31. Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) was a singer and actor from Hoboken, New Jersey, located across the Hudson River from Manhattan and New York City. The son of Italian immigrants, Sinatra was singing from a young age, performing in local clubs at the age of eight and singing professionally as a teenager. Several steps led to Sinatra’s success, but his big break came in 1939, when bandleader Harry James let the young singer break his contract with James to sign with Tommy Dorsey’s popular orchestra. He was especially popular with young women, and helped create the phenomenon of the “bobby-soxer”, an early example of hip American teen culture.

In the late forties, with his singing popularity waning, Sinatra parlayed his fame and talent into a fine acting career, and he leaves an impressive resume, including an Oscar for best supporting actor in 1953’s From Here To Eternity. Sinatra’s singing career entered a second phase after signing with Capitol Records in 1951, where Capitol paired him with gifted arrangers to create memorable versions of pop standards. Sinatra became immensely popular again, this time with a more mature audience. In 1960, dissatisfied with Capitol after a productive nine year relationship, he formed his own record label, Reprise Records.

Frank Sinatra is the most famous, and arguably the greatest singer of 20th Century pop standards, an influential presence in show business, and a polarizing figure off stage. The Wikipedia biography, plus other suggested links, explain much more about this fascinating success story.


Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), singer

http://www.sinatra.com — Official Frank Sinatra Website
Frank Sinatra’s Family Website

Sinatra’s Conductors:

Nelson Riddle (1921-1985), arranger, composer
Billy May (1916-2004), arranger, composer
Gordon Jenkins (1910-1984), arranger, composer

The Thin Idol

Early in his career, Frank Sinatra was very thin, and possessed a pleasant voice that lacks the resonance of his middle age years.

The first clip is a Looney Tunes cartoon featuring Sylvester the Cat, a gaunt rooster named Frankie and an annoyed parrot named Bing. The following video shows a young Frank Sinatra and his adoring bobby-soxer fans.

I kept two songs from Sinatra’s early days, one with Harry James (“All Or Nothing At All”) and one with Tommy Dorsey (“I’ll Never Smile Again”), both of which were #1 hits.

The Capitol Years

Sinatra re-emerged in the early fifties with a deeper, mellower voice, and together with the Capitol Records orchestra he created a series of themed albums of pop standards. The fifties Capitol recordings are generally considered his finest; to me, these sound similar to the Capitol recordings by Nat “King” Cole. A good place to start a collection is the compilation Frank Sinatra — The Capitol Years. Here are three fine vintage television broadcasts from the fifties:

Amazon.com Link to “Frank Sinatra — The Capitol Years

The Sixties And Beyond

By 1960, Sinatra owned his own record company, one that eventually featured rock musicians such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Neil Young, among others. He was a regular presence on television shows, and performed regularly with friends Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. He was both politically connected at the highest levels of government, as well as associated with prominent organized crime figures.

2009 CBS Report — Tina Sinatra: Mob Ties Aided JFK

Crime Library — All About Frank Sinatra and The Mob, by Anthony Bruno

Wikipedia Description of the Rat Pack

Frank Sinatra with bossa nova guitarist and composer Antonio Carlos Jobim:

Frank Sinatra was not part of my childhood music experience. My parents never owned his records, and I vaguely remember a quiet disdain for him. It might have been his alleged mob connections. It might have been his deferral from military service during World War II; there were rumors his deferral was arranged, which engendered resentment among veterans and other patriots. It might also have been what Frank Sinatra represented: a show biz aristocrat and power broker who helped define a form of dark ages entertainment my parents found stodgy and disingenuous. Though they also grew up in or near New York, he was very different from them, and they chose not to listen to him.

There’s no disputing his talent. His music fills a niche in my collection, the orchestra fronted by a male singer, and Sinatra is the gold standard. He sings beautifully, accurately, and free of vocal histrionics. The band arrangers present varied and interesting interpretations of the pop standards.

In addition to The Capitol Years, I also recommend the four-CD compilation Frank Sinatra — The Reprise Collection. Between the Capitol and Reprise compilations, the casual listener can acquire most of his famous songs.

The Famous Don Rickles Story

“Before our lunch ended, I asked if he would tell the now classic story about Frank Sinatra that famously left Carson helpless with laughter.

“It’s a true story, so help me God,” he began obligingly. “Sinatra was headlining at the Sands, and I was with this girl having dinner in the lounge. She wasn’t anybody I would bring home to my mother, but I really wanted to score big. Frank was in the lounge at his table with Lena Horne and some other celebrities and all his security guards. And my date says, ‘My God, there’s Frank Sinatra! Do you know him?’

