"People who understand music hear sounds that no one else makes when Sinatra sings." - Walter Cronkite
"I'm not gonna mess with him, are you?" - Bono
The only CD set of standards you're likely to need. They could re-release this 3 CD set today with a title like "Sinatra Sings the Great American Songbook" and it would quickly go gold (again). This edition has wonderfully detailed liner notes in a 70 page booklet, complete with release dates and chart information for each track (and I love that mess):
It was a simple (but expensive) formula: get the best musicians to play fantastic arrangements of wonderfully crafted songs by composers like Porter, Gershwin, Cahn, etc. Then get Sinatra to sing them. Simply put: this stuff swings. Even the ballads. To be fair, the Capitol years were 1953-1961. I suppose compilations for the Reprise years and Columbia years should be on my wish list. Or maybe I'll just buy this or this.
Sinatra may be the only man who ever lived that could show up for breakfast at a greasy diner at 1 in the afternoon in a tuxedo and no one in the room would think there was anything unusual about it. Who's the biggest bigwig of them all?
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #126
Tracks: 75 tracks across 3 discs, totaling well over 3½ hours of music. I wouldn't even know where to start.
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Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I would often tell my music students, "I can teach you the technical aspects of playing your instrument, but if you want to learn about phrasing, go listen to Sinatra." I don't know if he intentionally worked on it or if it was a natural gift, but his sense of phrasing is unparalleled. Every time I subject myself to America's Got Idol Voice Factor (which I rarely do), I have to listen to Sinatra to get the bad taste out of my mouth. If Sinatra were ever at an American Idol audition and heard a girl sing "A-maaaayyyyyyyyy [deep breath] zeeeying grayyyy-ssss," he'd chuckle and tell her to bring him a drink. She'd bring it without wondering why she was doing it, he'd tip her $100, tell her to "hit the bricks, sweetheart" and that would be the best episode of AI ever (in outtake footage on TMZ, we'd see Frank backhand Randy Jackson for saying "pitchy").
When I was a teenager, my buddy Brett drove a mid-'70s Mercury Cougar with an 8-track player in the dash. He had a Sinatra 8 track and would play it, singing along with Frank at the top of his lungs with the windows rolled down. When his younger brother rode with us, they would both sing along. I was unfamiliar with this music then and was fascinated that these boys knew all the words. It sounded great; I was hooked and began to investigate what I'd always called "my dad's music." Then Linda Ronstadt released her Nelson Riddle trilogy and I was all in. I think I'll roll down my truck windows today and belt out a little Come Fly With Me on my way to work today.
Previously revisited for the blog:
Sinatra Sings Cole Porter (2003)
Sinatra at the Sands (1966)