Charlie: LOL! Know what you mean. One of my favorite CALVIN AND HOBBES comic strips was reprinted the other day. Calvin is listening to a radio and hears the announcer say the following: "You're listening to 'Boomer 102' Classic Rock--where we promise not to expose you to anything you haven't heard a million times before! We'll get right back to more hits from those high school days when your world stopped...but first, here's our critic to review the latest movie based on a '60s or '70s TV show."

I like Sinatra, though I didn't start listening to him until I was an adult. I worked in a music store in college (early 2000s), and he was one of the few pop singers of his era whose records you could still count on to sell. There were a handful of others, like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland and Dean Martin, but Sinatra was still out in front of the rest.

Len said...

emily said...

CBS failed to include multi-grammy winner Michael Bublé in "Sinatra 100 — An All-Star GRAMMY Concert."


Maybe Bublé turned CBS down. Given that his career has been one long Sinatra imitation, maybe he wanted to avoid too direct a comparison.

Pamela said...

His birthday is Dec. 12.

RCP said...

Bill Avena said...

Forget that CBS shit. TCM had the 1965 special on last week where there were no commercials reminding us that "the new melty cheese loaded grillers are, in fact, fully jacked."

For an instant, I thought you were paraphrasing some hip Rat Pack lingo, then realized you must be referring to Taco Bell.

Doug said...

No, the "melty cheese" thing is something Bill writes that wasn't funny the first time, and he seems to think that if he writes it over and over again, in pretty much every post he makes, that eventually it WILL be funny and somebody will laugh at it. Which isn't the case at all, but Bill doesn't seem to discourage easily.

Jason said...

As I've got older my music taste has really changed, I've pretty much just always enjoyed what is popular at the time. Maybe I'm the odd one out!

sean said...

Sinatra was a huge ass. My great aunt worked in Vegas and saw him treat a lot of people horribly.
But guess he did have a sense of humor with Rickles. Great Rickles line: 'Make yourself comfortable Frank-hit somebody!'

CRL said...

Sinatra was hilarious.





No, wait. I'm thinking of Phil Hartman. Never mind......

Gary said...

I get that as each generation ages, they tend to dislike and dismiss the music popular with the current "youngsters" (as Ed Sullivan used to call them). And I'm sure those of us who love and romanticize the 60's era can be pretty insufferable. But nobody will ever convince me that rap qualifies as music. It may be some sort of art form, but it is NOT music -- for that you need verse, melody, harmony, etc.

MikeN said...

Mark Steyn has been doing a tribute to Sinatra all year at steynonline.com

Sinatra was the first choice for The Godfather. I think that would have been even better than Brando.

blinky said...

"80 Sinatra" search in iTunes returns "80's Dude by Dank Sinatra".

Pat Reeder said...

Sinatra is a good example of having to separate the work from the man to appreciate it fully. It's odd that someone who could be so insensitive in real life was able to imbue a lyric with more real emotion than any other pop singer in history. Plus, he understood what made a great arrangement. When I was the record librarian for TM Productions, we had an easy listening format, and I oversaw multiple copies of every album by every singer/player in that genre. We had dozens of male singers: Vic Damone, Jack Jones, etc. Some had excellent voices, others not so much. But none could do what Frank did. If you don't understand what made him special, listen to one of his recordings back to back with the same song by someone else. I wouldn't recommend starting with John Davidson, or you might get whiplash from the plunge in musical quality. Only rare artists, such as Mel Torme or Tony Bennett, could stand up to the comparison.

On a sidenote, I noticed something interesting a year or so ago. My wife and I attended a touring production of one of those Rat Pack Tribute shows. All the performers were terrific mimics. "Frank" opened the show, with some classic standards and arrangements that got a warm but not overly-effusive welcome from the crowd. But then, the mandolins began strumming, the chorus sang, "In Napolee, where love is king," the opening of the cheesy "That's Amore" that signaled that "Dean" was coming out...and the entire place went NUTS! Screaming, cheers, applause. The crowd was thrilled to death just at the thought that they were soon going to see a faux Dean Martin.

So Sinatra may have been the greater artist, but to this day, Dino is still the cool one that the public loves most. That's why it's been said that everyone wanted to be Frank Sinatra except Frank Sinatra, who wanted to be Dean Martin.

Pat Reeder said...

