Swing Hard.
[c30, c60, c90 -- swing!!]
The music on this tape might not be to everybody's taste. This is not meant to be the definitive collection of Frank's music, but a subjective collection; a personal essay in songs -- Frank as I will remember him, for good or for bad. A life distilled down to a mix tape.

I would hate to think that anyone could have a simple reaction to Frank Sinatra or his music.

1."All or Nothing At All"(1939)

A big hit for Frank, four years after it was recorded, when Columbia re-released it at the height of the AFM strike. A sweet, subdued Frank, but the title sets the tone for what follows. (from Harry James and his Orchestra featuring Frank Sinatra)

2."I'll Never Smile Again"(1940)

The inherent pathos of this song - written by a wife after the death of her husband, a theme to resonate during the coming war years - somehow never overwhelms Sinatra or his restrained interpretation. (from The Song is You)

3."The Song is You"(1942)

Frank's first real hit, and the theme song of his years with Dorsey. The live version included in the box set, the last number he sang with Dorsey before leaving for Columbia, may be the choice version. (from The Song is You)

4."Night and Day"(1942, from The Song is You)
5. "Night and Day"(1947, from The Best of the Columbia Years)
6."Night and Day"(1956, from A Swingin' Affair)

The evolution of a "Sinatra standard". The Dorsey version is sweet but rote, politely sung by a musical employee. The second version is a whole other story: with Axel Stordahl's orchestration, Frank practically turns this song into an epic, stretching each verse like toffee, testing the tolerance of a great tune for interpretation. The third, from the Capitol years, is piledriver Frank, with dynamics delineated by either a caress or a bare-knuckle slap with little in-between. Let the listener decide which they prefer.

7. "(I Got a Woman Crazy For me) She's Funny That Way"(1943)

The beginning of "Sinatrauma" and the bobby-soxer phenomenon. "I'm not much to look at, nothin' to see . . .", Frank would sing, and the shrieked denials would come from the crowd: "It ain't so, Frankie! We love ya!" (from Frank Sinatra: the V-Discs).

8. "If You Are But A Dream"(1944)

The first moment of Sinatra perfection. (from The Best of the Columbia Years)

9."Lost in the Stars"(1946)

This lovely and underrated song, from Kurt Weill's Broadway period, gives the rare singer who's up to its subtle demands - which Sinatra undeniably was, if only for this moment - the opportunity to express an emotion rare in popular song: blithe philosophical resignation. (from The Best of the Columbia Years)

10. "I'm A Fool To Want You"(1957)

The one that aches. It would be churlish to imply the divine intervention of Ava Gardner as the sole motivation behind this cri de couer. There was more of artist than reactant to Sinatra. (from Where are You?)

11. "I Get Along Without You Very Well"(1955)

Then again, maybe there was something to this whole Ava Gardner business. (from In The Wee Small Hours)

12. "Come Fly With Me"(1957)

Swinging, swaggering Frank, the way most will remember him. (from Come Fly With Me)

13."Strangers in the Night"(1966)

Frank, in excelsis. Really a pretty lousy song, leaden and childishly rhymed. Sinatra reductio ad absurdum. Do-be-do-be-do. (from Strangers in the Night)

14. "My Way" (1969, from My Way).
15."My Way" - Elvis Presley(1972, from Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite)
16."My Way" - Sid Vicious (1977, from The Great Rock 'n Roll Swindle)

The devolution of a "Sinatra standard". From the sublime to the ridiculous, sort of. Actually, a pretty logical progression.

17."Where or When" (1958) 

A fitting requiem: well-deserved rest with some dignity after it all. Say goodbye, Frank. (from Only the Lonely)

writing ©1998-2001 Rick McGinnis all rights reserved.

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