Tuesday, January 26, 2010

rat pack ukulele

"Come fly with me."

Did Frank Sinatra do a version of "All of Me"? If he did I'm working up a regular little Sinatra song book for the ukulele. It's not something I'm doing on purpose. Sinatra songs just present themselves. A few weeks ago I was fooling with some fumbling attempts at jazz chords when I realized I was playing the chords to "The Lady Is A Tramp." A while later I was noodling around with the C scale and figured out the melody to "Someone To Watch Over Me". Just today I got sent a file of sheet music for "All of Me".

My parents listened to that Rat Pack stuff when I was growing up. A lot of it really makes me feel creepy. I cannot stand to listen to the Rat Pack Christmas Album. It makes my skin crawl. I feel like I'm growing a new relationship with those old standards. Now I can even listen to Sinatra.

My parents listened to WNEW in New York. We always listened to the William B. Williams "Make Believe Ballroom Time" show. Williams always announced Sinatra with the words, "The chairman of the board. Mr. Francis Albert Sinatra..."

I never thought I'd post a Sinatra song here.

Someone To Watch Over Me- Frank Sinatra (Buy)


ish said...

I have a love-hate relationship with Sinatra. He had a great voice, and really new how to work a song.

But I agree with you about that creepy feeling. It's everything about the era of our childhood that seemed worth rebelling against. I've found a handful of his songs I really love, but I'm always watching out for that smarminess.

One Sinatra song really sums it up: Luck Be Lady Tonight. He really swings this song, but it's also full of a swaggering misogyny that makes my skin crawl. He spits these lyrics out like he is slapping the crap out of somebody:

"A lady dosen't leave her escort
It isn't fair, it isn't nice
A lady doesn't wander all over the room
And blow on some other guys dice"

He has by then stopped singing about Lady Luck, I believe! It's prolly on youtube if you haven't heard it.

Jon said...

Well put Ian. The Rat Packer I can most easily tolerate is Tony Bennett. He didn't pick his songs as well as Sinatra and he didn't have the benefit of Nelson Riddle's arrangements but he comes across as more generous and open hearted. For all of his smoothness, Sinatra comes across as a mean sonofabitch.

ish said...

Mean. That IS the perfect word for him!

Birdsong said...

I think Frank Sinatra did the definitive version of All of Me.

I used to share the feeling that Frank Sinatra belonged to our parents' generation and wanted nothing to do with him. (I really enjoyed your reference to Make Believe Ballroom - brought back memories.)

But, one of my dear gay male friends took me out to see him in concert in the late 70's. I'll always be grateful for that experience. Frankie was getting on in years, but he put on a great show.

Then, my first husband (like Sinatra an Italian-American from Hoboken) wooed me with Nice and Easy.

Someone to Watch Over Me is lovely, more vulnerable than his meanness usually gets. (Your link didn't work for me so I went to YouTube.) Frankie's in touch with his feminine side there.

I'm anxious to hear more about The Sinatra Project/Ukulele Version. But does that mean you are going to get smooth, Jon? Or mean?

Jon said...

Funny the link didn't work for you Laura, because I'm listening to it right now. Try again.

Jon said...

Smooth, definitely.

Birdsong said...

The "play" option is giving me an error on all of your song links today - in the past it just played. But if I choose the "download" option the songs go right into ITunes and I can listen and apparently keep the songs for free. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

'My parents listened to that Rat Pack stuff when I was growing up. A lot of it really makes me feel creepy. I cannot stand to listen to the Rat Pack Christmas Album. It makes my skin crawl.'

ha ha ha...love it Jon...i'll stick with Johnny Winter and my uke music ;)

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Frank was a union guy. He paved the way for Elvis. Elvis paved the way for Don Ho. Don Ho paved the way for getting drunk in a bar listening to Don Ho, hoping your date was hoping to coax some tiny bubbles out of your ding-dong. Frank is alright.

Jon said...

Frank was a union guy, but he followed Fitzimmons and his crowd when the Teamsters leadership threw in with Nixon. Hoffa was no saint. In fact, he was a goddam villain but he was our villain. You can have Fitz, Nixon, Frank and Don Ho. I'll take Hoffa, Kennedy, Tony Bennett and Sol Hoopii.

D. Jon Moutarde said...

Hi. Long-time listener, first-time caller.

Old joke.

I'm a uker, too, but with a love-hate relationship with jazz chords. Sometimes they are the only things that will work; all of the time, they are a total pain in the neck on a 4-string instrument. "Someone To Watch Over Me" is one of my favorite standards, but I've never thought much about learning it because of jazz chords. Last Christmas, though, I was given a trumpet -- and now, that song is my first priority. So soulful.

I think you guys are confusing Sinatra's native chauvanism and frequent drunkeness with the attitudes expressed in the lyrics which he performed, which often conformed to a popular expectation of show-biz bravado.

In other words, Sinatra could be a jerk in real life, but when he sang, he brought out the essense of the song, without prejudice. If the song was good and pure, that's what he sang. If it was not-so-much, he sang that too. I'm not sure if I ever heard him sing anything that was outright evil.

Jon said...

Damn there D. Jon, that's a nice blog you've got going. I think some of the meanness I and the commenters hear in Sinatra has to do with childhood and the meanness of men back then. Men were just plain expected and permitted to be mean and chickenshit. Maybe it was just Sinatra singing to his audience.

I don't know shit about jazz chords. I don't know enough theory. Sometimes, when I can't figure something out, I just try putting my fingers here and there on the fret board until I hear something close to what I'm trying to play. It's fun and all, but sometimes I wish I knew an easier way.

By the way. I saw your link to Red Shoes Rodeo. I used to love that show. Last few years, every time I try and listen to it, she has given away her airtime and there will be someone else playing music that I don't like nearly as well. I finally gave up. Is Red Shoes Rodeo still on?

D. Jon Moutarde said...

Michele is on WEEKLY, now, as of a couple-three weeks ago. Tune in if you can (Comcast carries it on cable TV) -- she is just about the best there is in her time-slot and location. Of course, I am madly in love with her...

By the way, I grew up in Santa Rosa and rode the bus line you worked for for many years, thoughout the 1970s. I reckon you were my driver on many occasions -- I often took that line to Junior College and San Francisco for concerts at Winterland.

Jon said...

D Jon, I didn't go to work for the district until 1988. I spent the '70's wandering back and forth between the West Coast and the Midwest. Good news about Michelle's show. I'm in love with her too. I knew some one who worked for her for a while. My friend talked about her like some kind of dragon lady. I think she might have been a little too intense for my friend, who was young at the time. I'll be listening on Friday.

D. Jon Moutarde said...

Well, we probably crossed paths somewhere, anyway. I lived in Toronto in '79, Detroit in '80, Lawrence, KS from '8o-'82, and various episodes in Columbus and Minneapolis. San Francisco since '82. Cheers!

PS: Don't let anyone tell you anything about Michele... she is one of a kind.

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