Skip to comments.Go See Sinatra
Posted on 03/01/2017 6:14:44 AM PST by Kaslin
"You're going without me?"
My not-yet-6-year-old daughter stood resolutely between us and the door.
"Yes," I said. "Your mom and I need to go."
"We only have two tickets."
My profoundly puzzled daughter asked this question in complete sincerity.
The story that answers it began several weeks before that moment of familial crisis in a midtown Manhattan hotel.
I was driving to work one March morning in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. -- listening to talk radio.
The lead local news story that day had nothing to do with politics or government but had global significance.
Seventy-eight-year-old Frank Sinatra had collapsed on stage in Richmond, Virginia. He could not finish his concert.
Sad to admit, my first reaction to this tragic news was consummately selfish. I had never seen Sinatra sing. Now, I believed, I never would.
But the next Sunday morning when I opened The New York Times, I changed my mind.
There was a large advertisement for a series of concerts Sinatra was scheduled to perform at Radio City Music Hall in April. Tickets would go on sale later that day. I decided instantly that my wife and I should go.
This would require some serious financial and logistical planning. But the first step was urgent: buying tickets before they sold out.
I was on the phone that day as soon as they went on sale and ordered two tickets for the show scheduled for Saturday, April 23, 1994.
Next, I needed to find a place we could stay in New York and someone who could take care of our three young daughters when we were at the show.
The latter was easy. My sister, who lives in Queens, immediately agreed to watch the girls -- who were then not-yet-6, 2 1/2, and 10 months old.
After some research, I found a small suite in a not particularly nice hotel in midtown Manhattan that would fit us all for just about the maximum I could afford.
I reserved it instantly.
In the intervening weeks, we listened to Frank Sinatra every evening -- everything from his classic recordings with Tommy Dorsey to his biggest hits from the 1960s.
My not-yet-6-year-old daughter not only decided she loved Sinatra, she decided she had a favorite song: "You Make Me Feel So Young."
Then came that night in that midtown hotel when she stood blocking the door as we prepared to leave her behind with her sisters and her aunt.
"You're going without me?"
When we did walk out of that hotel room, my wife and I were not sure we would get to see Sinatra that night either. He had canceled his concert the night before -- at the last minute. Would he show up tonight?
He did -- and the concert he gave was incomparable. He sounded like the Sinatra of the 1950s. He sang songs that were and always will be classics.
When we described the show the next morning to our not-yet-6-year-old daughter, it only deepened her remorse.
We had gone without her. She believed she would never see Sinatra, and I regretfully believed she was right.
What a memory it would have been for her to be at that show -- to not only know, as a young girl, who Sinatra was, but to have seen him sing.
Then The Washington Post arrived at our door the next Sunday morning. Sinatra was going to give yet another concert. This one would be at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland -- on a day very close to my daughter's sixth birthday.
This time, I knew I had to get three tickets -- and, fortunately, neither the finances nor the logistics would be as difficult as the show at Radio City.
And, yes, my daughter was sitting there -- as a just-turned-6-year-old girl--when Frank Sinatra sang, "You Make Me Feel So Young."
It turned out to be one of his last concerts.
I was reminded through that sequence of events in 1994 of a lesson my parents had taught me by example when I was growing up. One of the keys to being a dad or a mom is to make happy memories for your children.
No, they do not have to cost money or be difficult to plan -- like going to Manhattan to see an aging Sinatra. They just need to show that you care.
So, if the chance is there, if there is a realistic opportunity to actually do it, don't let that moment pass you by: Get three tickets, and go see Sinatra.
When people ask me what I listen to, I say “classical music...and Sinatra”. I was fortunate to see/hear Frank live twice - first around 1974-5 (it was after his “Main Event” concert in NY and almost the same show; I was around 18)), and later around 1981-2. He didn’t sound like he did in the 50’s, which was Sinatra’s greatest period, IMO; but he sounded good. I think he was better in the later concert I saw than the one in the 70’s. He could still do the up-tempo numbers well.
I like Sinatra music, but he was another mobbed up dope.
