Why I Love ... Sinatra
There is only one Frank Sinatra ... and his name is not Michael Buble or Harry Connick Jr!
Accept no substitutes, or covers by the likes of Sting, Bryan Ferry, Robbie Williams or Rod Stewart, because no-one swings like Sinatra, says staff writer Sue Wilkinson.
I have more than 70 Sinatra CDs and, despite some of them featuring the same songs, I do not lack anything to listen to during these lockdown times.
My first memory of listening to Sinatra is High Hopes - a daft number about an ant moving a rubber tree plant - playing on Junior Choice, BBC Radio 2 weekend children’s programme hosted by the late Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart.
Not his finest recording, perhaps, but he sings it with the attention to phrasing and strength of sincerity as he delivers I’ve Got You Under My Skin.
I would have been seven and my main source of music was the radio - we didn’t have a record player until I was 10 - and my taste came from my dad, who loves easy listening music, country and rock ’n’ roll.
My taste is not that eclectic - it is Sinatra, his Rat Pack buddies Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, Matt Monro - who Sinatra admired - Bobby Darin, Vic Damone, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Julie London.
I love Sinatra the most for all kinds of reasons, all seen through rose-tinted glasses.I know he was not the nicest of gentlemen - but he was a loyal and steadfast friend - through choice, not an alimony order he kept Ava Gardener in the style to which she was accustomed long after they were divorced.
He is sexy, cool, has charm and swagger. Check out The Best Is Yet to Come on YouTube! here
His range of songs is phenomenal, from the carefree Do You Want To Swing On A Star to heartbreaking One For My Baby, from reflective It Was A Very Good Year to celebratory New York, New York.
His albums embrace the Great American Songbook - numbers by Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen to name a few.He swings with Count Basie and Nelson Riddle, taking us into the sound of brass and In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning.
Sinatra got better with age - until the nadir of his career with ‘Duets With ...’ albums in which he allegedly phoned in his contributions. I have the albums, but I rarely play them.
However That’s Life is an example of a singer who has lived the lyrics.He is one of the few artists you can refer to just by his surname and everyone knows who you mean ... and will usually hum Strangers In The Night (dubby, dubby doo!) back at you. You can also say Chairman of the Board, Ol’ Blue Eyes or The Guv’nor. Everyone knows you mean Sinatra.
As well as a singer, whose phrasing and storytelling through song was unique, Sinatra was an accomplished actor,In musicals, of course, including Anchors Aweigh and On the Town - with Gene Kelly - Guys and Dolls, High Society and Robin and the Seven Hoods, of which Style with Dino and Bing is a highlight.
He was wonderful in drama Some Came Running with Shirley MacLaine and wartime epic romance From Here to Eternity. My favourite non-musical film of his is Von Ryan’s Express, where he is more than a match for Trevor Howard’s British prisoner of war.
I never got to see him in concert, so am grateful for YouTube. It is impossible to pick one favourite song - Nice ’n’ Easy is up there, as is Witchcraft, Violets For Your Furs and Taking A Chance On Love.
I love New York, New York and My Way. But the one played at my funeral will be I’m Gonna Live Till I Die!