Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Song Selection: Frank Sinatra – What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life

“I want to see your face in every kind of light
In fields of gold and forest of the night
And when you stand before the candles on a cake
Oh, let me be the one to hear the silent wish you make”

Since the last “… and several butcher’s aprons” post leaned, oh so slightly, to the cynical, sarcastic and somewhat spiteful, we return to the “Saturday Song Selection” series with, if I may borrow an over-used phrase from those who gave our blog its very title, “something completely different,” a mood change as dramatic as Mitt’s policy shifts from Monday to Tuesday and an opening sentence as lengthy as his list of lies. This Saturday, June 16th, nycityman gets sentimental, soft, schmaltzy and sappy, with a lump in his throat and perhaps even a tear brought to the eye and a wish that you may similarly react. Feel no embarrassment if you do, for it was Frank Sinatra with his raw, sensitive and vulnerable interpretation of ballads, particularly songs of heart break and regret, who showed that it was okay for a tough-guy to cry. After his meteoric rise and early big band, bobbysoxer period idolatry, Sinatra suffered a time of both professional and personal decline and turmoil, climaxing in the end of his marriage to Ava Gardner. Listen to the material he released after this period and you hear a singer who had matured into an artist, and one who openly expressed and exposed his emotions and experiences. 

“What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” was recorded in 1974. In Frank’s “summer, winter, spring and fall” of his life, he was decidely autumnal, for although he would continue to perform for over 20 more years, that voice had seen a lot of life and was no longer quite as powerful or pristine, nor were the performances as consistent. But I have a particular fondness and emotional attachment to this period and the years that followed, as this was the Sinatra era I would get to experience live, and even if a note was a soupçon uncertain, what remained unadulterated and untainted by time, cigarettes, or Jack Daniels was the evocation, the poignancy and passion, the life behind the song.  Seeing Sinatra in concert was permanently an event, no matter the actual number of times in attendance, each was a singular and memorable occurrence.  In the twilight of his journey you realized you were seeing history.

With lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, music by the wonderful French composer Michel Legrand  and an arrangement by frequent Sinatra collaborator, Don Costa, “What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” is a true highlight of the latter part of Sinatra’s career – a moving, evocative, emotional performance from an expressive voice.  However one must point out that his recent habit of holding, twisting and exaggerating the ‘I” sound, as In “night” and “light” ending each with an overemphasis on the “t” – I suppose the spelling would be something akin to“lyeeett”- a staple to impressionists from this day forward, is certainly fully on display in this track. I myself find it quite enjoyable to do when indulging in the fine and respected art of karaoke, and think of it as a humble, reverential homage.
The composer, Michel Legrand has written over 200 film and TV scores, received every conceivable honor and award in the international music industry, and is known in the United States for such songs as the theme from “Brian’s Song,” the Oscar winning “Windmills of Your Mind,” “I Will Wait for You,” “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” and today’s presentation. It certainly seems imperative that Monsieur Legrand must be the subject of a future Saturday Song Selection - tout de suite.

Saturday, June 16th Birthdays

1993 Alice Ann Newman – Today Randy Newman’s daughter turns 19. I post that simple fact purely to posit the question – why would I possibly know that?

1987 Abby Elliott – Third generation in a comedy family, Abby’s dad is Chris Elliott and her grandfather was the Bob half of Bob and Ray, legendary, incomparable and droll (yes, I said droll) radio comedy team. I feel a slight affection for this clan, as I saw Bob live at Carnegie Hall. I worked with Chris once, and I’ve recently seen Abby wearing naught but a smile and fortuitously placed soap bubbles in Maxim magazine.  There, Abby, you wanted attention, you got attention! Now go put some clothes on. What would your grandfather think?

1938 Joyce Carol Oates – I have to admit, Joyce Carol Oates has been included in a mistakenly vain attempt to try and present nycityman and this blog as learned and classy. I, along with everyone associated with “… in several butcher’s aprons,” blogspot, and the entire world wide web across this great globe of ours, sincerely apologizes and we will attempt to return to our television and pop culture references as rapidly as is humanly possible.

1937 Erich Segal – Love means never having to make but the most obvious joke.

1936 Fred Oster - Dutch Television host – see earlier entry: Alice Ann Newman

1907 Jack Albertson this man he ain't so hard to understand. Chico, if you try now, I know that you can lend a helping hand. But much more significantly, Jack Albertson was the postal employee in “A Miracle on 34th St” who, in a glorious display of the lethargy and slothfulness of the government employee and the fabled corruption and inefficiency of government agencies, reroutes all the “Dear Santa” letters to the courthouse where Kris Kringle is on trial for mental instability, and thereby saves our most beloved of holidays and rescues Santa from a lifetime of institutionalization -. and remember, Mr. Claus’ lifetime is multiple hundreds of years.

1890 Stan Laurel - brilliant, beloved, immortal – if only kids today would watch black and white. What’s to say about one half of arguably the greatest comedy duo in film history – and not really arguably? Just enjoy the clip below from the Laurel and Hardy classic, “Way out West.”

But first, Frank Sinatra, “What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”