Friday, January 7, 2011

FRANK: THE VOICE, A NEW SINATRA BIOGRAPHY BY JAMES KAPLAN

It's been 13 years since Frank Sinatra died and he continues to be known and remembered by millions of people across the globe.  His music is still very popular as witnessed by TV re-runs of his music shows.  Sinatra even has his own radio station on XM radio called Seriously Sinatra that has a strong following of his fans who now can hear their favorite Sinatra songs all day and night if it pleases them. And his music still sells well today! This new book written by James Kaplan covers Sinatra's life from 1915 to 1954. I understand that it's the author's intention to write a second book covering the balance of Sinatra's life from 1954 until 1998. As a Sinatra fan, I had much interest in reading this period of Sinatra's life especially since I have read most of the other major biographies on Sinatra's life.  To get right to the point, if you are a Sinatra fan, you will enjoy this book.  That said, I did not find a lot of new stuff in this book, mostly a rehash of the stories and information I already knew. But I do think the chapters on Frank's early years did provide a better understanding of what would become the Sinatra personalities.  Yes, I think most of us know that Sinatra had many personalities, like "the good, the bad and the ugly".  Like many of the world's great artists, you have  to judge their talent and art separate from the personality from their art. Sinatra like most great artists was possessed by his art.  This can be clearly seen when reading about his early life and career.  Sinatra was convinced he not going to be just another singer.  Sinatra lived inside his music and its lyrics.  Kaplan shares the story of how before Sinatra would sing a new song, he would print out the lyrics and spend the next couple of weeks reading the lyrics as if he was reading a poetry.  He wanted to know precisely what the writer was trying to say.  Only after fully understanding the lyric would Sinatra work with the orchestra to record the song.  The result of this approach produced recordings that make audiences feel that Sinatra was always singing about his own life experiences.  It's clear that Frank's personality and character was frequently ugly, to say the least.  However, this is a statement that would fit many of the most gifted artists in our history. In order to love Sinatra you need to just focus on his music which became the best popular music ever recorded in the world.

2 comments:

  1. Question, rumor has it Michel Legrande and the Bergmans wrote a song at Sinatra's request that was to be very personal and sum up his life. Then Sinatra died, to the best of my knowledge the song has never been published. Can you shred any light on this? I would assume the Bergmans still have the chart. I think many of us would be interested in any info on this mysterious piece.

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  2. Hi Zelda, I had not hear this rumor but I will see if I can dig up any information for us.

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