Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Do you like Frank Sinatra?"

This was a surprise question, coming as it did from the employee of a service that dropped a car off to me this last week. About all I could do was stutter a bit and say "who doesn't?"

It turns out he asked because the car he left me has a satellite radio receiver and, lo and behold, there is a "Sinatra Channel." Being a fan himself, he had set it on the dial....

At first, I kinda dug it. The initial cuts were from some of my favorite sessions. Then, it got weird.

Part of the time, it is hosted by someone who seems to be Sinatra's granddaughter. Lots of dim patter about keeping the memory of "the greatest entertainer in history" alive, and then some tunes.

Not all, I hasten to add, featuring ol' Blue Eyes himself. Some were from people I suspect he did not -- or would not -- particularly care for. Not all singers are good, even when backed up by fine bands.

Yes, there were some Nat Cole sides, some from Tony Bennett, even Linda Ronstadt from her great sessions singing standards backed by the best in arrangements (from Nelson Riddle, who did a lot of fantastic work with Frank as well) and top musicians.

And not all Sinatra is good. Some of his last recordings made me cringe when I first heard them, and still do. The voice was going, and his producers were feeding him some awful material to sing. There were some hack pop things from the 60s and 70s that probably wowed the citizens in Vegas and even a couple of not-so inspiring unreleased tunes, such as Frank singing the forgettable theme song to a forgettable move (which, alas, I once saw) called "They Came to Cordura."

Nonetheless, the "Sinatra Channel" was playing them all.

It got to be a real letdown, Jim.

Finally, I shut it off.

When you have to fill a 24/7/365 block of airspace, you can't be all that selective. Pound on a theme long enough, and the magic is seriously depleted.

I'll stick to regular but controlled doses of Sinatra, thank you.

So much for satellite radio. Thank goodness there's a CD changer in the system too.


HAR said...

Lurking around. I enjoy your posts.

Satellite radio really is great. There are many different channels. Just change Frank when he starts getting weird. You can always find some real jazz on satellite.

John said...

When I flip over to comments in IE it goes into an endless loop. Had to switch to firefox.
I noticed on satellite radio when I've had access to it, that it pays to switch around. The theme channels get old quickly.
I thought I was picking up a cd of Sinatra classics not long ago at a second hand place. I wasted $2 on what turned out to be something like a muzak version. They just used his likeness and name to sucker people like me.

Anonymous said...

My favorite Sinatra song is "Fly me to the moon," there is a bit of humor and fun in it....
a bit up tempo...
No, his covers are not always my faves...I really prefer tony bennet most of the time!