Sinatra 100th: The Best Performances – 88-86
Here at TCOTS, we’re celebrating Frank Sinatra’s 100th Birthday by counting down what I think are his 100 best performances on Vinyl and CD. All of the songs on the List have been released on either one or both mediums. Interspersed with the countdown will be Honorable Mentions that didn’t make the List and a countdown of what I think are his best albums.
Francis Albert will be your pilot and Bobby Bell your navigator.
So sit back easy in your easy chair, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s take off in the blue…
88 — THE ONE I LOVE BELONGS TO SOMEBODY ELSE
Music & Lyrics: Gus Kahn, Isham Jones
Recorded: 3 May 1961
From the album I Remember Tommy
While Francis would have done, I’m sure, a jaunty version of this Gus Kahn / Isham Jones classic on his own [he did do a slice-your-wrists version on the No One Cares sessions (it was only released as a CD Bonus Track)], I’m not sure if it would not have made this List. But add the incredibly talented Sy Oliver to the mix, singing and arranging, and the result is some swingin’ magic — Sy’s contribution is THAT important. Mark Steyn has the full story on Mr. Oliver’s involvement in the recording of this track and Frank’s history with the song.
It’s such a goofy track, and, if ever it comes on the radio when I’m tootling around, I crank it up and it never fails to give me a lift.
87 — MY WAY
Music & Lyrics: Claude Francois, Jacques Revaux, Gilles Thibault, Paul Anka
Recorded: 30 December 1968
From the album My Way
In his marvellous book, Sinatra! The Song Is You — A Singer’s Art, Will Friedwald says it best:
…When he sings of the dejection and failure which led to his transforming tragedy into triumph, we not only feel it along with him but we give vent to our own inner longings to redirect rejection into redemption. Sinatra is a mythological figure who faces impossible odd and is very nearly beaten, yet undergoes a heroic transmutation and is born anew. Here he is, living proof that a nobody from nowhere can not only become a crucial figure in American culture but do it twice [Bob: Take that, Scott Fitzgerald].
…how can you not stand up and cheer at the sight of a man who can, at will, grow to be ten stories tall?
Despite the braggadocio, this performance always seems to strike a resonant chord in the soul of every man who has taken the blows and yet still has done it his way.
86 — ZING! WENT THE STRINGS OF MY HEART
Music & Lyrics: James Hanley
Recorded: 21 December 1960
Unreleased track from the Ring-A-Ding-Ding sessions; finally released as a bonus track on a 1990’s remastering of the album and on Frank Sinatra: The Reprise Years.
Until recently, this was the only version of the song available [it’s Take 01] and you can see why this recording didn’t make the final cut for inclusion on the album: there’s an unfinished quality to this performance, which is why it does not end-up appearing higher on this List. The verse is sung too quickly, in my opinion, and just doesn’t feel right. Apparently, Frank thought so too because on Take 04 [which you’ll hear later in this countdown and was only released in the past few years] he does slow it down, making the kick into high gear more effective. However, this is still, despite it all, one of The Chairman’s best performances and so it appears here. And, unlike the version of Ring-A-Ding-Ding that was the standard master until a few years ago, there’s none of the annoying reverb/echo that mars the other songs from this album’s sessions because Zing! was never mastered.
THE ONE I LOVE BELONGS TO SOMEBODY ELSE
Frank & Dean
Taped for The Frank Sinatra Show in the late 1950’s.
See you next Friday as we head-off again to Bobsville.
Don’t forget to also keep checking out
Pundette’s Sinatra 100 countdown
& Mark Steyn’s.
It’s a swingin’ world.
If you’re having trouble tracking down any of the performances on this List, contact me at Robert[dot]Belvedere[at]gmail[dot]com and I might be able to help you.