A Centennial Remembrance
By Roger Hall
Francis Albert Sinatra
Born: Hoboken, New Jersey, December 12, 1915
Died: Los Angeles, California, May 14, 1998
Frank Sinatra remains unique, the master explicator
of the complexity and power of American popular
songs, the entertainer as shaman. He is both the founder
of his tradition and its principal heir.
-- Gary Giddens, Stereo Review, February 1984
Frank Sinatra belongs in that small select group of past
supreme song stylists,
like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday,
Nat King Cole, and his mentor, Bing Crosby.
Over a thousand recording were made by Sinatra over his long career from the 1940s onward and many of them are now available
in single or multi-disc collections.
I believe it was from the mid-1950s to mid-1960s
when Frank Sinatra made his finest recordings
for Capitol and Reprise Records
In 1990, for his 75th birthday,
I produced a radio tribute titled,
"Songs By Sinatra"
with the following play list:
1940s - Band Singer to Solo Singer
1. "I'll Never Smile Again" -Music & Lyrics: Ruth Lowe
with The Pied Pipers (May 23, 1940)
Sung by Frank Sinatra in LAS VEGAS NIGHTS (1941)
2. "Night and Day" - Cole Porter
Arranged by Alex Stordahl (January 19, 1942)
Sung in film: REVEILLE WITH BEVERLY (1943
1950s - The Capitol Decade
3. "I've Got You Under My Skin" (Cole Porter) -
Arranged by Nelson Riddle
Recorded: January 12, 1956
"Well Did You Evah" (Cole Porter) -
Arranged by Skip Martin
Recorded May 7, 1956
with Bing Crosby in the musical, HIGH SOCIETY
5. "All the Way" (Lyrics: Sammy Cahn/Music: James van Heusen)
Recorded August 13, 1957 - Arranged by Nelson Riddle
Academy Award for Best Original Movie Song in THE JOKER IS WILD
1960s - The Reprise Years
6. "It Was A Very Good Year" (Music & Lyrics: Ervin Drake)
Recorded April 22, 1965 - Arranged by Gordon Jenkins
Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance
7. "My Way" (Music & Lyrics: C. Francois and J. Reveau/
English Lyrics: Paul Anka)
Recorded December 30, 1968 - Arranged by Don Costa
Later in the 1990s, I played lots of
Sinatra recordings on my radio show,
featuring music from the 1930s to 1950s,
and the program titled from
the popular Glenn Miller recording,
"IN THE MOOD"
Here are ten albums highlighting
early to peak years of recordings...
From the beginning...
Harry James and His Orchestra featuring Frank Sinatra
Complete 1939 recordings
The Essential Frank Sinatra with
The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
To the 1950s...
The Best of Frank Sinatra - The Capitol Years
Selections taken from The Capitol Years box set, including many of Sinatra's hits from the 1950s, including the song generally considered his greatest recording,"I've Got You Under My Skin" (1956), by one of his greatest arrangers, Nelson Riddle.
A marvelous collection of 20 tracks recorded between 1953 and 1960, including "I've Got The World On A String"; "My Funny Valentine";
"In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning";
"Witchcraft"; and "Nice N' Easy."
The arrangements are by Nelson Riddle and Billy May.
Here are what many Sinatra fans think are
the two greatest Sinatra albums for Capitol Records:
In The Wee Small Hours
First released in 1954, this was the first Capitol album with Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle and the first "concept album" with only ballads included.
only the lonely
Released four years after In The Wee Small Hours, this may be the greatest album of lonely ballads ever released. Though it is filled with what Sinatra called "suicide songs," this is one of the greatest pop albums of the 1950s or any decade. Nelson Riddle's arrangements are beyond belief in their clarity and beauty.
This album has Sinatra's greatest ballad performances on record, such as the Cahn-Heusen melancholy classics, "only the lonely" and "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry."
This is a masterpiece of popular singing and arranging.
As much as fans focus on the up tempo ring-a-ding songs of the Rat Pack years,
it was the slow ballads
that best illustrated
Sinatra's sensitivty to music and lyrics.
Both albums ( In The Wee Small Hours and Only the Lonely )
are milestones in pop music history.
Then to the 1960s...
The highest charting Sinatra album - 9 weeks at No. 1:
Nice 'n' Easy
Here is a wonderful musical remembrance courtesy
of the singer himself selecting his song favorites:
A collection with familiar and some lesser known songs
sung when Sinatra was at his peak, including the beautiful song,
"Stay With Me" (Carolyn Leigh-Jerome Moross)
the film, THE CARDINAL:
This classic album, a Grammy Award winner as Best Album of the Year,
is one of
Sinatra's best albums from the 1960s,
released in 1965 when he
September of My Years
He has received many titles, like "The Voice," "Ol' Blue Eyes,"
and "Chairman of the Board." But more important,
Frank Sinatra was
a supreme master of matching lyrics to music,
sung with great skill and grace.
To put it briefly, he will always remain...
-- Tribute by Roger Hall
Your Favorite Sinatra Albums
If you wish to send in some of your favorite Sinatra albums,
or your general comments about this tribute,
"All The Way" - Frank Sinatra in Hollywood
"It's Magic" - A One Hundredth Birthday Celebration of Sammy Cahn
A festive celebration featuring an ensemble of marvelous cabaret singers paying tribute to the songs by Sammy Cahn (1913-1993), the only songwriter from the past to receive four Oscars and an Emmy for his lyrics, all of the songs originally recorded by Frank Sinatra. This most enjoyable CD was made possible by a grant from American Music Recording Archive (AMRA).
A fan letter sent to Sammy Cahn:
I will always be indebted to you for the words you put in my mouth and all those you have favored me with...I have learned much from you about the proper use of our language, and for that I thank youse
- Love ya, Francis Albert [Sinatra]
"High Hopes" A Memorial Tribute to Sammy Cahn
features a selection of Oscar-winning music on WGBH-FM public radio in Boston. Also Sammy Cahn speaking about one of his Oscar-winning songs. Produced by film music critic and founder of the Sammy Film Music Awards, Roger Hall.
Recommended New Publications
This is a raw and riveting account of Sinatra's turbulent life and career
from the year 1954 onward:
SINATRA - The Chairman by James Kaplan
Celebrating the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra is this well organized magazine format tribute publication titled, SINATRA from i-5 publishing which is well organized and well written, especually
the first article, "The Voices of Frank Sinatra" by Mike Daley.
Film Music Review