The Grammy nominated, golden record album from Frank Sinatra that nobody has heard of. Despite featuring one of Frank Sinatra's more iconic songs, this little known three part concept album known as the Trilogy: Past, Present, and Future was meant to be a reflection of Frank Sinatra's career, starting with the Past which included many of his classic numbers, and then going into the Present, which mostly consisted of covers like those of The Beatles and Elvis, but where it gets really interesting is in the Future. [more inside]
Bing Crosby is something of the unofficial "classic voice of the Christmas season," but his most popular piece in recent years is the unlikely duet from 1977, the same year he passed away. The Washington Post provides the odd story of holiday harmony, how David Bowie joined Crosby at the piano for their duet, "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy". If you like the classics, here's some Bing over the years: a fan-made abbreviation of Frank Sinatra's Christmas Show from 1957, Bing sings "White Christmas" in 1961, Bing & Kathryn Crosby take you on a trip to "Christmas Island" from his 1971 Crosby family special, and from his final Christmas special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas, Bing and Twiggy singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." If you'd like a full period piece, here's an all-star 1958 USO Christmas show (program history and overview). If that's all a bit too sweet for you, let Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, June Carter-Cash, Jessi Colter, John Carter-Cash, and more regale you in the Christmas On The Road TV Special (1984).
Gay Talese's "Frank Sinatra Has A Cold" appeared in Esquire Magazine in April 1966. Sinatra had turned down interview requests from Esquire for years and refused to be interviewed for the profile. Rather than give up, Talese spent the three months following and observing the man and interviewing any members of his entourage who were willing to speak -- and the final story was published without Sinatra's cooperation or blessing. In 2003, editors pronounced it the best article the magazine had ever published. Nieman Storyboard interviewed Talese last month about the piece and has annotated it with his comments. [more inside]
Gary Russo from Queens sings Summer Wind, the Frank Sinatra classic, on his break from helping build the 2nd Avenue subway. (Here's Sinatra singing it.)
"Smoke on the Water", as performed by Germany's military brass band and Berlins guard battalion, part of the farewell to German defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. [more inside]
When I was 17... it was a very good year. Opera is now available in the Mac App store but you must be 17 years old to download it. Those under 17 can get it outside the app store.
The Music of Jacques Brel is an article by music journalist Amy Hanson about the career of pop music legend Jacques Brel and his effect on popular music in the English language. A lot of songs and covers are mentioned in the article, below the cut are links to the songs that I could find videos of online. [more inside]
In 1992, on a rainy night in Palm Springs, a drunk driver took the life of Jilly Rizzo, long-time pal of Frank Sinatra. Jeffrey Perotte (then 28) was an alcoholic "who had the papers for court-ordered alcohol rehabilitation sitting in the glove box of his car". He ran from the scene as Rizzo burned to death, and then attempted to convince officers that it was not him who had been driving, but his girlfriend. Sentenced to life, Perotte (website) 'turned his life around' in prison, earning three degrees along the way. He has come up for parole four times, with "a file full of testimonials from prison guards, counselors and even, twice, the judge who sentenced him," but has been denied each time. "What we've been dealing with all along," [his father-in-law] said, "has been the hidden hand of the Sinatras."
"After a day of barbering, Rodolfo Gregorio went to his neighborhood karaoke bar still smelling of talcum powder. Putting aside his glass of Red Horse Extra Strong beer, he grasped a microphone with a habitué’s self-assuredness and [...] belted out crowd-pleasers by Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. But Mr. Gregorio, 63, a witness to countless fistfights and occasional stabbings erupting from disputes over karaoke singing, did not dare choose one beloved classic: Frank Sinatra’s version of “My Way.” “I used to like ‘My Way,’ but after all the trouble, I stopped singing it,” he said. “You can get killed." [more inside]
Ahmet Ertegun was profiled by George W. S. Trow in The New Yorker in a classic piece back in 1978. Ertegun was the son of the Turkish ambassador to the US and he remained behind in D.C. studying medieval philosophy at Georgetown. Instead of devoting himself to his studies he founded Atlantic Records with his friend Herb Abramson. Trow charted how Ertegun moved from tramping through muddy, Louisiana fields in search of hot new sounds to the whirl of Studio 54. Below the cut are links to the songs mentioned in the article, as best as I could find, in the order in which they appear. [more inside]
"The most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear," Frank Sinatra wrote of rock 'n' roll during the time of Elvis Presley. But Frank wasn't stupid... he knew his relevance was fading and if you can't beat 'em, you have to join 'em. So in 1960, Elvis Presley was welcomed home from his two year military tour by the Frank Sinatra Timex Show "Welcome Home Elvis" special. Later Sinatra said, "I'm just a singer. Elvis was the embodiment of the whole American culture."
He's a computer tutor for seniors, who also seems to have a giant collection of music that's rare these days. Shortly before leaving to fight in Korea, he was kissed by Celia Cruz in 1951, among other adventures.
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas. It may be your last." "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has had several rewrites since Hugh Martin wrote the original lyrics for 1944's Meet Me in St. Louis. Judy Garland thought the song was "awfully dark" and Martin rewrote the lyrics for her performance in the movie. The penultimate line was "Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow." Frank Sinatra called Martin in 1957 and said, "The name of my album is A Jolly Christmas. Do you think you could jolly up that line for me?' Sinatra's version, with its peppier lyrics, became a holiday standard. [more inside]
On December 5th, a Croatian man named Nico awoke to find a map his girlfriend had left him featuring a specific path she wanted him to take to work; along the way he saw stencils, paint, aerosol, collage wheat pastes & other art she had laid out in the pre-dawn hours letting him know how much she loved him. The sights Nico saw, in order, are collected here.
Sinatra & Jobim. 6 minutes of Bossa Nova beauty, for your viewing pleasure. (Youtube link)
RumorFilter: The Family by Kitty Kelley, comes out on the 14th. It reveals how Dubya has had a very special friend in the mayor of a Tennessee city, who has has cohabited at the Texas ranch many times is just one of the rumors flying around about this book. Kitty's written about Sinatra, Nancy Reagan, Jackie O, and the Royals, so what's she got up her chiffon sleeves this time? Start dishing!
The Chairman Of The Bad: "Brassiere! I dig a broad with no brassiere!"... Full of unreleased concert material and wonderful anecdotes, This American Life's programme about Frank Sinatra is still the most entertaining I've ever heard about The Voice, bringing out his worst as well as his very best. It almost makes you feel like catching the next corny My Way [Though it has a goodish list of his most lasting songs] or Rat Pack show. Bone up on the wonderful slang or take the Sinatra quiz. And, if you're still a bit of a stranger to Sinatra, perhaps the Frank-ylizer will lead you to a record appropriate to your tastes and lifestyle. No, there can't be many better ways to fight the Monday blues! ["Chairman of The Bad" is a 1994 Bono quote; Sinatra's "brassiere" adlib is sung to the tune of Ary Barroso's famous Aquarela do Brasil/Brazil. Real Audio req.]
Be careful how you sing "My Way" After being ridiculed for an off-key version of My Way, the irate singer kills one heckler and wounds another. Philippine karaoke bars have begun to remove the song from their playlists as this was the climax of several violent incidents when this song was played.