Then I heard him sing a few songs live into a mike in front of an actual orchestra. His voice was like an instrument, the dominant instrument, of the orchestra. Not a separate thing but the essential element. I have heard nothing like that from any singer before or since.
A lot of people don't get that there are several phases to Sinatra's singing career. All are so different thay almost sound like a different person. There's the young crooner who was the idol of bobby-soxers, then the swinging bachelor guy of the 50's in a fedora (the Capitol Years - his best years IMO), then the Rat Pack years of the 60's, followed by his years of touring in a tux from the mid-70's to his death. Most non-Sinatra fans probably think of "New York, New York" when they think of Sinatra. That was basically his last big hit, and done after his voice had lost much of its range and elasticity.
When I heard that Sinatra had started forgetting words to the songs on stage, etc. I told Hubby...let’s go see him. He was in Vegas and we went. He was forgetting his lines but it didn’t matter. He worked around it, laughed about it, and ad libbed it. Still one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. HE died not that much later.
So glad I got to see him.
He has gifted me with many, many tracks burned direct from the studio master tapes - some "dry" before the dreaded reverb was added and some with unreleased studio chatter. The sound quality of these direct burns from the studio tapes is quite exceptional. The "dry" very version of "The Best Is Yet to Come" is extraordinarily lifelike.
Sinatra's voice & phrasing remains the gold standard.
IMO, his best (recorded) live performance is "Live At The Sands" with Count Basie and a young Quincy Jones...except on "One For My Baby and One more For The Road" when he is joined by his personal pianist, Bill Miller. Arguably, it is THE best version of his signature song.
Thanks for the advice; “Saved” the recording to my Spotify library. Looking forward to listening to it
I listen to him sing Summer Wind and I hear a saxophone.
He produces a saxophone “growl”. That’s not a very good word for it.
He was a master of the sound he produced.
WWII draft dodger . . . my older Vet friends will never forgive him . . . showed his bravery on sound stages
Another favorite live Sinatra album for me is SINATRA '57.
This concert was recorded when his current album release was "A Swingin' Affair", and the program consists largely of songs of his Capitol albums up to Swingin' Affair. Because it's right at the height of Sinatra's cool Capitol persona, it just has an air of excitement that's is hard to beat. The arrangements of all the songs are more-or-less the same as the ones on the albums. His into music is Elmer Bernstein's theme from "Man With the Golden Arm", and then the band goes into the familiar opening to "You Make Me Feel so Young". Sinatra sounds a tad rough on a few of the slow songs where he has to hit a high note (he says "I feel like I swallowed a shot glass!"). But over all, a great concert.
I use that cover photo of Sinatra as the lock screen on my phone.
Also saw him up close, when he owned Cal Neva in Lake Tahoe, Ca. At 2am, as we were leaving, he was sitting with a small group near a piano, some of people stopped and waited to see if he would sing. About 3am he asked his pianist to warm up. He then sang for an entire hour. What a free performance!
Although "57' is quite good, I prefer his version of "One For My Baby" on the "Sands" - voicing a bit different on the line, "My bending your ear"
Sinatra did many great versions of "One For My Baby". I'll have to listen to the Sands album tonight. One thing for sure - he owned that song. No one else need even bother to sing it.
I went to school with his daughter, Tina. And, at one of her parties, we went next door to visit Zsa zsa.
I saw Frank in concert once, in Michigan in 1992. Obviously the voice had declined but he put on a great show with Shirley MacLaine. The place was mostly full but not sold out.
Watched a post war documentary yesterday that had a clip of Bing Crosby performing impromptu in front of some troops in England. He ragged on Sinatra, something about wearing a diaper.
Dang, is this story trying to make me buy tickets to the Red Hot chili Peppers concert and take my older two sons?? It’s so much $, just for one night...
He the fortune of seeing Sinatra in 1991 with my now wife. He was reading lyrics from a TelePrompTer but his voice was still magical. His voice is so strong and so pure that it dominated everything around him. Go buy Sinatra at The Sands right now. One of the best live records ever produced.
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