Frank Sinatra at 100 Still Has Got The World On A String

imageWhen I think of romance and love, the first person that comes to mind is Frank Sinatra.  The backing brass and big band sound, accompanied by his smooth and calming voice that flows through the lyrics of classics such as Fly Me To The Moon, Love and Marriage, and I’ve Got The World On A String gives me chills.  These songs bring me into an image of a club in the 1940s as people dance cheek to cheek.  Sinatra is one of the best selling artists of all time.  He has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, and is considered one of the most popular and influential artists of the twentieth century.

He was more than a singer.  Sinatra was an actor, producer, director, and he created a vision and persona around all that he was as an artist.  A perfectionist, known for his impeccable dress sense.  Image and sound were important to him.  He always insisted on recording his band live during sessions so the sound was organic.  Being a singer that learned music by ear and never learned to read music, I think he needed the sound to be live because it was how he learned to sing and react to the instruments being played.

It is the year of Sinatra’s centennial as society celebrates a hundred years of his existence.  Even though he is gone, his legacy lives on through his music and movies.  In the film On The Town, a construction worker asks Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Jules Munshin “What can happen in one day?”  It isn’t important what can happen in a day, but those moments in a day that can change you as a person over a lifetime.  He did that with every word he sang.  What is interesting is the songs that Sinatra sang were never songs he wrote, but collaborations with various composers and lyricists – he was the one that made the songs famous; he was the one that made them classics.

Come Fly With Me, Witchcraft, and All The Way are iconic, and the epitome of sound that Sinatra stood for during the 1950s.  In 2016, the 1950s are starting to show back up in music like with Panic! At The Disco’s new album Death of A Bachelor.  It is full of trumpets, big drums, but a mix of rock n’ roll on tracks such as Crazy = Genius. Other artists like Michael Buble have that same old style, no matter how pop he tries to be.  Songs like Haven’t Met You Yet, You and I, and Everything remind me that heartbreak can be minded, dreams can still be a reality, and a smooth voice can give you hope.

Sinatra followed and idolized artists like Bing Crosby.  He wanted to work hard, and for everyone else to follow suit.  In 1945 & 1946 he sang on 160 radio shows, recorded thirty-six times, shot four films, and performed up to forty-five times a week singing up to a hundred songs daily.  He won eleven Grammys over his career.  He release one hit after another, but my favorite will always be Young At Heart.  Granted it isn’t one of his more popular songs, but the lyrics by Carolyn Leigh defines what it is like to get older and still feel that coloring or swinging in the park is great idea.  In the words of Frank –

“You can go to extremes with impossible schemes.
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams.
And life gets more exciting with each passing day.
And love is either in heart, or on it’s way.
Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart.”

Glenn Frey: A Tribute To The Band That Began My Music Obsession

When I was kid, my younger brother and I would be singing in the back seat of the car to whatever song was on the radio which usually consisted of Chicago, Queen, Styx, or the Eagles.  My brother and I were partial to the Eagles, more specifically the song “Heartache Tonight,” but we changed the words to “a party tonight.”  I remember my mother trying to correct us and you guessed it, we continued to ignore her and proceeded to sing the lyrics wrong.  Eagles, I sincerely apologize for our lack of consideration to your songwriting skills, but we felt we had a better version.  We were wrong.

Heartache Tonight was written by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bob Seger, and J.D. Souther.  The track is included on the Eagles’s album “The Long Run” and released as a single in 1979.  It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in November of that same year and the single sold one million copies.  In 1980, the band received a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group Vocal for the song that gave us the lyrics “Everybody wants to take a little chance, Make it come out right.”  Heartache Tonight will hold a special place in my life as it was a song that helped bond my younger brother and I as two goofy kids in the car who instead of fighting for once, we actually agreed on something.

As I got older, I developed a deeper appreciation for songs like “Life In The Fast Lane” more specifically the guitar riff that made that song.  To this day, I will sing that infamous guitar riff like it is apart of the words anytime it is playing (Thank you Joe Walsh).  Finally, I became partially to the song “Get Over It.”  No it is not because it was the first new song that was released when the Eagles got back together in 1994, but because my dad is obsessed with it and loved to play it anytime we were whining about something as a kid.  When I was younger, him playing that song was more annoying then anything else, but as I got older I realized it was hilarious.  Don Henley and Glenn Frey whoever put together the line:

“Complain about the present and blame it on the past
I’d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass”

I pretty much want to recite this line to everyone I encounter in the general population.  So, Mr. Henley, know that you are not the only person who is frustrated about people blaming their circumstances and problems on everyone else instead of looking in the mirror.

The Eagles were the band that began my music obsession as I pretty much stole all the Eagles CDs (among others) my parents had and kept them in my room.  There, I proceeded to keep them in my stereo once in high school, and ultimately copied them to my hard drive and iTunes library so I could play songs like “Life In The Fast Line,” “Get Over It,” and “Hotel California” during my daily workouts.  Hearing about Glenn Frey’s passing was devastating as I felt a music superman had left this crazy world a little quieter without his guitar strumming, music writing, and passion.  The world is a little darker without you, but thank you for the memories.