Hey, Dave, remember the time we went to the cocktail party at MOMA and ran into -- well, you know. "That's Life"! Happy birthday, buddy. Love, Frank.
Hey, Dave, remember the time we went to the cocktail party at MOMA and ran into -- well, you know. "That's Life"! Happy birthday, buddy. Love, Frank.
Sinatra, snapping out of a haze,
noticed me sitting across from him
“Who the fuck are you?”
Just another fan, I said, on the day he died
I made anagrams out of his name
satin, sin, stain, stair, train, rain, star
and figured out my last message
I mean what I would say to him now
“your goodbye left me with eyes that cry”
on the other hand you left me the history
of your voice the record of the American century
from Roosevelt to Reagan you will live on
whenever I need to hear you (it has to be you)
sing “I Get Along Without You Very Well”
(Strand’s favorite) or “I’m a Fool to Want You”
(my choice) when your lover has gone
-- 5 / 15 / 98
In August 1914 Jerome Kern wrote a song to interpolate in a Broadway musical imported from Britain. The song is "They Didn't Believe Me." It is the first modern ballad, just as Irving Berlin's "Alexander's Ragtime Band" is the first of the uptempo classic American popular songs. Sinatra never recorded "They Didn't Believe Me" but someone taped his live performance of it, in the late 1940s, crooner style, screaming bobbysoxers and all. Here 'tis. The repetition of the last clause is Sinatra's innovation. You might also check out Johnny Mercer's swinging cover of the same wonderful song.
While Sonny is driving alone in his car, he's listening to the October 3,1951 radio broadcast of Russ Hodges calling the decisive third game of the Dodgers-Giants playoff -- a half-inning before Bobby Thomson ended the Dodgers' season with the "Shot Heard 'Round the World, which many consider the national pastime's all-time greatest moment.
Of the main cast, four pairs of actors share a birthday: Al Pacino and Talia Shire (April 25), Diane Keaton and Robert Duvall (January 5), James Caan and Sterling Hayden (March 26), and Abe Vigoda and Al Lettieri (February 24).
Whether it is, as many of us think, one of the two or three greatest of all movies, The Godfather is certainly a script that the certified US male of a certain class knows much of by heart. For more exquisite Godfather trivia (Jews play Sonny and Tessio, an Italian plays the Jewish Moe Greene) go here.
It snowed overnight. . . but we've got brand new snow tires and Mr Sinatra to croon the words by Sammy Cahn, the music by Jule Styne.
When you watch the film version of Guys and Dolls, you sometimes get the feeling that Nathan Detroit and Adelaide (Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine) are in one movie, a hoot, while Sky Masterson and Sister Sarah of the Salvation Army (Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons) occupy an alternative universe, much more serious and deep and dramatic.
Sinatra and Brando were rivals. Brando, who did not have the better voice, got the best songs. Frank Loesser did write a serenade for Frankie boy to sing to Adelaide, but the lad must have eaten his heart out to hear Brando's thin nasal rendition of "Luck Be a Lady Tonight."
Brando on Sinatra in heaven: "That guy is going to give God an earful for making him go bald."
Sinatra on Brando, whom he called "Mumbles": "I hear they're making a movie of the Bible. They wanted Mumbles to play God but he held out for a better part."
