All The Way

frankI’ll never forget the moment that I saw my very first Frank Sinatra record.

I was in Birmingham, Alabama, at the National Speech and Debate competition with my coach and two team members. We’d just gotten breakfast in this great little restaurant in Birmingham and saw an old record shop near where we’d parked. Naturally, there was no choice but to go inside.

It was up a narrow flight of wooden stairs, located in a tiny little room stuffed to the roof with records. Old movie posters covered the walls, tables and tables were filled with every record imaginable. The floor was covered in a thin carpet. Morning sunlight streamed through the windows and the air, of course, smelled slightly damp in the summer humidity. The shop had an old smell, and of course some music was playing from the corner.

I found the Frank records as soon as I possibly could, and purchased three, along with a Dean Martin record. For the rest of the trip in Birmingham they were my precious little find. I wrapped them carefully in my suitcase and prayed they would be safe on the trip back across the country.

And even more than that moment of finding the records in Birmingham, a moment where the sunlight streaming through the windows reflected off of the records like they were gold, is the moment when I got home and turned one on.

The very first song that I ever heard Frank Sinatra sing on a record player was “All the Way.”

I’d listened to Frank nonstop for years, but I’d never heard him on an actual record player until that very moment. My mom placed the needle on the record, and sound came out of the record player as if by magic. And then, in that really close yet somehow faraway and incredibly clear sound that a record player makes, he began singing.

“When somebody loves you, it’s no good unless he loves you all the way…taller than the tallest tree is, that’s how it’s got tofrankie feel. Deeper than the deep blue sea is, that’s how deep it goes if it’s real.”

I couldn’t help myself. I put my head in my hands and started crying. It’s been a while since I posted anything about Frank Sinatra, but most of you know that I’m a pretty big admirer of his. And when I heard that sound for the first time, it just got to me in a way I hadn’t expected.

Tonight I’m thinking about that experience, about how it felt. And it makes me grateful for beautiful things, and precious moments. For special things that tug at your heart and make you feel that deeply.

“Who knows where the road will lead us

Only a fool would say

But if you let me love you

It’s for sure I’m gonna love you, all the way…”

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Pocket Full Of Miracles

10 days! 10 days! 10 days! Yes, there are only 10 days left until Frank Sinatra Day! For me, this countdown has been extremely fun so far, telling you the (condensed) story of Frank’s life. Last night we visited a serious time in Frank’s life, and delved a little deeper into the controversy. Tonight we’ll be visiting the comeback in all of it’s glory.

Frank backstage right after he won Best Supporting Actor for his role as Angelo Maggio in the 1953 film of the year From Here to Eternity.
Frank backstage right after he won Best Supporting Actor for his role as Angelo Maggio in the 1953 film of the year From Here to Eternity.

Well, it happened with Frank’s role as Angelo Maggio in From Here to Eternity, Frank won an Academy Award of Best Supporting Actor for this role and with that his career shot forward once again. He was making movies again, he was recording again. In fact, the string of records he made after his comeback were more successful than any of the previous ones had been. This was huge, of course, because one of the main reasons that Frank’s career had declined in the first place was due to a vocal cord hemorrhage. In 1951, right before the drop of his career, his vocal cords hemorrhaged on stage and from there he carried great doubt that he would ever be able to sing again. Well, not only could he still sing, but many argued that his voice sounded better.

Frank was back! And even more successful than before it seemed. At the point when his career shot back to the top, Frank and Ava Gardner were still married but having major problems with their marriage. With his divorce from Ava Gardner in 1957, he began one of the longest bachelor periods of his life. All may have not been perfectly rose colored, but there were wonderful things happening to Frank. The 1950’s as a whole were very good to him career wise, and he had endless amounts of success both in the studio and on the big screen.

Frank in the 1958 film Some Came Running, a drama which exposed the controversy of 1950's America.
Frank in the 1958 film Some Came Running, a drama which exposed the controversy of 1950’s America.

He was in movies like The Man With The Golden Arm (1955), a movie about a drug addict which almost won him another Oscar, and Some Came Running (1958), a very serious movie which exposed the controversy of small-town America. It was the first movie that he ever worked on with Dean Martin. Music wise, Frank came out with seven new records from 1954 to the end of the 50’s, and each of them were smashing successes which shaped Frank into the musical icon that we know today. On top of all that, he formed his own record label. It seemed that he was untouchable, when only a few years before he had been penniless and without a career. Frank was definitely back in the neighborhood, and back in the penthouse, too.

It reminds me of a story from his early career when he was brought into a venue he’d be singing at. He is reported to have said, “You’d better push the walls of this joint out. I’m gonna pack ’em.” It was never more true than after the comeback.