Saturday, March 31, 2012

I’m Listening to Sinatra Again

On those late winter days when spring teases us like a harlot in a short skirt I cannot resist the urge to create something. You may have guessed by now that the world I’ve created for myself is exceedingly complex and an absolute joy to me. I even enjoy bad days. I enjoy them because I’m here and I’m not sitting on my ass complaining which is the fashion these days. And as I sit here listening to Sinatra yet again I still can’t adequately express why his music is the equal to the poetry of W. S. Merwin or the sweeping novels of Thomas Wolfe. It’s something I know instinctively.

So after a rough week of work and more work and then fashioning that pulp story set in Chicago in 1939 I decided to take just a moment, crack a beer, and listen....

I don’t normally talk about music on this blog but it’s very much a part of my life. I am never without music, and in a way not dissimilar to my reading habits I refuse to limit myself to one style, artist or genre. But Sinatra is eternal. I wanted to write an essay on why Sinatra matters when I discovered that Pete Hamill had beaten me to the punch. His slender book, Why Sinatra Matters, is a fixture in my den. It’s important to remember that I’m a graduate of the Beat Generation cum Rock and Roll generation of spontaneous poets. It’s the moment that matters.

I won’t presume to offer more than Pete Hamill, but in the spirit of the moment I’ll offer this morsel to the digital highway. Perhaps some cyber surfer will read this and decide to explore Sinatra. Stranger things have happened, and the Internet does have its purposes after all. Learn for yourself why we treasure the collaborations with Nelson Riddle and then Billy May. Learn for yourself why Sinatra’s rendition of “The Way You Look Tonight” as arranged by Riddle is the best version of this Jerome Kern-Dorothy Fields song ever recorded.

I had a friend once who said Sinatra didn’t make him want to dance. So I bet him I could play him a Sinatra track that would get him out of his chair and swinging his ass, drunk or sober. So I played “Mack the Knife,” a duet Sinatra recorded with Jimmy Buffett. I played it loud. You can guess the rest.

It’s time to swing. Turn it up loud.

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