From Las Vegas to New Hope, Pennsylvania, fans are toasting Old Blue Eyes at black-tie dinner parties with Rat Pack entertainment. Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio is going wall-to-wall Frank. He is the star of the month on Turner Classic Movies.
Why do people continue to celebrate this man? Begin with his musical genius. As long as melody and harmony are valued, people will listen to, and dance to, and make love to the sounds of Sinatra.
The first of his nicknames was "The Voice." The young man's voice was incomparable in its power, timbre, range and agility. There are the songs he sang in the 1940s as the boy singer in the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey bands and when he went on his own and wowed the girls who rioted at the Paramount in New York City for a chance to hear Frankie. And there are the songs he sang in the 1950s when the voice deepened and he began to epitomize a grown-up masculine ideal.
In the first category the songs include "All or Nothing at All," "I'll Never Smile Again," "Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night in the Week," "Time After Time." In the second category: "You Make Me Feel So Young," "I've Got You under My Skin," "Witchcraft," "All the Way."
In the 1960s, the third decade of his dominance, Sinatra took swing to new heights with Count Basie ("Fly Me to the Moon"), dabbled in the Bossa Nova ("The Girl from Ipanema"), and made great songs sound like chapters in his own autobiography ("It Was a Very Good Year").
More often than not, it is Sinatra's version of a song that is definitive. He recognized that the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Jimmy Van Heusen and many others had created classic American popular songs. By recording them, Sinatra renewed the life of great music.
Originally posted 12/12/15. Written for CNN. Reposted on the occasion of the paperback edition of "Sinatra's Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World."