Audience participation portion: do you like the way Brando dances in the Cuba scene? Do you miss the songs dropped from the stage version -- such as "A Bushel and a Peck," "I've Never Been in Love Before," and "Marry the Man Today"? What do you think of "Your eyes are the eyes of a woman in love"? What's the best song in the show? Why do I think "G & D" is the consummate Broadway musical? Do you agree? -- DL
Many a time I have gone to the movies and felt that the song over the closing credits is the best thing about the film. Sinatra's "New York, New York" trumps everything that comes before it in "Summer of Sam," as does the same singer's "Its Nice to Go Traveling" at the end of "Executive Decision" and Vaughn Monroe's "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" at the end of "Die Hard." I thought of this phenomenon tonight watching the end of "Eight Men Out" (1988) about the Black Sox scandal of 1919. When the closing credits come on, you hear a fanstastic cover of "After You've Gone" by Leigh Harris. She gives us three refrains from the immortal song, lyrics by Henry Creamer, music by J. Turner Layton -- but only after she delivers the verse. You usually don't hear the verse. Lyrically it's OK and musically it leaves us, at its end, exactly where we need to be. After you've gone and left me crying, / After you've gone there's no denying, / You'll feel blue, you'll feel sad / You'll miss the bestest pal you ever had. / There'll come a time, now don't forget it, / there'll come a time when you'll reget it, / someday when you grow lonely, / your heart will break like mine, you'll want me only, / after you've gone, after you've gone away." What a pleasure just to write it out. You should hear Judy Garland do it in Carnegie Hall 1961. You should hear Al Jolson do it. But don't overlook Ms. Leigh Harris, a new name to me, but a hell of a singer. -- DL
92Y’S LYRICS & LYRICISTS™ Presents
“The Crowd's at El Morocco: The Heyday of the New York Nightclubs”
JULIE WILSON to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cole Porter Family
DEBORAH GRACE WINER, Artistic Director, Writer & Host
JOHN ODDO, Music Director & Piano
MARK WALDROP, Stage Director
DEBBY BOONE, vocals
LA TANYA HALL, vocals
JAMES NAUGHTON, vocals
BILLY STRITCH, vocals
KAREN ZIEMBA, vocals
Sat, April 30 / 8 pm / $62 & $52
Sun, May 1 / 2 pm / $67 & $55
Sun, May 1 / 7 pm / $62 & $52
Mon, May 2 / 2 pm / $62 & $52
Mon, May 2 / 8 pm / $67 & $55
Under-35 ticket price of $25 available for Saturday and Sunday evening shows
New York, NY: April 15, 2011 – Once upon a time, right here in New York City, storied clubs – swanky hotel supper clubs, zebra-striped celebrity showcases, smoky after-hour boîtes – ruled the night. Places like The Stork Club, Copacabana, Persian Room and Latin Quarter (run by Lou Walters, father of Barbara ) were meccas where songwriters, singers and society mingled and fueled American popular music. Author and Lyrics & Lyricists™ series artistic director Deborah Grace Winer takes the helm as artistic director/writer/host for The Crowd’s at El Morocco: The Heyday of the New York Nightclubs, on April 30 and May 1, 2. Joining her are vocalists Debby Boone, La Tanya Hall, James Naughton, Billy Stritch and Karen Ziemba.
The default on my satellite radio is 73, "Seriously Sinatra," which is almost always great, not least because you get to hear guest disc jockeys like Steve Lawrence talk about singing, maybe sing a few bars and tell an anecdote. There was the time Steve was sitting alone and Dean Martin walked in and said "Hello Steve and Eydie."
This afternoon we're listening to the singer Julius La Rosa, who was once famous for quitting (or being fired from) Arthur Godfrey's morning TV show. He was the show's singer, and a damned good one, but he had the nerve to ask for a raise. Godfrey said he "lacked humility." At least that's how I remember it, but I was maybe ten years old at that time, so I'm not ceertain I have all the details right.
Brooklyn boy "Julie" La Rosa is playing Sinatra's definitive "One for My Baby" to illustrate how Sinatra "acted the song." This is an insight one has heard before, but now La Rosa is advancing the thesis that Sinatra "improved" Cole Porter, To do so, La Rosa relies on his reliable baritone to demonstrate the rhythmical difference between what the "melodically magnificent" Porter wrote and Sinatra's swinging rendition of the first line of "I've Got You Under My Skin." The melody is indeed marvelous, but Porter's equally marvelous lyric requires a different rhythm -- the behind-the-beat finger-snapping swing that Sinatra perfected. Now La Rosa is playing the Sinatra cover. I shall pause for three minutes and forty three seconds to listen. Sublime.
Now La Rosa is doing the same thing with "It Was Just One of Those Things." And now "I Get a Kick Out of You." He sings the opening bars as written and then he sings the same in the Sinatra manner to show that Sinatra discovered the song within the song -- the rhythmical delivery without which Porter's music and words would be incomplete. How often have I listened to Sinatra's take on Porter in such Nelson Riddle-arranged records as "Songs for Swinging Lovers" and "Songs for Young Lovers / Swing Easy." But LaRosa has come up with the best radio intro to this trio of Porter tunes that I have ever heard. DL
Whitey Lockman stepped into the batter's box. Ball one. Campanella called time and went out to the mound to calm Newcombe down.
