Wednesday, May 14, 2008

THE FIVE SONGS: NINTH INSTANCE. FRANK SINATRA DIED EXACTLY TEN YEARS AGO TODAY. Now, I've never really counted myself as a particular fan of Ol' Blue Eyes and I'm still not a raving Frankie-phile. However, I have come to enjoy his singing more and more over the years; particularly the suicidal, "Ava Gardner left me" stuff on his classic albums "IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS" and "ONLY THE LONELY". So it is in this spirit of inclusion that I decided to make the next installment of THE FIVE SONGS a list of my favourite Sinatra performances on platter. These are, in my opinion, five of the slambangingest, ring-a-ding-dingiest vocals Frankie ever committed to disc.
  1. PLEASE DON'T TAKE YOUR LOVE FROM ME (Henry Nemo) - My favourite Sinatra song, I think. Vulnerable Frankie pleading not to be dumped...crooning: "Would you take the wings from birds so that they can't fly?/Would you take the ocean's roar and leave just a sigh?/All this your heart won't let you do/This is what I beg of you/Please don't take your love from me." And of course, there's that killer line: "Tear a petal from a rose and the rose weeps, too."
  2. DANCING ON THE CEILING (Rodgers/Hart) - Useta be my favourite Sinatra song until I heard that one up there. Again an obsessive, lovesick Frankie from the very first LP record EVER: "IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS". That's right; this album was the very first 33 1/3rd long playing record. Here we have Frankie is practically certifiable and will surely be locked up in a rubber room before the week is out -- because he's laying awake in bed staring at the ceiling where all he can see is his love dancing. "She dances overhead/on the ceiling near my bed/in my sight/all through the night." You'd better have that looked at, Frankie. And of course, the greatest line in the song: "I love my ceiling more/since it is a dancing floor/just for my love." Ella Fitzgerald does a version of the song which is almost as good. But not quite.
  3. TIME AFTER TIME (Cahn/Styne) - the perfect match between a song and a singer. Old Blue Eyes debuted this in the movies way back in the 40's -- and he was singing it to JIMMY DURANTE of all people. But even then, the beauty of the song was arresting. Let's just hope Frankie and Jimmy didn't get arrested! "I only know/the passing years will show/you've kept my love so young, so new."
  4. YOUNG AT HEART (Leigh/Richards) - probably the most well-known of the standards here, there's just something about Ol' Blue Eyes crooning this song that gets me. Oh, and tellingly, this is the only non-ballad, non-suicidal, more "ring-a-ding-ding" song on this list. "And if you should survive to 105/look at all you'll derive out of being alive/and here is the best part/you'll have a head start/if you are among the very young at heart". The only version of this song that rivals Sinatra's is Wild Man Fischer's. Don't ask. But it is even BETTER!!!
  5. WHAT'S NEW? (Burke/Haggart) - This one's from one of those suicidal albums: FRANK SINATRA SINGS FOR ONLY THE LONELY. And it's appropriate because Frankie seems ready to take a header off the nearest Vegas casino. The story of the song find the singer encountering a former love after some time. Unfortunately, he's still kinda hooked on her. "What's new?/How did that romance come through?/We haven't met since then/Gee, but it's nice to see you again/What's new?/Probably I'm boring you/But seeing you is grand/And you were sweet to offer your hand./I understand. Adieu!/Pardon my asking what's new/Of course you couldn't know/I haven't changed, I still love you so." Oh come on, Frankie! Haven't you heard The Streets' "DRY YOUR EYES" yet???

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

But then, of course, there's THE COFFEE SONG.