Saturday night—Today is Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday. As you might have heard.
The only child of Sicilian immigrants, Sinatra was in many ways the prototype of the modern superstar.
When I was a raggedy young art student living in a tiny walk-up apartment in Georgetown, I liked to walk. I could walk for miles, and was in the habit of getting out of the apartment at eight, nine or ten at night and walking for a few hours. Often there were things going on at the Kennedy Center, and sometimes I could get in and see them—if I came in 45 minutes or more after a classical concert started, for example, sometimes I could get the ticket-takers to waive the charge for a single obstructed seat, and I'd join the audience between pieces.
One brilliant warm Spring night there seemed to be a lot of excitement radiating from the Kennedy Center as I walked past along the Potomac. Had to be somebody big—it got so you could recognize the signs, feel the energy in the air. So I went up to investigate. There were cars and people everywhere, but the police had one of the driveways barricaded off and there was a knot of people clustered by the barricade. There was just one single car parked up by the door all by itself. I sort of snuck up through the bushes on the grass so I could get a better look. A cop was there to motion me to go no farther. I can still see it in my mind's eye: an utterly perfect, spotless, gleaming vintage Bentley, looking regal. I indicated the car and raised my eyebrows. The cop nodded.
The singer had a fabulous stereo, too—three-channel, on which he listened to three-channel master tapes (pictures here). Bet that would sound great even by today's standards. Weird factoid on that score: Sinatra had one punctured eardrum. It's what kept him out of the ranks during WWII, back home singing torch songs for all the lonely women. Maybe his '40s stuff was the foundation of his popularity—he sang songs about loneliness, sounding like the sentiments came straight from his heart, when so many people really were lonely.
I must admit I've never been a true fan. When I was young, Elvis was for grownups, and Sinatra was for older grownups. Even the Beatles and the Stones were for kids who were teenagers when I was in grade school. (I'm "Generation Jones." If you were born between 1955 and 1965, Google it.) But of what I've heard, I like his '40s stuff best, too.
(Music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sammy Cahn, arrangement by George Siravo.) More here.
Whether you're a fan or not, it's kind of interesting to think back as these cultural milestones click past. Happy Sinatra Centennial.
"Open Mike" is the off-topic editor's choice page of TOP. It usually appears on Sundays. Some weeks it's a day late, some weeks, a day early.
ADDENDUM: The Internet Is Amazing Part 253,781,463,920: Here's "Mr. Sinatra's" (as the cop said) 1963 Bentley S3 Saloon as it looks today...and from about the same angle I saw it from all those years ago at the Kennedy Center, even.
Still looks pretty good. It looked better when it was 20 years old instead of 52, under the night sky and the bright lights of the Kennedy Center, guarded by police.
Oh, and the Internet says the concert happened in April of '83....
Original contents copyright 2015 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
No featured comments yet—please check back soon!