When i was a kid my guitar teacher taught me some standards from the Great American Songbook. I recognized they were interesting tunes but not until I got a bit older did they really grab me. Around that time, a leading artist also grabbed me, that artist being Frank Sinatra.
Now, when I go for my late-night Covid shops it’s Frank who guides me thru the blue night. Well, not always. Sometimes I like Top 40. But recently… it’s been Frank (my USB player plugs into the car stereo 👍).
So this morning when I turned on Smooth Jazz Florida, my favorite quick fix for Benson-style chillout music, I did a double-take at this tune that was streaming online:
I didn’t know who it was right away. Harry Connick Jr? I thought. Whoever he is, he is really quite good! But after a minute or so I couldn’t help but think that the vocal performance was like a watered-down, slightly devalued imitation of the real thing.
This is one of my favorite “slice of life” songs by Sinatra. You can just see those sorry souls at the bar, trying to find love in all the wrong places. And you can feel real empathy for them.
Luckily I never liked booze much so was never a barfly, or whatever they are called.
But to get back to Frank, there’s something about his style that I absolutely love. These days modern synthesizers have a feature called “detune” which music producers use to put the note just slightly – called “cents” – off tune. It’s supposed to make things sound bigger, fatter, and more interesting.
Well, it seems Frank was “detuning” way before electronic music hit the scene.
Listen to the note Tryyyyyyyy (to think that love’s not around)…
It’s flat for more than a brief moment.
And the funny thing is, it works!
Now, some feel that Sinatra is a weak singer without a great range. But I disagree. Like all the greats, he’s so good he doesn’t even sound like he’s singing half the time. No, it’s like he’s talking. Talking right to you.
And that is what I call genius.
Frank Sinatra, American singer and actor. “Being an 18-karat manic depressive, and having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions, I have an over-acute capacity for sadness as well as elation.” (Source)
People who know me know that I am not a huge fan of psychiatric labels. I realize that some say they are helpful – maybe for a while, maybe for their entire lives – and that being diagnosed was liberating for them. But for others, well, I think a poor interpretation and application of the medical paradigm could actually be harmful in some instances.
Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada.
However, one thing rarely found is an intelligent critique of the entire mental health system as it currently exists.
And that’s a talk we really need, in my view.
Anyhow, to return to the music, which version of this song do you like best?
I respect the one but Frank will always win in my books! 😊