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     The Voice was pure and pitch perfect.  His stage presence was always the best.  He knew when to breath and when not to, when to hold back and when to move ahead of the beat, and when to bridge the lines and phrases–anything to WOW the audience.  He had that innate instinct for the truth of the lyrics and the uncanny ability to implant the emotions of those lyrics into the listener’s mind.  The audiences loved Frank Sinatra.

     His biographer wrote, “He almost always knows exactly what songs are right for his voice, for his moood, for his life at the time.”  Sinatra had a way, particularly with ballads, of using his own experiences to get at a song’s emotional core.  Jeanne Martin, Dean’s ex-wife, said, “Frank’s taste was exquisite.  He only sang the great songs from the great writers.  Dean didn’t want that.  Dean just wanted to be funny.  Frank lived for the music.”

     So he sang the superior songs like, “Strangers in the Night”, “All the Way”, “That’s Life”, “It Was a Very Good Year”, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, “New York, New York”, and then the big hit–“My Way”, which became his signature song.

     In the late 30’s and the 40’s Frank sang with the big bands–first with Harry James and then with Tommy Dorsey.  In 1939 Harry James told one inquiring reporter, “The kid’s name is Sinatra.  He considers himself the greatest voice in the business.  Get that!  No one’s ever heard of him.  He’s never had a hit record.  he looks like a wet rag.  But he says he is the greatest.”  This kid eventually went solo and left Harry James and Tommy Dorsey and the other big band leaders far behind as he achieved extraordinary stardom and wealth in music and film.

     Besides being born with sizeable musical talent, Frank was a man of passion, the kind of guy who refused to just let life pass him by.  He had the courage to take on the world in the way he did.  His biographer wrote, “He truly lived his life with passion, for the sake of passion.  In search of it.  In the moment of it.  All of it.”

      The passion pushed him high, but to those around him who supported him and helped him, he could be so petty, unforgiving, and trivial.  Constantly he used people and then tossed them aside, especially the wives and the countless number of women.  He was all passion and very little prudence.

     He grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, the only son of Martin and Dolly Sinatra.  He quit high school at age 16, and to placate his father went to work in the shipyards.  He quit that to pursue a singing career.  He quit the Hoboken Four, just on the verge of success.  His father Marty called him a quitter, and repeatedly for years afterwords shouted that demoralizing name at him again and again: quitter.  And whenever his life took a different direction, his mother would say, “You ready to go to work now, Mr. Smarty Pants?  Mr. Big-Shot Singer.  So, you a star yet?”  The pain of his parent’s ridicule stuck with him all his life and drove him on to new heights.  “My dad stepped on my dream,” he said years later.

     Frank was totally determined to show them and everyone else that he was the best and that he would become the biggest star ever.  When it happened, his attitude was, “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you all along.” 

     “And now, the end is near; And so I face the final curtain.  My friend, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.  I’ve lived a life that’s full.  I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway; But, more, much more than this, I did it my way.”


      No single American could sing that song with as much true meaning as did Frank Sinatra.  One year ago, on May 14th, he died of a heart attack in Los Angeles.