I’ve Got You Under My Skin

There is, quite simply, no way around it. I’ve thought about it under my skinendlessly. I’ve gone different routes and attempted to dissect it. All to no avail. I can’t figure it out, and probably never will. If I’d known in the beginning that this would end up happening…I’d probably still do it all the same.

I am not alone in this feeling of mine. Not at all. In fact, it has been the plague of Sinatra fans since the beginning of his career. The dilemma is this: we find ourselves drawn to Frank. There was always, and still is, something about him that got at you. There was something about him that got under your skin and wouldn’t leave, something that makes you keep coming back and listening to the music over and over again. In her book about their life together, Frank’s wife Barbara talks often about his incredible magnetism. How people just couldn’t seem to get away. There is only one way I’ve ever heard this accurately explained, and it is this: He’s Frank Sinatra.

During the height of his career, and perhaps even more since Frank passed away, we’ve been trying to figure out why people flocked to him. What is it about Frank Sinatra that just gets at you? Is it the fact that he started a young immigrant boy from New Jersey and ended a legend? Is it that, even after all the books and articles and the endless things you can find about him, there is always an element of mystery? It always seems that no matter how much you think you know about him, you really don’t know anything at all.

I’m far from being able to answer this question with any kind of authority. All I can say about it is from my own personal experience, and I’ve had these exact thoughts so many times. Each time I meet somebody new and tell them how much I love Frank, I get the same question every time. “Oh, why Frank Sinatra?”

frankThe fact that I can never really come up with anything to say makes me realize that I am in this same boat as everybody else. I can really only say as an answer, “What do you mean? Why not?” Because it is something so intangible, I doubt that all of us philosophizing about it will get us anywhere. There is no answer, it is just the way it is. He is wonderful because he is Frank Sinatra. His music and movies are phenomenal because, no matter what, he gets under your skin. And on top of all of that, he does it with class.

I’ve got you under my skin.
I’ve got you deep in the heart of me.
So deep in my heart that you’re really a part of me.
I’ve got you under my skin.
I’d tried so not to give in.
I said to myself: this affair never will go so well.
But why should I try to resist when, baby, I know so well
I’ve got you under my skin?

South Of The Border

Happy August everyone!

Technically, I am not south of the border, but I am a lot further south than I am used to being. So I thought that this song title would work particularly well for this post. I’m going to warn all of you right now that I don’t know what these while-I’m-away posts are going to be like. I’m kind of down to crunch time over here, and so just bear with me. Just know that whatever ends up happening is the best I could do.

That being said, it’s time for a fun fact!

On January 26, 1980, Frank finally made his way to Brazil to perform at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The people there had been waiting such a long time for him to come that the performance holds a world record for attendance. In her book about their life together, Frank’s wife Barbara talks about this performance and describes the tears in Frank’s eyes from the love that the people showed him while he was there.

Softly As I Leave You

And here we are with only 6 more days left! Less than one week until Frank Sinatra Day, everyone! Because today marks the last day of our narrative, I just want to say that it has been extremely fun for me to give you the condensed version of Frank’s life. It has tested my knowledge a little, though I will proudly say that I only had to do research perhaps two or three times just to check specific years. Everything else I knew from heart. And so, let’s begin.

Frank at his 80th birthday party.
Frank at his 80th birthday party.

By the 1990’s Frank was in his late 70’s and early 80’s and was largely retired. He made his last movie and television appearances in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. His last public singing performance was at his 80th birthday party. It was  a huge party where many, many stars showed up to pay their respects to Frank and his amazing career, the empire state building was lit up in blue. He sang My Way.

At this point, almost everybody that Frank had known and loved had already passed on. In her autobiography, Barbara talks about the last few years of Frank’s life and it seems almost sad. He would look around the empty house with those blue eyes of his and say things like, “This place ain’t doing to good for a hotel.” But honestly, I think you have to look past that. Frank had lived an amazing life and had so many wonderful memories. He had a wonderful wife that stayed by him every step of the way for 27 years, if you include their five years of courtship as well as 22 years of marriage.  As the last one of all of his friends to pass away, he got to be the one to remember. One of Frank’s most well known quotes is, “I would like to be remembered as a man who had a wonderful time living life, a man who had good friends, fine family – and I don’t think I could ask for anything more than that, actually.” 

On May 13, 1998 at the age of 82, Frank was rushed to the hospital. Barbara wasn’t with him at the time, ironically enough, but made it to the hospital in time to say good-bye. It had been obvious that Frank’s time was coming, but it still seemed rather sudden. The funeral was huge. Their were sky banners and, and special permission was even given by President Clinton to put a flag on Frank’s casket in the private ceremony. Barbara also talks about this in her book. Frank had loved his country so much, and had such an amazing respect for it. However, he had not been a soldier and he knew it. Barbara wasn’t sure that Frank would’ve wanted that honor because of that. Nevertheless, he was given that honor and the world said a last farewell the the man whose career had so touched everybody’s life in so many ways.  It was absolutely clear that Frank Sinatra would always live on.