"My advice to you," Sinatra said, "is to live each day of your life as if it's your last. Because one day it will be."
Bishop led the laughter.
from The Gleason Chronicles
Is life what it seems to be? If it is, it is a variegated mold on the surface of the third planet from the sun. It can be described as an understandable thing. But in reality, as lived, life functions according to all sorts of emotion and irrationalism. The world is, on the one hand, a place. It is a laboratory. A laboratory is a room where you can control outside influences.
The world is where everything happens all the time, all on top of each other, spraying influences like a Gatling gun. Still, the world and the lab are both places. Things happen that can be measured and described such that someone at another time could make use of it, repeat experiments, make predictions, add subtleties. By definition, the world is more complicated than the lab.
We run into the lab with any interaction we can think of that we might be able to isolate and test. Usually we can’t think of any way to pull out of the chaos one specific, reliable influence, the one thing that makes something happen. For example, we don’t know why the rate of breast cancer is so high in the US. When we first noticed it, decades ago, we wondered if it was genetic, a result of the biology of our common ancestry. So we looked to see if today’ populations of women who immigrate here from lower-breast cancer rate countries continue to enjoy low rates. Turned out they very quickly start getting more breast cancer.
So not genetics. What then? At first we guessed diet, settled on a variety of fruits and vegetables over the years, broccoli, cauliflower, blueberries; meanwhile large, long-term, studies were conducted to prove the link. The studies, instead, found no link at all. No ratio of greens to beef helped anybody’s odds.
So what’s causing all the cancer? Now we’re thinking it might be a kind of chemical contamination, maybe from fire retardants in furniture, or maybe from plastic food containers, or maybe even what they spray on vegetables to poison insects. Could turn out eating all those vegetables wasn’t such a good idea.
Anyway, the point is that we don’t know what to guess, it could be anything. When science presents a relationship to the public -- this causes that -- it seems like the tough part was measuring reality, but the toughest part comes first. It is the choice to be concerned with a particular influence that might be making some phenomenon happen. Once you choose which thing you’re going to study, you have made the biggest decision you will make. A writer’s greatest act of editing is in plucking one subject out of the busy universe and placing it on the slab.
Would you like to come up to my lab and see what’s on the slab? I see you shiver with an tissa pation. That’s from a song. My age cohorts may chortle. I don’t know how many times I saw the Rocky Horror Picture show when I was a teenager because I saw it so much that I wanted to have a ticket stub from each show, but I didn’t start saving stubs with the first show and then to compensate for that I’d sometimes pick up ripped tickets found at the theater and add them to my collection. Really screws up the ability to keep track.
So let’s just say I saw it a remarkably large number of times. It was a theater on Long Island, and back in the day, as they say, you could smoke pot and cigarettes in this theater and no one bothered us at all, and kids sold marijuana cigarettes to each other on line, buck a piece. It was a place to go.
Anywho, as you can clearly see, the mind wanders and strange things influence our attempts to keep records. Life is not very lab-y. The importance of choosing would stop me dead if I tried choosing so instead I just unchoose almost everything and do whatever is still there, after I’ve rejected everything else, whatever’s still sitting on my desk and looking up at me like a baby that needs to be burped. Just before I reject the last thing, I say, this is mine, this is what I want. Grab it up in my arms and pat its back.
Poetry is the lab of labs. In the lab you control-out chaos and describe details of the world. Poetry is the roving lab-eye that speaks for the whole world, that takes the measure of the buzzing thrum of the world. We cast in all directions at once and take a plaster cast of the chaos and hum that is fact, feeling, and unfolding phenomena, all at once, all the time.
Do you love the word overdetermined? It means more causes than necessary caused this outcome. Why is Sue so angry, here in this dilapidated situation? Overdetermined. What do your dreams of being lost and frantic, night after night mean? Overdetermined. We actually got the word from Althusser who lifted it from Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams.
