Big: "I can tell you one thing - I sure did miss you. Officially."
Carrie: "Did you cry?"
Big: "No. But I did listen to a hell of a lot of Sinatra."
- Sex and The City, Season 2, Episode 6, "The Cheating Curve"
Let's get this out of the way - I loved SATC. Absolutely loved that series. It's the writing, the performances, the unforgettable characters. The insight into a woman's mind. OK, the insight might be a little iffy, but still it was a great show to watch. What can I say? I have the DVD set and I watch it repeatedly, and I never tire of it.
However, this blog is about Frank Sinatra. John James Preston, I'm with you, Big fella. No one, and I mean no one, sings for my broken heart like the Chairman of the Board.
When he sang ballads, that guy poured every ounce of his heart and soul into the performance You can feel it. I guess there is something to the idea that here was this tough guy, who swore and beat people up, who befriended gangsters. This ultimate tough guy, a man's man, completely exposing his soft side when he sang. What can you say? I know I can honestly say that Francis Albert Sinatra has healed my broken heart many times in my life. I probably would not have an emotional outlet if I did not have his music. Thank you for that, sir.
Oh, and before I forget, let's remember that the crooner could swing like nobody's business. I read somewhere that he got that from Sammy Davis Jr. Totally awesome.
Over the years, I've collected many of his music CDs. My intention was to gather a representation of the man's entire canon of work. Below, I have listed all the major periods in Sinatra's singing career, and the collection or boxed set that I feel represents that particular period. Here is my current list of music that I own:
1939: Harry James
The Complete Recordings Nineteen Thirty-Nine
The best known track is "All or Nothing At All", but my favorite number here is "The Lamp Is Low."
1939-1942: Tommy Dorsey
The Song Is You
This five disc boxed set represents the complete recordings Frank did with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, including a live radio show announcing Sinatra's departure from the band on disc 5. My fav song of the whole set is "This Is The Beginning Of The End". Love the arrangement!
The Columbia Years 1943-1952: The Complete Recordings
A lot of good songs and not so good songs (especially at the end of this period - "Mama Will Bark"? Yikes!), but I never get tired of "I Fall In Love Too Easily" (ain't that the truth!)
The Columbia Years 1943-1952: The V-Discs
This set contains recordings from V-Discs that were sent to troops during World War II. The V-Discs were the only recordings that the musician's union allowed Sinatra to record during a session musicians strike between 1942 and 1944. My fav here? No contest. Young Frank singing the Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields classic, "The Way You Look Tonight," though "If You Are But A Dream" is a pretty good second.
1953-1962: Capitol Records
The Capitol Years - Concepts
Um, are you kidding? The whole freaking Concepts box is my all time favorite music listening activity. This is absolute Sinatra Nirvana. It is easily my most favorite period of Sinatra's career. This was my first big music collection purchase and it still holds a special place in my heart. Everything is here. You wanna swing? You wanna dance? "Come Dance With Me!" You wanna cry? Got a broken heart? Play all the tracks on "Only The Lonely." Put down the gun, and flush the sleeping pills down the toilet. Holy geez.
The Complete Capitol Singles Collection
This completes the entire Capitol canon (before the Duets albums.) A lot of good tunes here on this four disc set, but when "Witchcraft" is one of them, it's all over.
The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings
From Sinatra's own recording company, this collection is all you will need for this period. On twenty CDs and listed in chronological order, I tend to focus on all the stuff before the more "modern" stuff and I definitely avoid Disco Frank (the roller disco version of "All Or Nothing At All" needs to be erased off the history books.)
Special Collector's Items
From The Vaults & From the Vaults No. 2 and More
The Vaults were collectors' only CDs containing studio sessions and chatter during the Capitol era. It's like being a fly on the wall during a Sinatra recording session. The Sinatra family had the guy who sold these (Rick Apt) jailed, so they will never be sold again. My fav highlight is from No. 2. You get to hear Frank try a couple of takes of Nelson Riddle's arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life." He aborts the attempt, intending to get back to it on a later date, but he never did. This is all you will ever hear of Frank singing this great song. If you've ever read the book "Sessions with Sinatra: Frank Sinatra and the Art of Recording" by Charles Granata, the session chatter that Granata references tells me that he had access to the same CDs and tapes that Apt had. He does a good job describing what's on the CDs. I was lucky to get these CDs when they were available. I remember there were a whole lot of Reprise sessions that I never got the chance to buy. Ah well. I heard that the Capitol stuff is more interesting, which is why the Vaults and Vaults No. 2 is a major get for the serious Sinatraphile.
There was a radio program broadcast by NBC from 1953-1955 called Perfectly Frank: After Hours With Frank Sinatra. The show was broadcast two days a week, and was picked up by Armed Forces Radio. This CD contains songs from those broadcasts. Another collectors' only CD.
And, there you have it. A 2GB iPod shuffle isn't big enough to hold everything, but it can hold the entire Capitol Records era, which is fine by me. Until next time, ring-a-ding-ding!