Sinatra and Me

I was just listening to Frank Sinatra the other night. That man could really sing.

I never really listened to Sinatra a lot before September of 1968. Before that time, I was an Elvis fan first. I like some other rockers too. Jerry Lee Lewis was another. I liked a lot of the other crooners besides Sinatra earlier on in my life too. Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Andy Williams. I sang “White Christmas” every year at school from 1964 through 1967. I could do “Everybody Loves Somebody” and sound just like Dean Martin, I’ll guarantee it. Paula and I went on our one and only cruise back in 2011, and I went to nightly Karaoke on the ship and sang that song. The rest of the cruise, I had people coming up to me in the dining room and saying….”There’s ol’ Dino” Yep, I do a pretty good imitation of him.

But Sinatra? I could never imitate him very well. I didn’t do it in High School because I had never listened to one of his albums before. Oh, I had heard him on the radio of course. “Strangers in the Night” was a hit song during 1966. It hit number 1 on the pop charts that year. His daughter also had a hit with “These Boots Were Made for Walking” in 1966. It seems that that was a good year for the Sinatra family. But, Sinatra’s album “Watertown” which came out in 1970, only sold 30,000 copies. He just sort of retired from recording new stuff after that. He got dissatisfied with the way his voice sounded and although he performed in Vegas, things were never the same.

I only discovered how much I loved his earlier music in that early fall of 1968. That’s the month I started to college at West Georgia College in Carrollton. West Georgia still had a real “small college” feel back in 1968, and I’m glad I went there. Another reason I’m glad I went was because that’s where I met my future wife. But…back to Sinatra.

My “assigned” roommate in Strozier hall at West Georgia College, who’s name was also Larry, was a real record collector. He brought his record collection, and his record player to college with him. I didn’t have squat besides the clothes in my closet, so I asked Larry if I could listen to his record player while he was gone to class. He told me it was ok, but “You might not like my taste in music” At first, I had to agree.

There were no rock and roll records in his collection. No Elvis, no Beatles, no Rolling Stones. There was Sinatra, Nancy Wilson and Deon Warwick. There was about 6 Sinatra records, and his record player held five albums at a time, so I took Sinatra. It was a good choice.

The albums were all from the fifties and early sixties…up to that 1966 album from which “Strangers in the Night” came. There was Cole Porter songs like “I’ve Got You Under my Skin” and there were songs from movies like “Three Coins in the Fountain” There were the greats: “Come Fly with Me”, “The Days of Wine and Roses”, “Fly Me to the Moon”, “The Lady is a Tramp”, “That’s Life”, and my favorite of all of his songs “It Was a Very Good Year”. My next to favorite was the oft recorded Paul Anka song “My Way” I think he is best remembered for that song, but I liked “very good year” the best.

It hit me the first time I heard it, and it still does the same to me after all of these years. He had a great hit song in the seventies with “New York, New York,” too. That was in 1979, and Sinatra is remembered best for that song, even though it came from a Liza Minelli movie.

All of those records that my roommate brought with him to college changed my tastes in music. I went on to listen to just about every album he had brought. I got to like Patti Page and Doris Day. I listened to Rosemary Clooney and Eartha Kitt. I took the measure of Billy Vaughn and Burt Bacharach. If not for those albums, I’d have never have loved music as completely as I do, and would have missed a lot of good moments in the history of music.

Larry and I were roommates for that entire year, and after that year I married my permanent roommate!

I do still love Sinatra though, and I’m glad for YouTube so I can dial up the old hits from time to time. I grew to even like Nancy Wilson too. Larry said I would…..

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