Life is an interpretation of dreams. Newton actually has instruction on how to do science in the preface to his work on the Laws of Motion, and one of the laws of science is that you have to find a sufficient specific cause for something, you can’t say it rained because the clouds were heavy with moisture, and because I prayed for it to, and because it always rains when my aunt hangs out laundry. One effect, one cause.
Out here in reality, in the universe, everything is over and over and over in a fog of repetitions and ricochets, bumper cars, pinball games, disco balls, and dazzling refraction, over and over determined. I try to take measure. I go very quiet and listen to wherever my mind goes, following. I do not triumph, but I bumble.
The poet, then, is the buzzing bee, exuding honey? In a hive built in the ribcage of a lion killed by Samson, before he was betrayed by love and blinded, and got his strange revenge? Yes, friends, that very honey.
ps. David Lehman and Stacy Harwood, who run this site, are Sinatra fans and Sinatra was born and grew up in Hoboken NJ, where my husband John also grew up and so this weekend the four of us went to Hoboken and John took us on a Sinatra tour. It was fabulous. David and Stacey, we meant to send you home with the Cake Boss cannoli and biscotti. But rest easy they went to waist not waste.
An Australian cameraman at whom she threw a glass of champagne marveled. "She was so bloody gorgeous." That is what he was thinking when the glass and its contents went flying at him. That was Ava Gardner. Like a hurricane but beautiful, glamorous yet down to earth -- she could swear like a sailor; had a terrible temper; gravitated naturally to macho men, matadors, crooners, big-band leaders, big-game hunting American writers on safari. She was 5'6, a brunette with killer looks and a nice voice. They dubbed her in the movie "Showboat" but it's her voice you hear on the soundtrack. They should not have dubbed her. It sounds phony. Her voice full of tequila cocktails was just right for Julie's showstopper, "Bill." Her eyebrows and mouth rival Vivien Leigh's; her eyes give Liz Taylor's a run for the money. On the sexuality scale, she ranks right up there with Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and Kim Novak. She posed for Man Ray ("absolutely ravishing"). A sculptor got her to step out of her little two-piece, one piece at a time. He did inspired work. But they didn't use the statue. Damn it, it has tits, the executive roared.
Ava commanded an unusual loyalty. Among her ex-husbands, Frank Sinatra was really hooked. He had a statue of her in his backyard until his fourth wife (Barbara Marx) made him remove it. But was it the same one? When she fell ill in 1989, Frankie paid all the bills. He called her "Angel." But he didn't attend the funeral when she died in January 1990. Neither did the two other ex-husbands, Mickey Rooney, a major Hollywood star when she was nineteen and breaking in, and clarinetist heartthrob Artie Shaw, who ruined her self-esteem by reminding her how uneducated she was. Artie made her read Dostoyevski, Mann, and Flaubert. He even took Darwin along on their honeymoon. Darwin's great-grandson deemed her to be "the highest specimen of the human species." But Artie thought she was a dummy, and she was desperately in love with Artie. "I don't think he ever really understood the damage he did," Ava wrote about Artie Shaw. Mickey Rooney remembered that sex with her had been great. She demurred: "Not for me," she said. Of her third husband, Frank Sinatra, Ava once said. "Frank weighs 120 pounds but ten of them are pure cock."
Surprisingly, there is more North than South in her natal chart -- 56.4% to 43.6% -- a proportion that beautifully mirrors the popular vote after certain landmark US elections. Her chart conjures a type of individual who externalizes her emotions rather than bottling them up. In a certain mood, she is more likely to fight, curse, slap, and shout than to act quietly bitchy. She is not introspective. As the actress herself once said, "deep down I'm pretty superficial." The predominance of water signs in her chart suggests a state of constant motion, change, and periodic upheaval. Can anyone be surprised that the proportion of yin to yang in Ms. Gardner's chart is more than three to one, 76.3% to 23.7%?