PS - I second MikeN's recommendation of Mark Steyn's Sinatra tribute columns. He's writing individual detailed histories of 100 different songs recorded by Sinatra. It's fascinating to see the obscure information he's unearthed about how these tunes came to be written and recorded, and how Frank and his arrangers made changes that turned a tune that had been kicking around for years with little notice into a timeless classic.

Diane D. said...

Actually, Rap is music. The most basic definition of music is "organized sound", and most of the scores of definitions all include some version of that statement. The famous classical composer, Arnold Schoenberg's 12 tone music did away with melody and other aspects of music we had come to expect, but it was accepted as music, although most people hated it. It sounded like noise or the orchestra warming up to me, but it was music. It's better to say you hate Rap than to declare that it is not music.

Anonymous said...

Actually it's not that odd that someone who was so insensitive could create great art.
John Lennon was pretty much a total jerk.
As was Bob Dylan in his twenties.
Lots of movie stars as well.

Mike Doran said...

True story (as I recall it):

In the '60s, Sinatra had ceded control of his music to Jimmy Bowen, the A&R guy at Reprise Records.
Each year, two LPs would come out like clockwork; Bowen would handpick the songs, and Sinatra's vocals would be ... well, like clockwork.
So it's '64, and a song plugger from MCA comes to see Bowen, with a bunch of melodies from the score of a Universal flick called A MAN COULD GET KILLED.
When Bowen heard one of the melodies, which was called "Beddy Bye" in the score, he told the MCA guy, "Put the right lyric on this and Frank Sinatra will record it."
So the MCA guy goes back and gets a couple of house lyricists to work on a romantic lyric for "Beddy Bye".
When they get through with the job, Jimmy Bowen presents the new song to Frank Sinatra -
- and Frank absolutely HATES the song.
The melody, the lyric, the arrangement - everything.
But he doesn't have a choice - Bowen picked it out, and Frank HAS to record it to make the timetable.
Now, if the MCA lyricists had written -
- "I burned down my house
For the insurance ..."
- Sinatra would have had to sing that.
But instead, the MCA lyricists came up with -
- "Strangers In The Night,
Exchanging glances ..."
- And Sinatra was stuck.
So when he went into the studio, he decided to sabotage the record.
Listen to it sometime - Frank takes what is supposed to be a romantic ballad ...
... and SNARLS the words; he makes the love song sound like a threat.
At the finish, Frank decides to musically flip off Bowen, by improvising a scat over the fade - you remember: "Doobie Doobie Doo ..."
Clearly, Sinatra figured that Bowen would edit out the scat.
But Bowen left it in ... and lo and behold, "Strangers In The Night" became Sinatra's first Number One record in years.
And (the story goes) Sinatra hated the song to the end of his days.
The snarling and scatting were examples of the Sinatra "sense of humor".
But he outsmarted himself (or maybe Jimmy Bowen outsmarted him ...).

Unknown said...

My question exactly

Aaron Hazouri said...

I never really cared for Sinatra, my dad never cared for him, and his dad never cared for him - I was born into a Tony Bennet family. (With a little Nat King Cole on the side.)

Though for me personally, the fact that he was instrumental in Don Rickles' success is reason enough to justify his career...!

hkl said...

I agree with Emily.... where is Michael Buble in this 100 year tribute?????

Brian said...

Regarding Sinatra's disdain for Rock and for that matter, Cosby's odd relationship with Soul and R&B, much like Rap/Hip-Hop, Rock was considered a fad and/or kid's stuff. Stan Freberg, a devout Jazz fan recorded his parody of "Sh-Boom" and at one event, he played it and said, "I hope this puts an end to Rhythm and Blues".

A quote from musician/presenter Steve Race is in order,"When you turn 35, something terrible happens to music".

Aaron Sheckley said...

It's a tribute to Frank Sinatra's enduring appeal that not one snarky millenial has written the standard comment of "Who the f__k is Frank Sinatra, I never heard of him".

Rock Golf said...

"And it can't be forgotten that Frank was in his 40s as rock'n'roll hit, so all you readers out there over the age of 45, how's about that wonderful Electronic Dance Music? Diggin' on Drake's "Call Me On The Cell Phone"? How about Korn's latest? And, boy, can that Miley Cyrus girl sing?"

