Artist of the Month: Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915.  This month would have been his 106th birthday.

I have been a Sinatra fan all my life. I am not sure where that came from, though. Sure, Sinatra was played at my house as a kid. My grandparents often had big band music playing at their house, too. 

But it wasn't until college when I truly became a fan.  I even saw him in concert in 1991.

When I first started teaching, I tried to impart my love of Sinatra's music onto my students. I placed extra credit Frank Sinatra questions on every test and distributed Frank Sinatra extra credit tokens for good work.

Plus, I created the Frank Sinatra Detention Club. If a student got a detention, then they would have to listen to 30 minutes of Sinatra (and me, singing along). 

It was a slow news day in September of 1992. A reporter had contacted me a few days earlier because there was a blurb put in the school board minutes about my detention club. Little did I know that my Frank Sinatra Detention Club story was going to be front page news in Chicago Sun-Times. The following day: nationally on the front page of USA Today. Calls started coming in. The story was one the wire. I did interviews in Canada, Tokyo and other places. Jay Leno even made a joke about me on the Tonight Show. The joked bombed. 

This was my 15 minutes of fame. 

Photo by Rex Chapman, Chicago Sun-Times (1992)

I haven't given detentions in years. But the "Club" lives on in a radio program that I do for Vinyl Voyage Radio

Why Sinatra? That's a hard question to answer. There is a certain "coolness" about Sinatra. He was a product of his times, for sure.  And much of his persona would most certainly not be acceptable today. But as a singer, he was unparalleled. In fact, he approached songs first as poems. He first read them without the music, and then listened to the accompaniment. He couldn't read music, and so his approach was always centered on the emotion of the lyrics. And he had a way of bringing that out in the song itself.

As a fan, here are my TOP FIVE Sinatra tunes:

5. "The Wave"
This is just an all around groovy song that screams late 60s Bossa Nova. 

4. "McArthur Park"
This song is pretty stupid. Except when Sinatra does it. He cut out the corny "someone left the cake out in the rain" lyrics, and what is left is sublime.

3. "Summer Wind"
Best. Summer. Song. Ever. 

2. "One More for My Baby"
Sinatra was known, for much of his career, as a "saloon singer." And this is the best.

1. "Cycles"
Hands down, this is my favorite Sinatra tune. When he sings, "And Friday, I got fired" you can just feel it.

Check out our specially created Spotify Playlist.


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