Years ago, when I was still mesmerized by Hollywood's constellation of stars, I read a biography on Robert Mitchum. In it he stated, "I'd hate to get into a fight with Sinatra. I might knock him down, but he'd keep getting up 'til one of us got killed." That identification of the crooner's determination is a poignant evaluation of a man's character. At times Life seems little more than a schoolyard bully, bent on knocking you down. What labels your character, however, is what you do once you're lying face down on the playground asphalt. With his art, Sinatra taught: if you keep getting up, you begin to stand for something. That's a creed I adopted early on and continue to live by.
I'm sure I'm coming under fire from those who judge Mr. Sinatra as anything but a spiritual guide. Keep in mind; I'm not condoning the lifestyle he led. I will remember Old Blue Eyes not as the archetypical saloon swinger, but as a man who faced life, tasted life and certainly enjoyed life. His victories were so innumerable, they overshadowed the defeats, but everyone, including the rich and famous, has life challenging moments. Mr. Sinatra faced those moments head on. Through his music, films and life, Sinatra instructed his fans, "Keep getting up!"
Where does Sinatra stand with God? Where is he spending eternity? I have no idea. His lifestyle slants our views. One of his most popular songs, “My Way,” is not what a Christian, well grounded in the Word, would use as a signature. Trust me, after reading eleven books on the man, I'm not naive concerning his darker side. But who knows what's really in a man's heart, especially when he faces his mortality? I can only pray for those who have affected my life, and trust God will show mercy and give insight to anyone who finally searches for spiritual fulfillment. This I did for Mr. Sinatra before his passing. This I do for many people in the media who have touched my life in some way.
As for Sinatra the artist, I will not take this space to express my completely unabashed enthusiasm. What I will do is point out some of his ventures that I believe uplift the spirit as well as make the heart merry. He speaks of love, romance and passion. Just as Mozart, Bernstein and Elvis belong to all generations, so does the Chairman of the Board. He drained the cup dry, then bought the world another round.
Remembering who gave him that talent in the first place:
My Favorite Albums
(I may not be in agreement with every lyric, but I certainly appreciate the style, musical range and storytelling ability)
Sinatra: Nothing But the Best (remastered – excellent sound quality – a must have)
Classic Sinatra: His Great Performances 1953-1960 (Go to track 18 – One For My Baby – oh, man!)
The Very Best of Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra: The Reprise Collection
Frank Sinatra: A Man & His Music
The Concert Sinatra
Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim
Frank Sinatra Greatest Hits Vol 2
Old Man River - Recorded several times; the Nelson Riddle arranged rendition on the album “The Concert Sinatra” best represents his mature versatility.
The Way You Look Tonight - A respectful, loving tribute to his lady fair.
Wave - A perfect example of his skill& flair.
Young At Heart - "You can survive to 105, if your young at heart."
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World - From “Strangers In the Night,” a real barn-burner!
I Concentrate On You - His interpretation, with assistance from Bosa Nova icon Antonio Carlos Jobim, is certainly mood setting
All Or Nothing At All - Recorded many times, I most appreciate his rendering with the Harry James Band, recorded in 1939.
The House I Live In (1946) Always a patriot and equal-rights defender, Mr. Sinatra sums up his love for America.
One For My Baby from the Classic Sinatra: His Great Performances 1953-1960
(It may be his best.)
Take Me Out To The Ballgame (1949) His best musical with Gene Kelly.
The Man With The Golden Arm (1955) Nominated for Best Actor in this dramatic look at how dope can destroy a life.
High Society (1956) No great message, just outstanding songs with Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and one of the most beautiful women ever on the silver screen, Grace Kelly.
Kings Go Forth (1958) Action/romance and a swipe at bigotry. With Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962) A four-star production, proving Sinatra was one of the great, intuitive actors. A superb performance.
Von Ryan's Express (1965) One of my favorite wartime adventures, a first-rate action yarn without any profanity or crudity.