I'm 57, and I love "Hotline Bling", probably because it's based on a sample from "Why Can't We Live Together" by Timmy Thomas from early 1973. Never cared for Korn one way of the other.

And, dear God, YES! Miley Cyrus can sing! Go to Netflix, pick A Very Murray Christmas, skip the interminable first 45 minutes of a one hour special and listen to Cyrus sing "Silent Night" sitting on a piano in an elf suit. When she wants to be, Cyrus is k.d. lang good, which is the highest praise I can give.
So, remarkably, is Lady Gaga.

McAlvie said...

Yeah, he was a great crooner in an age when there were a lot of greats. Some of his movies were fun, but mostly when he was basically playing himself. I don't think his acting was bad, but he was definitely better as a singer.

We have some good musical talent today, but sometimes it's hard to tell because it is too often laden with gimmicks and hype. Back then, you just stood there and sang ... if you had no talent, people were going to notice pretty quickly. I think that's why we still listen to Sinatra et al. The talent, and the respect they seemed to have for the music, is timeless.

ScottyB said...

Phil Hartman probably captured Sinatra's disdain for rock 'n roll better than anyone, in Hartman's SNL days. The immortal line, "I got chunks of guys like you in my stool" was never more masterfully delivered.

Other than that, it's tough to argue with the mastery of Sinatra's "The Summer Wind." The man deserved to be a legend, but only -- as Ken points out -- during the period when he wore a hat. After that was just embarrassing and cringeworthy, like Jerry Lewis after Dean Martin.

ScottyB said...

Eddie Simmons: When you're making out, which do you prefer, Sinatra or Mathis?
Boogie Sheftell: I like Presley.

-- Dialog from 'Diner'.

For me, a far more interesting debate would have been "When you're making out, which do you prefer, Sinatra or Nat King Cole?"

Tim Dunleavy said...

For all the people wondering why Michael Bublé wasn't on the CBS special... well, keep in mind that Mr. Bublé has his OWN special coming up Thursday night on NBC. Why would he do two in one week, on different networks?

Stoney said...

Twenty years ago there was a special on ABC celebrating Sinatra's 80th birthday and Frank was in attendance smiling and applauding as Bruce Springsteen, Hootie And The Blowfish, Natalie Cole and others sang the songs he made famous.

Sinatra often credited the composers of great songs but when he added "Something" to the repertoire he at first credited Lennon and McCartney instead of the actual writer, George Harrison. Granted he was not the biggest Beatles fan but wouldn't he have seen the name on the sheet?

Mike R. said...

I enjoyed much of the show. I was surprised how well Usher did. It wasn't his normal style but wow, he adapted to it really well & did a great job. Nick Jonas was a VERY poor fit. Talented at his game, but NOT for Sinatra vocals. His voice is too weak/soft for this. Trisha Yearwood did very well also. My #1 was lady Gaga for the finale. It was a home run! SOOO talented. Even with the dancer screwing up, LG still pulled it off 100%.

Unknown said...

CBS Sunday morning had a nice piece on Sinatra. Of course it was to promote their special. They did gloss over his Italian friends, but did paint a picture of his friendship with Sammy. Said they were close, but not close enough to over turn JFK's not allowing Sammy to attend the inaugural ball Frank arranged.

Anonymous said...

What a mess of a show! Seemed like it was an after thought or a way to get Wynn some publicity. Besides Tony there wasn't anything remotely interesting and none of the singers could capture any Sinatra in their boring renditions. A total snooze fest and the Lady Gaga ending was just plain weird.

CarolMR said...

But instead, the MCA lyricists came up with -
- "Strangers In The Night,
Exchanging glances ..."
- And Sinatra was stuck.
So when he went into the studio, he decided to sabotage the record.
Listen to it sometime - Frank takes what is supposed to be a romantic ballad ...
... and SNARLS the words; he makes the love song sound like a threat.
At the finish, Frank decides to musically flip off Bowen, by improvising a scat over the fade - you remember: "Doobie Doobie Doo ..." - Mike Doran



Interesting story. I always thought, when listening to the very end of "Strangers" that as Frank's voice trailed off, he did a sarcastic scat which sounded like, "wah, wah, wah, wah, wah..."

thomas tucker said...

