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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life is the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Friday, October 2

Frank Sinatra

I’m beginning to realize just how full and influential a music life Sinatra had. The number of albums he has out is mind-boggling. I thought at one time I had nearly all of them. Not even close. I now have 63 albums, eight of which are multiple disc albums, one of which is a 20-album compilation of all the songs he recorded for his company, Reprise Records. I think I may have about three-quarters of all the albums he’s done, many of which are no longer available. I own very few of the pre-Capitol records, mainly because I don’t think his voice was very good in those early days when he was the bobbysocks heartthrob of the nation’s girls and women, singing with the big bands, especially Harry James and Tommy Dorsey. It was just too thin and reedy, sort of the way he was built back then.
For a while at the end of the Forties and into the early Fifties, he sort of disappeared, and then reappeared with a bang when he played Maggio in From Here to Eternity. His career in movies and records went up and up with roles in The Manchurian Candidate, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Young at Heart, and his move from Columbia Records to Capitol when he first teamed with Nelson Riddle, then later with Gordon Jenkins and Billy May, beginning with Songs for Young Lovers. He was all over the news with his marriages (Barbara Barbato, Ava Gardner, Mia Farrow, and Barbara Marx) and antics at Caesar's Palace with his Rat Pack buddies, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.
And there were stories of his Mob connections that hurt him. In the Fifties, his voice took on that depth of maturity—vocal abuse, cigarettes, and booze—that gave him that distinctive Sinatra style.
Of course, he always had a unique talent for vocal timing. But it’s the voice I find so interesting. Then in the Sixties and Seventies when he was really aging and getting fat and still abusing his voice, the quality got even richer. Even into the Eighties he was still the King as far as I’m concerned. His audience diminished because he wasn’t able to win over many of the younger generation, and the public appearances went down and the recording slowed. Then in the Nineties, lo and behold, he came out with the Duets, I and II, and they sold like hotcakes. Too bad, because they’re more curiosity pieces than quality productions, curiosity over the aging Sinatra and a voice that now sounded very much like a seventy-five-year-old man, one who’d spent the majority of his life smoking and boozing. Some of the old numbers he tried to do on the two Duets are downright embarrassing. But when he was good, like on the vast majority of numbers he’d done in a lifetime of song, he’s so good it makes me want to cry for the loss of life and talent, his as well as mine.

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