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#302: Songs for Swingin' Lovers! by Frank Sinatra

11.29.2011


Songs for Swingin' Lovers! by Frank Sinatra (1956)

Favorite Track(s): "You Make Me Feel So Young" and "It Happened in Monterey" and "You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me" and "Too Marvelous for Words" and "Old Devil Moon" and "Pennies from Heaven" and "Love is Here to Stay" (or "Our Love is Here to Stay" as I, and supposedly Ira Gershwin as well, prefer it to call it) and "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Makin' Whoopee" and "Anything Goes" and "How About You"

Thoughts: I don't know, I think Frank Sinatra is kind of overrated.

Ha! Just kidding. That's impossible, of course. He's Ol' Blue Eyes! The Chairman of the Board! The Voice! To know Sinatra is to love him.

Well, except that back in 2009 I read a semi-decent fiction book called The Song is You by Arthur Phillips, and at one point the narrator's 'dream-girl' says: “...I will say that people like me think he wasn’t any good as a jazz singer—he couldn’t swing. And he wasn’t any good as a pop singer—he couldn’t arouse. He was a court minstrel for thugs. He could scarcely carry a tune. A visual artist, not a singer.” After reading that, I knew I could neither trust the music opinions of the character, nor the author, for the rest of the book, for they were clearly deaf to one of the best voices the world will ever hear.

I LOVE Sinatra. Did you know? In the 90s (maybe 1995 when he died?) I had a 365 Days of Frank Sinatra calendar. I own 8 of his movies and have seen 15 (which isn't that impressive, because we all know he did a lot of acting). When I was in Vegas my mom and I saw a Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra impersonation act (a woman in the front row sobbed uncontrollably through "My Way"). His life/persona--while often troubling--is fascinating to me. Little things like the knowledge that he was Bing Crosby's biggest fan, and so even though he no longer wanted to make musicals, he starred in High Society (1956) just so they could work together. But ultimately, I think I have exactly 150 songs* (not that impressive either) of his on my iPod because God lives in his vocal chords.

Needless to say, when I saw that this was the next album on the list, I was a little excited.



In the Survey of Popular Music class I took in college our professor talked about Sinatra's musical genius; how he would take a piece of music and give it his own touches and changes that made it his alone. This album is--in short--perfection. So many unbeatable American songbook standards sung with a voice that is so rich and full and commanding but easy and light as well. GUSH GUSH GUSH GUSH GUSH GUSH GUSH.

Props should be given to arranger Nelson Riddle (the music is at once tight AND lush), but this album proves that Michael Buble and Harry Connick, Jr. can try all they want, but we'll never hear the likes of this again. I mean, doesn't it make you want to put on a pair of heels and an apron and dance with someone in a kitchen while you make dinner? Or walk the streets of Paris at night with a stranger you randomly met in a museum? Or glide across a ballroom floor in a flowing gown, dizzy from the music and champagne? OR JUST FALL ON YOUR KNEES AND THANK GOD FOR FRANCIS ALBERT SINATRA?

I will be sad if this is his only album on the list, but still pleased as punch that at least some voters remembered him and got this one to be at 302. You could listen to this album for the rest of your life and never be disappointed.

Is This Better Than Help!?: That's a yes from me.



*Gawd almighty, how are you still reading this gushy, un-ending post? I asterisked the 150 songs in case you were somehow possibly maybe interested in my favorite song of all 150. It's a hard question to answer. I have to split it up 3 ways: by film songs, live songs, and studio songs.

Favorite Film Song: a tie between his duet with Betty Garrett in On the Town, "You're Awful", his duet with Kathryn Grayson in It Happened in Brooklyn, "La Ci Darem La Mano", and his duet with Celeste Holm in High Society, "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" (that last of which, yes, inspired the name of the game show)

Favorite Live Song: hands down, "One For My Baby" from '57 in Concert

Favorite Studio Song: It's a tie between "All the Way" and "Young at Heart" and "Lost in the Stars" and "If I Loved You" and "I Concentrate on You" and of course "The Way You Look Tonight" and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" and "Come Fly With Me" and sheesh this got out of hand.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

LOVE this post, Maryann! Gush all you want!

Anonymous said...

that comment was from me.
MB