At Least A Little In Love

smileThis week is it, everyone. The Sinatra Centennial is officially two days away. This is a time that I’ve been waiting for for years.

And as the big day draws nearer, it’s caused me to think a lot. I’ve always thought that this week would be marked by lots of celebration and it would be a big day. I mean, it’s the Sinatra Centennial!! This day is huge in the world of Frank’s fans.

But, interestingly enough, it hasn’t been anything like I thought it would be.

On the way home from work tonight I listened to Frank. It was wonderful! The thing is, I love Frank Sinatra. I’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan and always will be. But I don’t have to have a party all week this week to prove it or to celebrate it.

There have been concerts, album re-releases, new merchandise, and the suit and hat.jpglist goes on and on and on. And it has been amazing! In the Frank Sinatra world, 2015 has been absolutely great. And this Saturday, December 12, 2015, it will be Frank’s 100th birthday.

I guess you could say, that though I may not have been the best deliverer on this blog, that I’ve still been celebrating. And I hope that all of you have to.

I guess you could say that, looking back on this Centennial year, we’re all at least a little in love.

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?

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

Dino youngDean Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti on June 7, 1917 in Steubenville, Ohio, the son of Italian immigrants. And as if Dean Martin couldn’t get any cooler, the facts about his early life pre-career are incredible!

After dropping out of high school in the 10th grade, Dean’s life took some very interesting turns! He bootlegged liquor, served as a speakeasy croupier, dealt blackjack, worked in a steel mill, and boxed as a welterweight. In the boxing world he dubbed himself “Kid Crochet” and earned a broken nose, which was later straightened, and a lot of bruises.

Giving up boxing moved him on to his position as a croupier in andean in the ring illegal casino, and at the same time began singing with local bands. At this time he called himself Dino Martini after an opera tenor. In the early 1940’s he started singing for band leader Sammy Watkins who suggested that he change his name to Dean Martin.

Dean married his first wife Elizabeth “Betty” Anne McDonald in 1941 and they had four children together.

Although Dean continued to sing in nightclubs and with various bands, he didn’t enjoy the same success as Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra at first. He was yet another name in a world where many singers had the same style, which encouraged him to keep singing with different bands until he developed his own paired with his irresistible charm.

Though Dean didn’t do well when performing in a nightclub in New York just after Frank, it did set the stage for them to meet.

dean and jerryThings didn’t really take off for him until he teamed up with Jerry Lewis. They met at a nightclub in New York and formed a fast friendship which led to a ten year partnership. To this day the antics and laughter which they brought to their audiences are still enjoyed and loved. Though they both moved on to separate careers and lives, it is still very common to hear their names in a sentence together.

Dean and Jerry Lewis did enjoy a lot of success together. But it seems that even after it ended, there was still an entire world waiting for Dean.

This Town

And here we are, with only 14 days left! My excitement has definitely gotten ahead of me and I keep trying to remind myself that there is still some time to wait until Frank Sinatra day, but I feel like a little child at Christmas. (Not that I don’t still act that way at Christmas time, but that’s a different story entirely.) Today, we’ll continue with our narrative of Frank. Yesterday, I shared with you the story of his birth, now we’ll continue on to the teenage years.

Frank knew fairly early on that he wanted to be a singer. It came from watching Bing Crosby perform. I don’t know, of course, exactly what happened in that moment. Perhaps Frank’s blue eyes lit up and he just knew that he would be on that stage someday. Whatever the case, Bing Crosby became Frank’s idol. Growing up close to New York City, Frank had the privilege to mix with a lot of singers and bands as he began making his way into the scene, and he knew great talent when he saw it. When he found somebody with great talent, he knew to learn from them.

Bing Crosby, Frank's idol and later friend.
Bing Crosby, Frank’s idol and later friend.

What is fascinating about Frank’s early obsession with music and musicians alike is that it never waned. Even being a teenager, Frank always knew that he wanted to be a singer. Frank dropped out of high school, where he was a member of the glee club, to begin singing. His mother Dolly was good to support him in that dream, too. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, the family was able to do well because of Dolly’s heavy involvement with the local Democratic party. She was able to find work for her husband and Frank, too for that matter. When he wasn’t working on the docks, he was working on his singing and wearing a cap like Bing Crosby.

The beginnings of his career with the Hoboken Four and the Tommy Dorsey band didn’t happen for Frank until his twenties, but his teenage years were definitely influential for him. They were the birth and nourishment of a dream. At this point, he may have just been Frankie, the skinny kid next door. But he was coming.