SINATRA! THE SONG IS YOU: A Singer's Art by Will Friedwald


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An adoring—and at times vexingly detailed—look at one of pop music's most enduring and controversial icons. Friedwald (Jazz Singing, 1990) has collected enormous amounts of information on "The Voice's" career: interviews with Sinatra peers, discographic background, and an intimate familiarity with the entire Sinatra canon. Sorting all this information is a challenge at which Friedwald only partially succeeds. Most events and analyses of songs are treated in chronological order; Sinatra's various arrangers define phases of the singer's career, as evidenced in chapter titles such as "With Axel Stordahl, 1943-1948." Friedwald is at his best when describing, with some technical depth, how a particular arranger colored Sinatra's music. Musicians will appreciate the author's informed appraisals, while lay listeners will glean enough not to get lost. Arrangers are often unsung heroes, and Friedwald gives greats like Nelson Riddle and Gordon Jenkins their due. And many of the small details included will fascinate Sinatra fans: "Fly Me to the Moon," for example, was the first music ever heard on the moon. However, at times Friedwald waxes on as if he were one of Frank's bobby-soxer fans, heaping praise on each syllable of Sinatra's phrasing and slowing the narrative turntable to a nauseating 16 rpms. The author's starry eyes miss much of Sinatra's bad behavior. And when he does recount some notorious outbursts, such as his punching out columnist Lee Mortimer in 1947 or calling an Australian journalist a whore in 1974, the author makes excuses for his hero. Reputed mob connections are only briefly alluded to. Sinatra! will appeal to those already under the master singer's spell but will probably not enlighten those with only a passing interest in or Blue Eyes—the book reveals its subject without transcending it.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0306807424
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: Scribner