From the very first beat of this song, I am hooked. Every single time. Doesn't matter where I am, what was happening the moment before, or what kind of mood I'm in. I pause for perfection. I'm drawn in right now just thinking about it.
Some of it, of course, is down to the artistry and understanding of Nelson Riddle. But Frank was in control of the scene.
When I was a child, I didn't understand anything about Frank Sinatra, and barely tolerated him. I thought he was a creepy has-been, bloated and snide, singing songs I found sleazy, such as "Strangers in the Night" and "The Best is Yet to Come." I understood he was a good singer with a respectable past career. But it had nothing to do with me.
I can't quite say when my view of the man and his song began to change, but when it did, it was like flipping a switch. I went from disdain to devotion in the snap of a finger.
Suddenly I couldn't get enough of him. It wasn't the same kind of love affair I have with Bobby Darin. That one's a slow-burning ongoing kind of a thing; it's like a picnic on a sultry day with storm clouds rumbling off in the distance. Bobby Darin is the love of my more youthful nature. Frank, on the other hand, is the love I am capable of having only now that I'm grown up and know a whole lot more about life and what it can offer.
It's hardly possible I'd truly like the man if we sat at a table together pouring out a bottle of Jack, mine with soda and cherries, because I'm a girl like that. It is entirely certain I wouldn't want to get up from that table, though, until last call and a call for a cab.
Frank turned 50 the year I was born. He could have been my grandpa when he released the album September of My Years. I haven't quite hit September; it's still July here, at least in my head. Late July, sure, but no autumn leaves in sight just yet. And in my head, Frank doesn't really get older than 50. It's impossible not to be impressed with all he managed to achieve over the next decade, and with his later brief comeback. But my love for Frank is all tied up with my love for the period in which he is best known, that 25 year span from Hitler's invasion of Poland to the Beatles' invasion of America. That's the period of time which provides me the most joy in terms of music, fashion, interior design, and pop culture. Frank is emblematic of a whole lot of that good stuff I missed out on.
Over the past 18-20 years, as I've changed and matured, my taste in music has as well. I'm less prudish in my tastes, more willing to dip beneath the surface and see what else there is to enjoy, more willing to explore and try out new things. Every time I discover or rediscover a Sinatra song I am blown away by what I was missing out on, at the same time realizing I probably wasn't ready for it before. It's cool; there's still a lot more ground to cover, and I'm enjoying the trip.
I used to have this cassette of Frank's music, and there were three or four songs I always ffed through because I found them either dull or unsettling. A decade later, I got a CD of that same collection, listened to it all the way through, and was struck hard by one of the songs I'd previously always skipped over. It blew me away, so hard, I was nearly speechless. I listened to it over and over again, taking in every nuance I could grab onto. A song I once thought I hated, I suddenly could not get enough of...
I will always remember that day, and even where I was driving in the car when it happened. It was only about 5 years ago, and yeah, it hit me: what else had I been missing out on all these years? I've been on the hunt ever since, to absorb as much Sinatra as I can—from 1939 when he started with Harry James, to 1964, when he recorded the album that contains this song—for at least the rest of my summer days.
We have Quincy Jones to thank for taking that song, previously recorded by at least three other artists, and turning into a Sinatra Special. And it was actually the last song he sang in public, in January 1995.
This is my Frank:
and this one:
And here's the song he sang just for me, while I was en route to this crazy scene we call Life:
He knew just how it was gonna be for me, all these years later. What else is there to say now? Here's to Frank Sinatra, to music, to life and to the love of it all.