“I said, ‘Sure, he’s a friend of mine.’ Which he was. But I made it sound like my whole life. ‘We’re like brothers!’ She didn’t believe me. So I said, ‘Wait here, sweetheart,’ and I went over to Frank’s table. ‘What do you want, Bullethead?’ he said. That was his nickname for me. I told him I was trying to impress this girl and would he do me a very big favor and come over and just say hello. He said, ‘For you, Bullethead, I’ll do it.’”

Five minutes later, Sinatra strolled over and said, “Don, how the hell are you?”

And Don Rickles looked up and replied, “Not now, Frank. Can’t you see I’m with somebody?”

— John Heilpern with Don Rickles

Frank Sinatra Song Notes:

1. “One For My Baby (Alt)” is the demo version presented on The Capitol Years compilation. Just Sinatra and pianist Bill Miller, it is the great “last call” song. A personal favorite.

Frank Sinatra Songs:

One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) (Alt), Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭✭✭

I Get A Kick Out Of You, Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭✭
I’ve Got Your Under My Skin, Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭✭
In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning, Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭✭
The Way You Look Tonight, Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭✭
One For My Baby (And One More For The Road), Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭✭

I’ve Got You Under My Skin (Live), Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭
Angel Eyes, Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭
Summer Wind, Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭
That’s Life, Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭
Fly Me To The Moon, Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭
Theme From “New York, New York”, Frank Sinatra ✭✭✭

Here’s That Rainy Day, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
I’ve Got The World On A String, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
They Can’t Take That Away from Me, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
Someone To Watch Over Me, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
(Love Is) The Tender Trap, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
The Lady Is A Tramp, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
Witchcraft, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
My Way, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
All The Way, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
I’ve Got A Crush On You, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
Wave, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
The Best Is Yet To Come, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
All Or Nothing At All, Frank Sinatra (w/Harry James & His Orchestra) ✭✭
Something Stupid, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
Moonlight In Vermont, Frank Sinatra ✭✭
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Frank Sinatra ✭✭

Luck Be A Lady, Frank Sinatra
Young At Heart, Frank Sinatra
Love And Marriage, Frank Sinatra
You Make Me Feel So Young, Frank Sinatra
Just In Time, Frank Sinatra
Strangers In The Night, Frank Sinatra
My Kind Of Town, Frank Sinatra
It Was A Very Good Year, Frank Sinatra
You’d Be So Easy To Love, Frank Sinatra
I’ll Never Smile Again, Frank Sinatra (w/ Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra)
I Couldn’t Care Less, Frank Sinatra
Lonesome Road, Frank Sinatra
Night And Day, Frank Sinatra
What Is This Thing Called Love?, Frank Sinatra
Polka Dots And Moonbeams, Frank Sinatra (w/ Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra)

Related Songs:

I Get A Kick Out Of You, Dinah Washington
I Get A Kick Out Of You, Ella Fitzgerald

That’s Life (Live), James Brown ✭✭✭✭
That’s Life (Live), Van Morrison

Here’s That Rainy Day, Sammy Davis, Jr. ✭✭✭
Here’s That Rainy Day, Freddie Hubbard ✭✭
Here’s That Rainy Day, Joe Pass ✭✭

I’ve Got The World On A String, Anita O’Day ✭✭

They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Billie Holiday ✭✭✭
They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Ella Fitzgerald

Someone To Watch Over Me, Blossom Dearie ✭✭
Someone To Watch Over Me, Stanley Turrentine ✭✭
Someone To Watch Over Me, Ella Fitzgerald ✭✭

The Lady Is A Tramp, Ella Fitzgerald

Witchcraft, Elvis Presley ✭✭
Witchcraft, The Spiders

Wave, Antonio Carlos Jobim ✭✭
Wave, Oscar Peterson & Claus Ogerman’s Orchestra

All Or Nothing At All, Diana Krall

Moonlight In Vermont, Willie Nelson ✭✭✭
Moonlight In Vermont, Nat King Cole Trio ✭✭✭
Moonlight In Vermont, Marian McPartland ✭✭

I Love Rock And Roll (Medley), Joe Piscopo ✭✭

Lonesome Road, Madeleine Peyroux ✭✭
Lonesome Road, Sister Rosetta Tharpe & Lucky Millinder And His Orchestra

Polka Dots And Moonbeams, Bud Powell ✭✭
Polka Dots And Moonbeams, Hank Garland ✭✭
Polka Dots And Moonbeams, Wes Montgomery ✭✭

What Is This Thing Called Love? (Live), Charlie Parker ✭✭
What Is This Thing Called Love?, Artie Shaw

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, The Carpenters

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