December 12, 2015

The Chairman at 100


Frank Sinatra was now involved with many things involving many people

-- his own film company, his record company, his private airline, his missile-parts firm, his real-estate holdings across the nation, his personal staff of seventy-five -- which are only a portion of the power he is and has come to represent. He seemed now to be also the embodiment of the fully emancipated male, perhaps the only one in America, the man who can do anything he wants, anything, can do it because he has money, the energy, and no apparent guilt. In an age when the very young seem to be taking over, protesting and picketing and demanding change, Frank Sinatra survives as a national phenomenon, one of the few prewar products to withstand the test of time. He is the champ who made the big comeback, the man who had everything, lost it, then got it back, letting nothing stand in his way, doing what few men can do: he uprooted his life, left his family, broke with everything that was familiar, learning in the process that one way to hold a woman is not to hold her. Now he has the affection of Nancy and Ava and Mia, the fine female produce of three generations, and still has the adoration of his children, the freedom of a bachelor, he does not feel old, he makes old men feel young, makes them think that if Frank Sinatra can do it, it can be done; not that they could do it, but it is still nice for other men to know, at fifty, that it can be done. Frank Sinatra Has a Cold - Gay Talese

Sinatra’s way

Pop music is particularly prone to the style: the writer Greil Marcus is its high priest, lionising Elvis Presley or Bob Dylan as outsiders who changed everything. In an echo of the 19th-century historian Thomas Carlyle (“The history of the world is but the biography of great men”), they are held up as the unconventional “founding fathers” of postwar America, remaking the world anew through force of individuality.
Sinatra wasn’t averse to casting himself in the same light, as with his brassy anthems of self-fulfilment, “That’s Life” and “Theme from New York, New York”. “My Way”, released in 1969, is the prime example, sung by Sinatra with the gusto of a bull in a china shop. But Sinatra actually disliked the song, written for him by the singer Paul Anka. It “really had nothing to do with my life whatsoever”, he complained. “I know it’s a very big hit — and I love having big hits — but every time I get up to sing that song I grit my teeth . . . ”
The style he honed was the product of science as well as art. Sinatra’s favourite microphone, the Neumann U47, came on the market in 1949; its sound quality remains almost unmatched today. Advances in vinyl production, studio equipment and high-fidelity stereo systems lay behind his recordings in the 1950s, allowing him to murmur sweet nothings from the turntable in the nation’s living rooms. When he sang “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, the real meaning lay the other way round. It was his voice charming the ears of millions, getting under their skin, a physiological seduction brought about by recording technology.

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king
I've been up and down and over and out and I know one thing
Each time I find myself layin' flat on my face
I just pick myself up and get back in the race

That's life (that's life), that's life and I can't deny it
Many times I thought of cuttin' out but my heart won't buy it
But if there's nothin' shakin' come this here July
I'm gonna roll myself up in a big ball a-and die

Posted by gerardvanderleun at December 12, 2015 9:21 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

We teen age boys made fun of him a lot in the WW2 years. When word got out that he was 4F for mental problems we really howled (don't know if that was ever proven).

Posted by: BillH at December 12, 2015 9:53 AM

From Here to Eternity

Posted by: ghostsniper at December 12, 2015 10:22 AM

Is programed by Jonathan Schwartz and features Sinatra. Jonathan, son of composer Arthur Schwartz ("Dancing in the Dark" & "That's Entertainment!"), as one of the most vocal proponents of the Great American Songbook, of which Sinatra was the foremost exponent.

Posted by: Fat Man at December 12, 2015 10:39 AM

In the '50s and early '60s Sinatra sang songs that young men half his age wanted to sing, but couldn't. Now they are in the eighties and he's no longer here, except in spirit and in the minds of the same men who still want to sing those songs and still can't. But they don't forget that he could. And they never will forget that. He will live on; first in their memories then in the digital cyberspere for as long as humanity exists.That is some achievement, for a minor mobster.

Posted by: Frank P at December 12, 2015 2:11 PM

Here, this will download just about any Web based video, Youtube, Vimeo etc, and then allow you to convert it to an MP3 file for your later listening pleasure.

Posted by: Bill Jones at December 12, 2015 4:49 PM

It's nice to be perfect isn't it?

Frank Sinatra was not a "minor mobster." You can try to tumble him down to your level with cheap shots and second-hand wit, but I don't think it really works.

He was the consummate artist. Just listen to his versions of almost any songs, compared even to their authors or those who introduced them.

Listen to Bing Crosby singing "I don't stand a ghost of a chance with you," and then listen to Mr. Sinatra.

Much of the material in the "great American song book" would be worthy of the great Provencal troubadours. How great would it have been, to have heard those lyrics performed by as thoughtful, as impassioned, as technically brilliant a singer as Mr. Sinatra. But you can get an idea of how some of those lyrics might have rippled across Eleanor of Aquitaine's court, listening to the Capitol sides.

He is the only singer I can think of whose nuanced emotionality rivals Billie Holiday's. And the voice itself, of course, was one of the great instruments of the 20th century.

Posted by: Punditarian at December 13, 2015 6:58 AM

Here we go again with this bird. By the time I'd come along he already had the hairpiece and numerous blowouts with the paparazzi. Me and a friend had a mutual dislike of him, and it became "our thing". We'd cut our long hair at that point in the seventies, and when we found a couple of cheap tuxedos stored in a neighbors garage, was relentless. Not a small thing in the part of the country we were from, where he was revered as some type of demigod. We even became regulars at a local red and black Naugahyde lounge where four nights a week a swanky cat on a Hammond would belt out the hits. It got weird, it got dangerous. Then Piscopo came along and we were vindicated, albeit too late for Ladies Night-a. We were asked not to return. Even in civvies. But now, after thirty years of hip-hop, I think I've got a better grasp on the mystery of his longevity. Hype. Unrelenting hype and decades of saturation marketing.

Posted by: Will at December 14, 2015 2:10 PM

The people that worked for him loved him. Sinatra was a railroad fan and his staff put their money together and bought him a railroad car. He put a model train set and a bar in that car and at night would tell his wife that he was going to "play with his train set." In other words, he was going to his back yard bar to get crocked.

Posted by: Clinton at December 14, 2015 9:09 PM