Planetary: The predominance of the moon, Mars, and Saturn in Ms. Gardner's chart indicate that she can be saturnine, martial, and lunar, though not all at the same time. The dominant signs in the chart are Capricorn (her birth sign, which also houses her Mercury), Cancer (her rising sign, and her Pluto), and Pisces (the moon, Mars, Uranus). Much depends on your interpretation of Ava's eighth house -- the house of transformation and the house of sex -- which in her case is particularly complex. The strong currents of the water signs in her chart suggest an unremitting flow of sexual energy. The fact that both her Venus and her Jupiter reside in Scorpio give you an idea of the unpredictable nature of her temper and moods. Such a woman. when endowed with a beautiful face and body, is guaranteed to have a bewitching hold on men -- whether the strong, silent, sincere type, the mercurial genius, or the vain prince.
Let me just put it this way: she shares a birthday with Elvis Presley. She is the same height as Catherine Deneuve (5'6).In Chinese astrology, she is a water dog. When Sinatra sings "I'm a Fool to Want You," he's thinking of Ava. She taught him heartbreak and the dark side of passion -- and that was just one of the gifts she bestowed on him during their tempestuous marriage. It is said that Sinatra got his career-reviving role in From Here to Eternity (1953) not from the machinations of a mafioso (as The Godfather would have it) but because Ava, then as big a box office star as there was, weighed in with Harry Cohen of Columbia Pictures.
My father, Frank Sinatra, and singers like Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby and Perry Como fought for years for performance royalties from radio stations, arguing it was unfair that performers are not paid and citing cases like Helen Forrest that show the harsh side of this injustice.
was one of the most gifted singers of the 1940s. Known as the “Voice of
the Name Bands,” she had hits like “I Cried for You” and “I Had the
Craziest Dream.” Sadly, Helen spent her last years practically
destitute because she received nothing when her songs were played on
from "Radio Free America" by Nancy Sinatra: New York Times, August 3, 2009
If you don't know Helen Forrest's voice and you like jazz standards in the forties manner, I suggest you rectify this omission immediately, listening to the songs Nancy named plus such others as "All the Things You Are," "I've Heard That Song Before," and "Too Marvelous for Words." Helen Forrest was born Helen Fogel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1917. As a young woman, she sang on the radio under the name Bonnie Blue, but her big break came when Artie Shaw recruited her for his band in 1938. She later sang for the Benny Goodman and Harry James bands, and she was a regular on Dick Haymes's radio show. She had a very pure voice. Until I read Nancy Sinatra's op-ed column, I hadn't realized that Helen Forrest had fallen on hard times. She died at 82 in 1999.
Stacey and I walked down Sixth Avenue in the sunlight feeling good. At Housing Works, one of the great thrift stores de nos jours, I paid $25 for a beautiful Paul Stuart jacket that must have cost its owner thirty times more. Of course it needs revisions, I mean alterations, but some days are like that -- full of chance rhymes and serendipitous encounters, like a poem. Like finding the right silk tie to link the jacket to the red tennis shirt I was wearing, and I had just the right costume for date night, our date night, which also turns out to be the Obamas' date night, and the reason there are so many cops along Sixth Avenue is that the Obamas are here -- they're eating at Blue Hill on Washington Place, a "Greenmarket haven" featuring food that star chef Dan Barber grows on his upstate farm. We ate dinner there ourselves once.
The cops were cracking wise but keeping a straight face. The crowds were gathering on the avenue -- though it was now six o'clock and the Obama motorcade would not be moving up Sixth for another hour and a half. Turning left on West Third Street we stepped into the Blue Note, where Frank Sinatra Junior was going to sing some of his papa's tunes with an excellent band at around the same time that the curtain would go up at the Belasco, where the Obamas were going to see "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," August Wilson's play about black sharecroppers migrating to the industrial north.
Stacey managed to get us the two best seats at the Blue Note bar, and the next person to sit down wore a white jacket and a black shirt. If I ever write a spy novel, I can promise him a part. Stacey and I can recommend the concoction prepared by the bartender -- Vladimir by name, Serbia by origin -- consisting of tequila, agave, fresh lime and Grand Marnier, shaken vigorously with ice, then strained into a cold martini glass. Almost as much fun to make as to sip.
