Saturday, March 19, 2016

This is just a personal note, but I want to observe the fact that Frank Sinatra Jr. died on Wednesday. I was such a fan of his father and his music. Frank Sinatra has been called the greatest singer of all time. He was my favorite singer, and I just finished reading the autobiography of Willie Nelson, in which he said that Sinatra was his favorite singer. 

You know, of course, that Frank Sinatra was very close with JFK. They really bonded, and Sinatra was very instrumental in getting him elected President. Sinatra probably deserves as much credit for it as any other single person. But afterwards, Kennedy's advisers urged him to distance himself from Sinatra because of his Mafia ties, and he did. On a famous trip to California in 1962, JFK was supposed to stay with Sinatra at his home in Palm Springs, but at the last minute, he went and stayed with Bing Crosby instead, and Sinatra was devastated. It was the end of their friendship.  

This is really sad about Frank Sinatra Jr. because his career was soaring. It was never better. And it was what he always wanted.

Frank Sinatra Jr. was his father's last band leader, and he had some great band leaders. He conducted the Frank Sinatra Orchestra, and he did a great job. Unlike his father, he was technically trained in music. He had a college degree in music and advanced training beyond that. He really studied. And, he was an excellent conductor too. But, he always wanted to be recognized for singing, and he finally was. 

He sang the old standards that his father sang, including this one by Cole Porter called: I've Got You Under My Skin. I love this song. I love to hear it, and I love to sing it. But, there is an interesting thing about it: it only half belongs to Cole Porter. And, it was a very different song the way Cole Porter wrote it. It was actually written as a sad ballad that was almost operatic, but it was the great arranger Nelson Riddle who changed it completely, turning it into a very lively swing number for Frank Sinatra.

It reminds me of a similar situation with Ray Charles, in which he took a so-so song written by Hoagy Carmichael, Georgia on My Mind , which wasn't bad the way it was, but he, Ray Charles, turned it into an absolute masterpiece. Well, that's what Nelson Riddle did for Cole Porter's I've Got You Under My Skin.  

This version by Frank Sinatra Jr. from last year is, in my opinion, surprisingly good. He does a great job with it. Does it rise to the level of his father's? No. No way.  How many Frank Sinatra's do you think there were? There was one. Still, it isn't bad. And, the orchestra behind him is magnificent. 

So, have a listen to one of the great swing sounds of all time, the result of the commingling of three brillances: Cole Porter, Nelson Riddle, and Frank Sinatra, and very decently re-comprised here by his son, Frank Sinatra Jr., may he rest in peace.

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