Sunday, December 13, 2015

30 Days of The Fade Out: Sinatra at 100 Years and 1 Day.

The Fade Out #4 briefly mentions Frank Sinatra -- Ol' Blue Eyes, The Chairman of the Board, The Voice -- and yesterday happens to be the centenary of Sinatra's birth, December 12th, 1915.  In the fictional world of the comic, actress Ava Gardner had just broken up with Victory Pictures' young heartthrob (and closeted homosexual) Tyler Graves, to start "running around with Sinatra."

In real life, Gardner was already twice divorced by 1948, from actor Mickey Rooney and bandleader Artie Shaw, the latter of whom had previously divorced Lana Turner.  (It's not too different than high school, is it?)  She was later married to Frank Sinatra from 1951 to 1957, who ended his first marriage for her, but -- while his earlier adulterous behavior had become common knowledge -- I'm not actually sure if he was having an affair with Gardner as early as 1948, the year of his third child's birth.

I trust Ed Brubaker's research, and, even as early as 1948, their affair might have been a poorly hidden secret in Hollywood circles.

Still, Sinatra wasn't known primarily for his affairs.  All year, the prolific Mark Steyn has been posting fascinating essays about 100 songs that Sinatra made his own, and he celebrates the centenary with a wide-ranging look at Sinatra with reprinted essays and audio specials.

Having parted with Tommy Dorsey's band in 1942, Sinatra's first two solo albums, released through Columbia Records, reached #1 and #2 in the US, and by the end of 1948, he had already released more than 50(!) top-forty singles just as a solo artist.

To set the mood for The Fade Out, one could do worse than listen to "All of Me," and the audio below was evidently recorded in 1947.  Less familiar than the Nelson Riddle arrangement for 1954's album Swing Easy!, the arrangement by George Siravo  evidently reached #21 in 1948, and Steyn goes into some detail documenting Sinatra's takes on the jazz standard, including this recording.

"The band's great, particularly Clyde Hurley's trumpet. And the second chorus is a kind of duet between Sinatra and Babe Russin, whose tenor sax seems to be egging Frank on to really let rip. And it dawns on you that it's the perfect Sinatra song: he was cocksure and swaggering, but also the first male singer to project, seriously, vulnerability and loneliness and heartache. Hence, 'All Of Me': a song for the swaggeringly vulnerable, for cocksuredness as a defense against heartache."
Swaggering vulnerability:  it's an attitude you're sure to find in the backlots and nightclubs of The Fade Out.

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