When the Times Union Center, or the Knickerbocker Arena, as it was then called, was first opened in downtown Albany in 1991, Frank Sinatra was the first performer. I didn’t go, but it seems that I’ve managed to have collected music representing most of his career.
I’ve acquired two CDs of his V-discs, recorded on Columbia Records, tracks sent out to the troops during World War II. He was idolized by “bobby soxers”, predated the adulation Elvis Presley and the Beatles would experience.
Then I have a boxed set of his Capitol singles from the 1950s. This is my favorite period, after Sinatra fell out of favor for a time, in no small part because he dumped his wife, the mother of his children, for actress Ava Gardner, in what was a tumultuous romance. Sinatra reemerged after appearing in the movie From Here to Eternity, a gig Gardner helped him get; he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
By the time I was old enough to really know who he was, he had left Capitol in 1961 to start his own record label, Reprise Records. And the Rat Pack mystique was in full force. He would occasionally muscle his way onto the pop singles charts against the likes of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles – Paint It, Black and Paperback Writer were the #1 pop hits immediately before Strangers in the Night, a song Sinatra hated. Still, my favorite Sinatra song, That’s Life, also came out in this period. So I do have the Reprise box as well.
This 1966 Esquire article explains the Sinatra mystique, and thus my ambivalence about his persona. The Frank of this period reminded me of the caricature played by Joe Piscopo and others on Saturday Night Live, the guy who was old-fashioned, using “cats” for guys and “chicks” for women. He retired, then unretired in the early 1970s.
I started “getting” him in the 1980s and actually bought the two Duets albums in the 1990s. He died in 1998. And my appreciation of his music, especially the albums, has grown.
Sinatra rock meme (I used to do those quite often on this blog)
CBS News: Sinatra at 100
Ken Levine: Somebody should say this about Sinatra; I agree