Wednesday, October 07, 2015

"A Man Alone": How Great was Sinatra? So Great that with a Voice that was Way Past Its Prime, and Less than Stellar Material, He was Still the World’s Greatest Singer—that’s How Great He was!

By Nicholas Stix

The late Ed Bradley, of 60 Minutes, was a great jazz aficionado. He once quoted Frank Sinatra’s judgment that Ray Charles was a “genius,” I believe in an interview with Charles. Bradley took Sinatra’s statement at face value, as if Sinatra were saying that Charles was his better. Rather, Sinatra was sitting on his throne on music’s Mount Olympus, and being charitable to a mere mortal.

You wouldn’t know it, to look at the death and depravity I typically wallow in, but I’m in the excellence business. Movies, music, acting, writing, talk. From circa 1920-1960, America saw a creative explosion rarely matched in the history of the world. Ancient Athens, sure. Renaissance Italy, maybe. The greatest art forms of the time were pictures and music. The greatest singer? A rhetorical question.

Previously in this series, I have re-posted Sinatra performances singing the greatest songs in the English language, in many cases when he was at his peak vocally. The Man Alone album has neither strength to offer. Sinatra was in his fifties, and while the material Rod McKuen had written for him was good, and Don Costa’s arrangements excellent, this wasn’t Kern & Hammerstein, or the young, or even forty-year-old Sinatra. The famous Sinatra phrasing had to slow down the game, and reach back for more depth, if not more velocity.

And yet, when Dwight Gooden was with the Mets, and had the best stuff in baseball, he didn’t throw a no-hitter. It was only when he was washed up, with the Yankees, that he finally threw the no-no. This bravura performance by a diminished Sinatra, who’d long ago lost his fastball, playing minor league music, is the musical equivalent of that no-hitter by an over-the-hill Gooden.

A Man Alone
Words & Music by Rod McKuen

In me you see…
A man… alone,
Stuck by the habit,
Of being on his own.

A man who listens…
To the trembling of the trees,
With sentimental ease.

In me you see…
A man… alone,
Behind the wall
He’s learned to call his home,

A man who still goes…
Walking in the rain,
Expecting love again.

A man not lonely,
Except when the dark comes on,
A man learning to live with,
Memories of midnights,
That fell apart at dawn.

In me you see…
A man alone,
Drinking up Sundays,
And spending them alone.

A man who knows love
Is seldom what it seems,
Only other people’s dreams.


A man learning to live with,
Memories of midnights,
That fell apart at dawn.

In me you see…
A man alone,
Drinking up Sundays,
And spending them alone.

A man who knows…
Love is seldom what it seems,
Just other people’s dreams.

Uploaded on September 24, 2010 by Stefan Basic.

[Previously, in this series:

“Frank Sinatra: My Shining Hour (Video, from Trilogy: Past Present Future)”;

“Hear Frank Sinatra Sing Arlen & Mercer’s Come Rain or Shine”;

“Hear Frank Sinatra Sing the Quintessential Version of Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer’s ‘One for My Baby (and One More, for the Road)’”;

“Hear Frank Sinatra Sing the Classic Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer Torch Song, ‘Blues in the Night’”;

“Frank Sinatra: Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s Stormy Weather (Video)”;

“Frank Sinatra Live! Medley of The Gal That Got Away and It Never Entered My Mind, Performed in 1980 at Carnegie Hall (Great Quality Video of a Grand Performance!)”;

“Frank Sinatra: Here's That Rainy Day (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke)”;

“Frank Sinatra’s Revelatory, 1962 Performance of Kern and Fields’ The Way You Look Tonight”;

“Paul Robeson?! Hear Frank Sinatra Give the Definitive Interpretation of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Ol’ Man River (1963)”;

“The Greatest Song Ever Written? Hear Frank Sinatra Sing Rodgers & Hammerstein's Soliloquy”;

“Hear Frank Sinatra Sing the Real ‘New York, New York,’ by Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green, from On the Town (1944/1949)”;

“The Swingingest Record You’ll Ever Hear! Fly Me to the Moon, by Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, and Quincy Jones”;
“Frank Sinatra: Autumn in New York, with the Billy May Orchestra (Video)”;

“Hear Frank Sinatra Make Rodgers & Hart Swing! ‘The Lady is a Tramp’; Live at Madison Square Garden/1974”;

“Hear Frank Sinatra and a Bunch of Little Kids Sing the 1960 Academy Award-Winning Song, ‘High Hopes’”;
“If Frank Sinatra were Still Alive, and were Interviewed by Larry King”;

“When Sinatra Ruled: Hear Him Sing ANOTHER Oscar-Winning Song, ‘All the Way,’ from The Joker is Wild (1957)”;

“Hear Frank Sinatra Sing Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn’s ‘Love and Marriage’;

“Hear Frank Sinatra’s Unique Presentation of Cole Porter’s ‘I've Got You Under My Skin’”; and

“Frank Sinatra Sings ‘Young at Heart.’”]

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