I can’t let today, 14 May, go by without penning and posting yet another Frank Sinatra tribute, a few words in recognition of this, the 17th anniversary of the great man’s passing.
14 May 1998, I remember exactly where I was when I learnt that he had passed away – opposite the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand, London. I was passing a newsstand and I saw the headline. I don’t think I was into Frank like I am today, like I have been for a number of years, but it did hit me, the passing of a legend. I have no doubt that if Frank had meant to me back then what he does now, I’d have cried big time.
A lot of us have our favourites, for some it’s The Beatles, for others it’s The Rolling Stones, some can’t see beyond Elvis and there are millions for whom Frank is The King. Don’t misunderstand me, for me, Elvis is magical and I really do ‘get’ The Beatles. I saw The Stones in 2014, they were outstanding and I was aware that I was witnessing something special but Frank is out on his own for me, he is my number one, my favourite. It’s a no brainer, Mr. Plomley, or can I call you Roy, I’d have all of Frank’s ‘Discs’ on my ‘Desert Island’.
My favourite Frank Sinatra song? There are so SO many songs, there have been so many great performances, that I can’t single out a favourite. I certainly understand why the late, great Johnny Carson famously said that his favourite song (not just by Frank but by anyone) was “Here’s That Rainy Day”, a staggeringly beautiful song by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Burke…if I had to quickly scribble down a list of great Sinatra songs, songs I love, “Here’s That Rainy Day” would be in the list (a great Gordon Jenkins arrangement).
Another one which makes me melt is “Autumn Leaves” (originally a French song, ‘Les Feuilles Mortes, the legend Johnny Mercer wrote the English lyrics), another Gordon Jenkins arrangement – what an introduction!
‘Dindi’ (pronounced Jin Jee), written by the brilliant Antonio Carlos ‘Tom’ Jobim about the singer, Sylvia Telles (who, tragically, died so young in a road accident just after she recorded the song), is sublime (it’s on one of my favourite albums of all time, 1967’s “Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim”).
There are so many others – ‘In The Wee Small Hours’, ‘From Here To Eternity’, ‘My Way’ (maybe my favourite…maybe)…the list goes on and on and on. Frank’s presence, his aura, his voice, his personality, his unique interpretation of the music, the orchestration, those arrangements, Gordon Jenkins, Nelson Riddle, Billy May, the man’s style…everything.
In a nutshell, I love Frank Sinatra.