And now, the end is near;e48e1c8b1be1156ea6333439ddf4a152
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I’ll say it clear,
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.

I’ve lived a life that’s full.
I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway;
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.222ffc153d49a6cba7fc520b2174dd0e

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried.
I’ve had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;
And may I say – not in a shy way,
“No, oh no not me,
I did it my way”.

For what is a man, what has he got?45f28acca79c9129c469bab8213a3cae
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows –
And did it my way!

 

It Was A Very Good Year

One week, everyone! Yes, yes! 7 more days until the magical day! And as such, today we continue our narrative of Frank’s life.

ed77214e0ef0f6d175177ea9ddb462a1Yesterday we visited the 1970’s and Frank’s marriage to Barbara Marx. We talked about their travels and the people the met, how the entire world was before them. The 1980’s are interesting in Frank’s life because they were very much the same as the 1970’s were. Frank was in his late sixties and early seventies in the 1980’s, but that didn’t stop him from being who he was. When listening to his music, you can definitely tell when it was recorded in his life, whether he was younger or older. But that doesn’t change the voice itself. It is always Frank.

Frank’s life may have been winding down a little bit in the 1980’s, especially as they got closer to the 90’s, but that never changed his popularity or who he was. Because, of course, when you’re Frank Sinatra that doesn’t really happen. He had reached an age where he was still working but he was a living legend. He’d reached a point where he could look back and think of his life, as the song says, as vintage wine from fine old kegs. 1980 was when he recorded and released the theme from New York, New York and it became a signature almost immediately. It had definitely been a very good year. And things were far from over for him at this point. He was still touring and traveling and Barbara was still at his side. It seemed that the best was yet to come.

The World We Knew

Happy Monday! And since it is a Monday and the beginning of the week, what better way to make your life a beautiful ray of glorious sunshine than to continue our countdown? Because, that’s right, we have only 8 more days to go!!

Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back came out in 1973 and was a massive success.
Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back came out in 1973 and was a massive success.

Yesterday we talked about the fabulous 1960’s and Frank’s massive success. Today we’ll be moving on to the 1970’s. The 1970’s were a very interesting time in Frank’s life, and that’s really the only way I can describe it honestly. In 1970, at the age of 55, Frank announced to the world that he was ready to retire after 36 years in show business. He did his last recordings, and one last show, and with that he left the stage. It seems though, that even Frank knew it wouldn’t last. When you are as huge and iconic as that, I guess that you never really retire. Frank realized that he missed it, and that perhaps he wasn’t ready to retire after all. That’s why, only a few years later in 1973, Frank came out with a brand new album entitled Ol’ Blue Eyes is Back. It was received very, very well, of course. A critic even wrote something along the lines of, “We thought that we were done writing love letters to Frank Sinatra, but here we go again…” The album quickly reached gold status.

The 1970’s and 1980’s were when Frank began touring much more than he’d ever done before, and I think it was a wonderful thing for the world. It was also when Barbara Marx came into his life, and with that we’ve got an absolutely wonderful love story.

Frank and Barbara on their wedding day in 1976.
Frank and Barbara on their wedding day in 1976.

Barbara was married to Zeppo Marx when she met Frank, they were neighbors across the gold course in Palm Springs. Barbara was 26 years younger than her husband. In her autobiography My Life With Frank, she talks about her marriage to Zeppo. She truly loved him, and he had been her knight in shining armor in so many ways. She had a son from a previous marriage and had carted him all over trying to make a life for them. I’ll tell you that I don’t necessarily agree with how their marriage ended and everything, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, at the end of the day it isn’t really my job to talk about it that way. None of us will ever know the whole truth about what happened. But nevertheless, Frank and Barbara began a relationship. She traveled the world with him and was basically his constant companion. After five years, they were finally married in 1976.

Their wedding day marked the beginning of a 22 year marriage. Reading Barbara’s autobiography, you cannot help but be touched by their story. She talks about how much she loved Frank and what it was like to be his wife. Barbara basically never left Frank’s side. Many though that she was just a gold digger because she was 14 years younger than Frank, but it is clear that this wasn’t the case. Going past all of the controversy, though, the life they lived was in incredible one. Frank’s song Nothing But the Best talks about going traveling and dining with kings. Well, that was exactly what he and Barbara did. The world was before them on a red carpet, it seemed. Every summer they visited Monaco and stayed with Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. Not only did Frank continue to have massive amounts of success worldwide, but life was full of traveling and meeting kings and queens. And of course, a beautiful love story.