Frank Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915, in Hoboken. He was the child of an ex-boxer and a domineering, ambitious mother. As a child Sinatra wanted to become a journalist, but decided to quit school early in order to become a musician. In 1935 Sinatra was matched with three other singers on a radio show “Major Bowes Amateur Hour”. Together they formed “The Hoboken Four” and went on a road show.

In 1939 Harry James hired Sinatra to be a vocalist in his band. They recorded “All or nothing at all”, which became a major hit song in 1943. In the same year Sinatra recorded four albums, backed up by a vocal group named “Pied Pipers”. Sinatra had then already left James in order to work in conjunction with Tommy Dorsey, whom he recorded more than 90 songs with. Axel Stordahl, a friend of Dorsey’s, became Sinatra’s chief musical architect. In the same period Sinatra recorded two movies: “Las Vegas Night” and “Ship Ahoy”, which weren’t of much success until the late fifties.

From 1943 onwards Sinatra performed solo, mostly recording romantic ballads. These years are known as Sinatra’s “Columbian years” (Columbia being his record company). By 1952, however, Sinatra was out of energy and took a step back. In 1953 he moved to Capitol Records. This set foot for a new sound: jazzier, heavier, more swing. This has everything to do with the conjunction with band leader Nelson Riddle, a symbiosis with the same magic as for example Miles Davis & Gil Evans. It resulted in the great albums “In The Wee Small Hours” (Capitol ’54) and “Songs for Swingin' Lovers” (Capitol ’55).

In 1961 Sinatra started his own label: “Reprise”. In the following years Sinatra would work together with a great share of jazz artists: Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones amongst others.

In the nineties Sinatra regained some of his fame when he recorded “Duets”, but the true Sinatra-era was over. Sinatra retired in 1995 after years of rumors about his failing health. He died of a heart attack on May 14, 1998.

The miraculous thing about Sinatra was that he never became obtrusive. His music sounds like he walks towards you, makes a small casual gesture, then walks on again.
His Capitol-records eventually offer more solace than artists that push their message through your throat. There are moments in your life that only records like these can offer relief.

If Frank Sinatra was here, he’d know what to do after the whiskey bottle spills its last drop into my glass. The other drop, the one that won’t go into any glass but clings to the neck and crawls down the side, staining the label, he’d know what to do with that. He’d explain to us all how to tip our hats.

His Rat Pack would sing and swing and I’d follow them to some swanky club. Smoke filled, in a comfortable booth, we’d laugh at the expense of some schmuck who spilled on his tie. Frank would never loosen his and I’d never wear mine. The moon would hit our eyes like a big pizza pie and I’d know exactly what to do.

We’d arrive in a big, black Lincoln with suicide doors. Everybody would clap and I’d know exactly how to handle it. My Camel Straights would pile in the pocket of my dinner jacket and I’d be able to smoke anywhere I wanted. There would always be a gold-plated Cartier lighter handy. The skirts and twirls would make eyes and a bottle of the house’s finest would be sent to our table from some big shot butter-and-egg man who wanted to impress.

Martini shakers would gleam in the dim light like scepters held by the kings of the night. Frosty cold and full of the finest gasoline, my glass would paint a ring on the napkin in front of me while I thanked the bartender by name and greased his palm like I do every night.

If Frank Sinatra was here, I would have better things to do than write. My glass wouldn’t be empty and I wouldn’t have to step outside to smoke. There wouldn’t be a coffee table stacked with bills or the sound of the refrigerator clicking on. It would be nothing but smooth sailing and glasses clinking without the cold reminder of loneliness.

But Old Blue Eyes isn’t here and my brown eyes just can’t seem to see what’s next. I guess I’ll pay those bills and see what’s in the ‘fridge. Smooth sailing will exist in the scratched record that I keep starting over and on the pages of this dream that I write because the bottle is empty and that last drop didn’t make it in my glass.

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