As a rock fan and, later, the host of a rock and roll radio show, I saw this meme/quote online and thought, “Stupid old fart.”
How dare old blue eyes insult Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley and whoever else knocked him off the charts?
Then again, rock and roll pushed big band jazz, and crooners like Sinatra, Perry Como and Bing Crosby to the sidelines. The old guard would maintain a steady fan base, make movies and appear on TV specials but teens wanted Presley and, later, the Fab Four and the Rolling Stones.
REAL MUSIC, NOT NOISE
My folks were fans of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Harry James. They never forgave Elvis and the Beatles for replacing the big bands in terms of popularity.
Dad said rock “outfits” did nothing but scream and “strum” guitars.
Though, oddly enough, he wasn’t crazy about Frank. Dad preferred Crosby, Andy Williams and Jack Jones. Mom was a Sinatra fan, but mostly the ’40s version, not the croaky Sinatra of the ’70s and beyond. I always remember film critic Rex Reed ripping a mid-’70s concert by old blue eyes, saying the singer had lost it.
Mom would have agreed with Rex on that.
But…somehow, Sinatra regained his cool, even after his death.
After high school, and before college, I had a summer job in downtown Toronto. We were photocopying documents for a trial that pitted an oil refinery against the goverment of Newfoundland. Or, as the project leader said, in his English accent, we were “discovering documents.”
Felt like photocopying to me but I digress.
THE JAZZ DUDE
One of my co-workers was a recent York University music grad named Doug Banwell. He played sax and was a serious musician who often slagged the tunes I played on the cassette player I brought to the office. For example, Free Bird…”That guy’s a bullshit guitarist,” said Doug.
Sinatra’s name came up and, when I wondered why Doug cared about the vocalist I considered to be a dinosaur, Doug said, “All jazz musicians listen to Frank.”
It struck me back then and my Sinatra appreciation, despite that anti-rock and roll meme, has grown over the years.
There aren’t many artists in music history you can sum up with, “When (he/she) has sung it, it’s been sung.”
WHEN, LYRICALLY SPEAKING, HE BIT OFF MORE THAN HE COULD CHEW
Frank Sinatra did it his way. Not along ago, there was a TV special celebrating what would have been Sinatra’s 100th birthday and, despite the well-meaning tributes (Seth McFarlane gave a fine performance ) it only amplified the feeling of, “No one did it like Frank.”