Sinatra Jr. called his father "Sinatra" and sang "Here's to the Losers" unexpectedly, and a song I hadn't heard before, said to be Johnny Mercer's last lyric, circa 1976. The music was undoubtedly Jimmy Van Heusen's, but what was the song called? "Empty Tables," maybe. Among the more predictable choices, Porter's "I've Got you Under My Skin," Arlen's "One for My Baby," and Gershwin's "A Foggy Day in London Town" showed that Nelson Riddle's peerless arrangements remain impreccable. From the Count Basie sessions, "Summer Wind" has weathered well; less so the bigger hit that was on the flip side of "Summer Wind" back in the summer of 1966: "Strangers in the Night." Each instrumentalist had his moment in the sun: the piano in "One for My Baby," the trombone in "Skin," the whole horn section in "Luck Be a Lady." Sinatra quoted his "uncle, Milton Berle" about how audiences used to be full of middle-aged men and their daughters. Tony Bennett was in the audience and took a bow. It was a lovely way to spend an evening.
Re: haikus from Sinatra
Date: 1/9/03 9:52:43 AM Eastern Standard Time
It's quarter to ten:
There's no one in the room
but rules of haiku!
New Year's a season:
squirrels contradicting whom --
And whose love is who? -- DS, 1 / 9 / 03
Whose woods, whose leaves, whose
icicles hanging from trees?
Who deserves credit?
The yew tree gave us
years of green and private shade.
The snow storm felled it. -- DL, 1 / 9 / 03
Re: Sinatra's in Season: Haiku snow falls
No more rhymes, just fact:
Pigeons above basketball
court -- past -- present tense --
Is the future fact?
Sinatra in outer space --
Glenn Gould's Goldberg cracked -- DS 1/ 10 / 03
... and you can get it
in season: nice work
if you can get it.
So I wrote a piece
on him for “American
Heritage,” R Snow,
editor. The snow
needs no editing,
none shall get from me.
No sun’s as bright as
on a January day
with snow on the ground. -- DL, 1 / 10 / 03
Thanks to Blender magazine (and NPR), we now know our presidential candidates' top ten favorite songs.
The only recording artist to make both lists is Frank Sinatra. John McCain picked Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin" (probably FS's finest uptempo song) as number 8 on his list; Barack Obama made the more unconventional choice, "Easy to Love," and put it seventh. Both songs were written by Cole Porter. Unusual choices: McCain picks two songs by ABBA; Obama, a known Rolling Stones fan, opts for "Gimme Shelter," a daring selection though no doubt safer under the circumstances than "You Can't Always Get What You Want" or "19th Nervous Breakdown. " Inadvertently funny pick: McCain votes for the great Jerome Kern standard "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" -- in the Platters' doo-wop version. McCain's list is the more predictable -- Neal Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," straight from the seventh-inning stretch. And I'd rather listen to any other song by Louis Armstrong, a hero of mine, than "What a Wonderful World."
It was the sort of hot humid day that most people hate but I perversely love. Driving to a pool at the base of a waterfall where floating I could feel like an ice cube in a highball, I listened to Bill Shedden's weekly "Classic Sinatra" program on WCNY (90.3 FM) in Syracuse. Labor Day will mark four full years of this weekly one-hour program, one of several shows that demonstrate the superiority of a public radio station that designs its own programing rather than buying the national feed (e.g. "Performance Today"). Shedden started this evening with Sinatra's late Capitol period (Porter's "You Do Something to Me" and Rodgers & Hart's "Lover"). Later he played a little-heard rendition of Berlin's "It's a Lovely Day Tomorrow" from 1940.
More songs from the Tommy Dorsey period were coming, because Jo Stafford -- who was one of the Pied Pipers accompanying Sinatra in the Dorsey band before her own highly successful career as a solo vocalist -- died at age 90 last Sunday. Congestive heart failure.
Jo Stafford -- "GI Jo," to ardent soldiers during World War II -- had as fine and as pure a voice as any Big Band "girl singer" or cabaret chanteuse in a period rife with great examples of both. Her interpretations were not unusual or offbeal but she had great pipes and sang with a sweetness that combined the essence of sincerity with the intimacy of a slow-dance. She sang with great clarity and had magnificent range. Her versions of "Too Marvelous for Words" and "Embraceable You" are definitive. I also recommend her versions of "Manhattan Serenade," "Yes, Indeed," and "The Things We Did Last Summer," all from the late 1940s. She is audible in "I'll Never Smile Again," "Let's Get Away from it All," and "O! Look at Me Now," which Dorsey arranged in 1940 and '41 when Sinatra was the boy singer and Connie Haines the girl singer in his band.