There are some very good biographies of Sinatra out there. He could be a true asshole to people, but then he could also send people in need large sums of money anonymously. Even his hangers-on were conflicted about him. I think he had a lot of self-hatred and insecurity, but damn, could he sing.

Andy Rose said...

Sam Kinison was actually a borderline decent singer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ7zq3jKuVY

Unknown said...

I've been wondering why! Hopefully someone will come clean with a reason.

Bruce Z said...

I've been wondering why! Hopefully someone will come clean with a reason.

blogward said...

A brilliant observation, Mr. Levine, sir. (Why am I surprised? Your blog will be rediscovered in 2525 as the 20th/early 21st century oracle). Sinatra was that rare beast, a great, great singer (not as good, mind, as the God-like squirt Matt Monro) who was a better-than-good actor, though next time I catch him on the tube I will be saying to myself, "Come on Frank, where's your sense of humor?". Oh yes, Frank had a big chip on his shoulder, which is why Joe Schmoe identifies with him. But it also gave him an edge that big-bucks singers from Bing Crosby to Paul MaCartney have simply never possessed or understood.

CarolMR said...

I have read many times that Sinatra as a boy was very lonely. He used to sit on his stoop alone after school waiting for his parents to come home from work. An only child, a neighbor said Frank was the loneliest little boy she had ever seen. His mother Dolly (Natalie) was a fierce woman and I'm sure she had a lot to do with whatever contradictions were deep in her son.

Pat Reeder said...

Frank did hate "Strangers In The Night." Here is a more complete recounting of the story of that song: http://www.steynonline.com/7247/strangers-in-the-night

That Sinatra special was about 70% painful. Next year, let Seth MacFarlane, Trisha Yearwood and John Legend do the live singing and add more clips of Sinatra himself. And I think the man recorded enough songs that we could fill two hours without resorting to U2 dirges that he rejected. Sorry, Bono, ever consider that he rejected it for a reason? If he rejected a jewel like "She's Such A Groovy Lady," there's no way he would've done that piece of crap.

VP81955 said...

Blinky: If you have to get one single Sinatra album, go for "In The Wee Small Hours." No pop album has ever better explored the anatomy of melancholy, in 16 wonderfully crafted songs. Hard to believe it's now more than 60 years old.

I should also note Sinatra's Columbia period (1943-1952), especially the period from 1945-1947 when he was a romantic balladeer without peer. In that category, he had only a few rivals in the '40s -- Nat Cole, Billy Eckstine and, believe it or not, Perry Como, whose Victor sides from that era are nearly as good as Frank's. But when pop music turned away from standards and Broadway and focused on the trivial and mundane (aka the Mitch Miller effect), Como went along with the flow but Sinatra rebelled. Thankfully, he found a home at Capitol Records, which let him pioneer the long-play album as art form.

Saw Sinatra twice live -- at the Kennedy Center in 1983 (the opening act was, of all people, the Flying Karamazov Brothers!) and in 1986 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, which was two-thirds full despite having some of the most avid fans of his around. He was still in good voice, but for live Frank, check out his 1959 album from Australia, where he does a swingingly terrific "Night and Day" with Red Norvo. (Three years later, in a Paris concert, he approached the song from a starkly different but equally brilliant perspective, accompanied only by a guitarist.)

Craig Gustafson said...

Sinatra's sense of humor may have been knocked out of him by the career sag in the early 50s. I can't find the book of interviews with radio writers where one of them talked about a radio show with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. (I think the interview was in "The Laugh Crafters.") The writer said that Crosby & Hope dropped the script and started ad-libbing. Everyone was feeling sorry for Sinatra -- who then proceeded to mop the floor with both Hope and Crosby. Nobody expected it.

Anonymous said...

I live in a suburb of St. Louis with a large private college that built a performing arts center. St. Louis gets the A listers, we get the B and Cs. Which is fine...they have to make a living, too.

Just saw their marquee and they are advertising a show next year. Sinatra singing Sinatra. I always remember Junior having a fine voice, but how could he EVER compete wit Dad?

Pam, St. Louis

CarolMR said...

Dennis Miller talks about the time he had dinner with Frank Sinatra (also included is a funny story about Don Rickles):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQyJlKI26lk

Hank Gillette said...

I like what Brando said about Sinatra: “Frank’s the kind of guy, when he dies, he’s going to heaven and give God a bad time for making him bald.”