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Frank, Pt. 1

May 24, 2008

Frank Sinatra died ten years ago this month, as unimaginable as that seems. I remember when I heard the news. I was still living with my ex-fiance at the time, and he was big on tv news in the morning, so that day, May 14th, he’d wandered downstairs and flipped on The Today Show as usual. I came down to get a cup of coffee and saw him standing there in shock with his toothbrush in his hand. Then, when I saw tributes of flowers on the Walk of Fame on the screen and asked him who died, he could barely get it out. (Anth was from a large Italian family. I trust I don’t have to explain his reaction.) I liked Frank Sinatra, and I kind of was beginning to think he’d live forever, so I was very sad.

In the intervening decade, I’ve gotten more and more familiar with his work; with every song and every movie of his that I’ve come to know, my respect, appreciation, and – I’ll admit it – hero worship, have grown.

This Memorial Day weekend, my Saturday, Sunday and Monday posts will be in memory of Frank. Since I don’t know anything about music, and can’t write with any intelligence about his technique, his ability, etc., I’ll keep these entries simple and just try to show why I love the guy.

In this post, I’ll share a few of my favorite songs from one of his best albums (true, it’s a large pool to pick from), 1957’s Come Fly With Me, and a few other versions of the same songs.

Frank Sinatra – Come Fly With Me
I could absolutely use some exotic booze, as a matter of fact.

Michael Buble’ – Come Fly With Me
I’ve mentioned before that I like the crispness & brightness of this one.

Frank Sinatra – I Love Paris
Crazy romantic and catchy. Listen to it twice and you’ll sing it all day long. Interestingly, it’s only 1:51 long; its only potential flaw is that about the time it really gets going, it’s over.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – I Love Paris
I can’t wait to hear the reactions to this one. It’s indescribable. He um, really throws himself into this. There’s this spoken word bit toward the end that’s totally what we’d call insensitive today, and totally hilarious. I laugh every time he says “I saw Mau Mau kissing Santa Claus.”

Frank Sinatra – Autumn in New York
His version is so rich vocally that even if you only focus on his phrasing and enunciation, you can still be swept away.

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Autumn in New York
I do love this one, and I admit that part of it is the distinct sound, in the first verse, of a Zippo clicking open. If that’s not what it is, don’t tell me. There is something very intimate and quiet about their version, and that sound really lends something to that. It’s as if they’re staying up late together, singing and lighting each other cigarettes.

Harry Connick, Jr. – Autumn in New York
As much as I love Harry and that voice of his, I have to say that if I were following those two acts above, I believe I’d make mine an instrumental too.

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