I once wrote a poem beginning "When I fall in love, I want Jo Stafford's voice in my ear."
Tips on Tables - By Robert W. Dana - November 30, 1945
Sinatra Takes Over Wedgewood Room and Wins Crowd Despite His Illness
The quality of laryngitis is strained these nights at the Waldorf-Astoria's Wedgwood Room where Frank Sinatra is making a belated start on a short engagement. It is painfully obvious that he shouldn't be singing until he has had proper rest yet he sang 14 numbers Wednesday night, the concluding one "Old Man River."
Ordinarily the slim technician of modern song-phrasing is in his element with a large band behind him-wasn't he once a swing band vocalist? And Dick Stable's 22-piece band, featuring numerous violins and a harp, lends splendid support, but the voice that has hypnotized millions was like a butterfly in a whirlpool.
It was a masterful performance, nevertheless. There was the familiar stance, the bending of the microphone, the intent, searching glance that swept back and forth across the room in piercing penetration of the customers' thoughts and feelings and moods. He'd even turn now and then and seem to signal facilely to his piano accompanist.
Rises to His Best.
Frank's opening number was "Paper Moon"- light, airy and huskily fragile. Next came "It Might as Well Be Spring," "Laura" and "Its Been a Long, Long Time."The fifth tune was Irving Berlin's memorable "How Deep Is the Ocean," which is having a notable rebirth among top favorites. It revealed Sinatra at his best, too. From then on the singer seemed to have his laryngitis licked and the program became vibrant. He told of the time Jimmy Van Heusen and Phil Silvers were houseguests at his home and wrote a number called "Nancy With the Laughing Face," dedicated to the joy and sparkle that is his daughter. No great shucks of a composition but a tender, touching song.
After rendering "My Romance," from the still-remembered "Jumbo," and "When I Marry Sweet Lorraine," he pulled the first surprise of the evening with "Bess, Where Is My Bess." A haunting, lovely tune, he sang it very well
It's Jerome David Kern's birthday. Jerry would have been 123 years old today. Jonathan Schwartz is devoting his Sunday show on WNYC-FM to Kern's songs as interpreted by Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Margaret Whiting, et al. Terrific, and interspersed are songs composed by Jimmy Van Heusen, born yesterday (and here's Stacey Kent with "The Tender Trap"). Van Heusen, real name Chester Edward Babcock, named himself after a shirt.
Here's my own playlist for today, twenty canonical Kern numbers (one of them played twice]:
A Fine Romance (lyrics Dorothy Fields) [as sung by Billie Holiday c. 1934]
All the Things You Are (Oscar Hammerstein) [Ambrosian Chorus/ London Sinfoniette/ John McGlinn]
Bill (P. G. Wodehouse) [Helen Morgan]
Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (Hammerstein) [Teresa Stratas with Frederica Von Stade, Karla Burns, Bruce Hubbard, and chorus]
I'm old Fashioned (Johnny Mercer) [Eileen Farrell]
I Won't Dance (Fields) [Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald]
Long Ago and Far Away (Ira Gershwin) [instrumental Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt]
Look for the Silver Lining (Buddy DeSylva) [Judy Garland]
Lovely to Look At (Fields) [Fred Astaire]
Make Believe (Hammerstein) [Ambrosian Chorus / London Sinfoniette / John McGlinn]
Ol' Man River (Hammerstein) [Sinatra 1945]
Pick Yourself Up (Fields) [Mel Torme]
Pick Yourself Up (Fields) [Nat King Cole]
She Didn't Say Yes (Otto Harbach) [Ella Fitzgerald]
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Harbach) [Sarah Vaughan]
The Song is You (Hammerstein) [Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with Sinatra vocal]
The Way You Look Tonight (Fields) [Astaire in Swing Time]
They Didn't Believe Me (Harold Reynolds) [Sinatra radio c. 1950]
Why Do I Love You? (Hammerstein) [Ambrosian Chorus / London Sinfoniette / John McGlinn]
You Couldn't Be Cuter (Fields) [Ella Fitzgerald]
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.