A Short Biography
Frank Sinatra was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century, forging a career as an award-winning singer and film actor.
In the 1940s and 1950s, he had a dazzling array of hit songs and albums and went on to appear in dozens of films, winning a supporting actor Oscar for his role in From Here to Eternity. He left behind a massive catalog of work that includes iconic tunes like “Love and Marriage”, “Strangers in the Night”, “My Way” and “New York, New York”. He died on May 14, 1998, in Los Angeles, California.
In this book we will go on a journey through the great hits of Frank Sinatra.
New York New York – 1977
New York New York, Theme from New York New York actually, was written by Fred Ebb and composed by John Kander for the Martin Scorsese film New York, New York in 1977. In 1979, Frank Sinatra recorded the song for his album Trilogy: Past Present Future. Frank Sinatra sang the song many times in his concerts, and also as a duet with Liza Minnelli in a concert, and with Tony Bennett in his Duets album.
My Way – 1969
This originated as the French song called “Comme D’Habitude” (translation: “As Usual”), written by the composers Jacques Revaux and Gilles Thibault. The French version tells the story of a man, living out the end of his marriage, love killed by the boredom of everyday life.
Paul Anka discovered this song while visiting France and re-wrote the lyrics as “My Way” when he returned to New York. Anka, who was a very popular singer, pitched the song to Frank Sinatra, who recorded it on December 30, 1968. Anka’s lyrics changed the meaning to be about a man looking back fondly on a life he lived on his own terms.
This became Frank Sinatra’s signature song, but he couldn’t stand it, saying he “loathed” the song. In a 2000 interview with the BBC show Hardtalk, Sinatra’s daughter Tina said, “He always thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent. He didn’t like it. That song stuck and he couldn’t get it off his shoe.”
Strangers In the Night – 1966
This song was originally written by Ivo Robic for a music festival in Split, Croatia. English lyrics about love at first sight were written by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder.
Bert Kaempfert rewrote this for the film A Man Could Get Killed, and the song was used as the movie’s theme. It won a Golden Globe Award in 1967 for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture.
This was a big comeback song for Sinatra, becoming his first #1 pop hit in 11 years.
Sinatra ad-libbed the “Dooby dooby doo” closing scat. Iwao Takamoto, the animator who created the cartoon dog Scooby-Doo, said that he got the inspiration to name his character from Sinatra.
The Way You Look Tonight – 1964 (Cover)
“The Way You Look Tonight” is a song from the film Swing Time that was performed by Fred Astaire and composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics written by Dorothy Fields. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936.Fields remarked, “The first time Jerry played that melody for me I went out and started to cry. The release absolutely killed me. I couldn’t stop, it was so beautiful.”
The most popular and imitated version was recorded by Frank Sinatra with the Nelson Riddle orchestra in 1964
Fly Me To The Moon – 1964 (Cover)
“Fly Me to the Moon”, originally titled “In Other Words”, is a song written in 1954 by Bart Howard. Kaye Ballard made the first recording of the song the year it was written.
Frank Sinatra’s 1964 recording of “Fly Me to the Moon” became closely associated with NASA’s Apollo space program. A copy of the song was played on a Sony TC-50 portable cassette player on the Apollo 10 mission which orbited the Moon, and also on Apollo 11 before the first landing on the Moon.
The Sinatra version was also used in the 2000 NASA related fictional film Space Cowboys.
That’s Life – 1966 (Cover)
“That’s Life” is a popular song written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon and first recorded in 1963 by Marion Montgomery. The most famous version is by Frank Sinatra, released on his 1966 album of the same name.
Sinatra had a lot of ups and downs in his personal and professional life, and this song was a great showcase for his spirit and resilience. The phrase “That’s Life” is often used to convey disappointment, but here Sinatra sees all the good things that life brings.
Sinatra sang this with a scowl in his voice that was out of character, but exactly what the song needed. A story circulated that producer Jimmy Bowen told Sinatra, after the recording session, to get out of his car and back in the studio to re-record the vocal, which made Frank very angry and resulted in his edgy vocal.
Entertainment Weekly general editor David Hajdu, who has been writing about Sinatra for the past 20 years said about him:
“If you think of the 20th century as a time when the culture of celebrity introduced a whole wave of new standards and institutions, Frank Sinatra created, pioneered, innovated, refined and mastered every one of them. He was the first teen idol, the first entertainer to recognize the teen market and to address it directly. The root of his appeal during WWII was the eroticism of his singing, which answered a need on the part of women whose boyfriends and husbands had gone overseas during the war. He was the first crossover artist, the first singer who became a major movie star. And he was the first power player in entertainment: He started his own record label and his own film production company.”