Today is the centennial of the birth of Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) the American singer and actor whose phenomenal career spanned sixty years ending in 1995. During his career he produced a discography spanning the eras of jazz, swing, big band, and pop music. I had the good fortune to attend two Sinatra concerts during the '60's. Both were unforgettable opportunities to see this American icon at work as a storm of rock music swept the nation and displaced the popular song as the dominant music genre in our culture.
|Frank Sinatra from the trailer of the film, Pal Joey, 1957|
It's been twenty years since Sinatra walked on stage but his persona is still with us. Writing at nationalreview.com, Deroy Murdock begins his exploration of the life, times, and legacy of "Ol' Blue Eyes" with this:
Saturday completes a century since Francis Albert Sinatra belted out his first note as a newborn, 13-and-a-half-pound baby in Hoboken, N.J. He grew up to become the finest male vocalist of the 20th Century, alongside his female counterpart and occasional partner in rhyme, Ella Fitzgerald.
But Frank was much more than just a crooner. He excelled as an actor, dancer, TV host, entrepreneur, record-company executive, and even music conductor. His timeless fashion sense defined style and elegance for gentlemen from the 1940s until today. He left enormous footprints on popular culture and was as original an American as this nation has produced.
After 100 years, a hundred superlatives barely could do Sinatra justice. Rather than wade through the many adjectives that define the man, the best way to appreciate Sinatra and his gigantic contribution is to savor his artistry and epic life story.
What follows is a rich overview of the man in sight and sound. It's not to be missed.
If you read Murdock's article you may want to scroll down to an earlier post by him on a Sinatra exhibit in New York as well as a another tribute, this one by George Will.
For those who simply want to enjoy Sinatra at his best I offer two personal favorites:
Summer Wind (1965), music by Heinz Meyer, words by Johnny Mercer
One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) (1943), music by Harold Arlen, words by Johnny Mercer,
The man had a way with a song quite unlike that of any other singer in the 20th century.
Columbia Pictures Corporation, public domain photograph in the United States