Sinatra 100th: The Best Performances – 19-17
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…
19 — Almost Like Being In Love
Music & Lyrics: Alan Lerner, Frederick Loewe
Recorded: 22 March 1961
From the album Come Swing With Me
Whenever I’m a bit down, whenever Life gnaws too much on my Soul, I most often turn to Frank for a kick in the patootie to remind me that it ain’t all bad.
And this is one of the first recordings I always turn to [the rest being other Francis and Billy May performances]…
18 — The Gal That Got Away / It Never Entered My Mind
Music & Lyrics: Harold Arlen, Ira Gershwin / Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers
Recorded: 08 April 1981
From the album She Shot Me Down
Frank had recorded both of these songs separately, but they magically came together because of a falling-out he had with his long time pianist, Bill Miller, as Mark Steyn explains:
… Sinatra had fallen out with his longtime pianist Bill Miller — mercifully only temporarily. Nevertheless, in Miller’s absence, he put aside “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)”, which must surely have been painful for him. But the song never quite worked as well without Miller at the piano, and Sinatra was too good a musician not to know that. So he needed a new number for the saloon-song moment in his live show. And somewhere along the way he came up with the idea of a medley….
in 1955, Frank took another crack at the song, this time with Nelson Riddle for the album In The Wee Small Hours. And in the late Seventies, it was this Riddle chart for “It Never Entered My Mind” that he wished to pair with Riddle’s chart for “The Gal That Got Away”. The only problem was that, aside from falling out with Bill Miller, Frank had also fallen out with Nelson Riddle.
So it fell to Don Costa to slow the songs down and stitch them together — by inserting “It Never Entered” into the middle of “Got Away”. Vincent Falcone was the pianist who’d replaced Miller and he was told by Costa on the day they were due to do the medley that they were keeping their options open as to whether they’d do both songs with the full orchestra, or “Gal” with the band and “Never Entered” with just the piano. The final call would be Frank’s, obviously. “We were rehearsing the medley, and we got to the section where we went into ‘It Never Entered My Mind’,” recalled Falcone, “and he waved the orchestra off and he pointed to me. I played it alone with him.” The young pianist got through it, and then they rehearsed the number with the full band:
I fully expected that when I came back to do the show that night, it would be with the orchestra. But, just to be on the safe side, I went home after the rehearsal and woodshedded the accompaniment. I practiced it until I knew it backward, forward, and sideways. If I was going to play this thing alone, I would know exactly how it went, and how I wanted to do it.
I didn’t even think of it again until I got back there that night. The solo accompaniment had slipped my mind until Frank Sinatra’s pal Jilly Rizzo came out of the dressing room and said, ‘Hey kid, you know that medley? Well, Frank wants you to do it. No orchestra. Just you.’ I played it, and Mr S introduced me for the first time. Man, what a feeling. What a rush. My knees shook. Frank Sinatra is recognizing me. This wasn’t Luigi’s in Syracuse. This wasn’t the Park Motor Hotel in Niagara Falls. This was the real thing.
And that’s how they did it ever after….
Thank the Good Lord, I would add. This is, perhaps, the best example of medley that really works, as if what you’re hearing was actually composed as a single song.
Add to that the fact that it’s clear Francis Albert has lived the lyrics and what you have here is a classic performance for the ages…
17 — TIE
The Tender Trap (Film Version #2)
Music & Lyrics: Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen
Recorded: 15 July 1955
From the film The Tender Trap
From the special compilation box Sinatra In Hollywood
This gem is only available in straight audio on a marvelous box set issued a decade or so ago, Sinatra In Hollywood [let us hope the great Charles Granata is able to get it re-issued], which contains music from Frank’s movies from his first all the way to the mid-1960’s. You can hear it if you watch the film, but it’s nice to be able to add it to a music playlist. I would highly recommend purchasing this compilation, which is available used on them there Innertubes for anywhere from seventy to two-hundred denarii.
This performance is a more intimate version than the hit single [which is comes in at #34 on my List] and, therefore, hits a lot closer to home vis-a-vie the subject of the lyrics.
Enjoy this recording and getting caught…
[NOTE: The song starts just after the 1:42 mark.]
It Happened In Monterey
Music & Lyrics: Mabel Wayne, Billy Rose
Recorded: 12 January 1956
From the album Songs For Swingin’ Lovers
The lovely Pundette remarked about this recording:
It was written in 1930 by Mabel Wayne (music) and Billy Rose (words). Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle pumped new life into it in 1956 when they included it on their phenomenal Songs for Swingin’ Lovers.
Indeed they did, with Frank owning this tune as if it had been written specifically for him.
I cannot tell you exactly why this performance rates so high, but, without think twice, I love it.
See you next Weekend as we head-off again to Bobsville.
Don’t forget to also keep checking out
Pundette’s Sinatra 100 countdown,
Ms Evi’s Sinatra Celebration,
& Mark Steyn’s Sinatra Songs Of The Century.
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.