17 April 2007

One Good Turntable Deserves Another

Brit makes the common-sense point that Frank Sinatra was the greatest jazz singer of all time, and some people have the audacity to disagree. What Sinatra could do better than any other singer is come up with a phrasing that is both unexpected -- almost unduplicable, even if you've heard Sinatra -- and serves both the lyric and melody perfectly.

The best example of this comes in Frank's arrangement of Cole Porter's "I Get A Kick Out Of You," which is almost unsingable for those of us who have heard Frank but aren't Frank. Unfortunately, I couldn't find Frank's best version on YouTube, but this bowdlerized version (apparently, it wouldn't do to admit that someone might love cocaine) isn't bad:
Frank's phrasing makes the "bore me terrif/ically too" lyric. Try to sing along and you'll never quite make it.

On the other hand, in the "Love and Marriage" rendition linked by Brit, Frank does nothing with the singsong melody, other than keep singing it as steady as a metronome. Only at the end, with the second repetition of "Dad was told ... by Mother" does he have any fun with the phrasing at all.


Brit said...

Agreed. Not liking Sinatra as a singer is like saying "I don't like nice warm sunshine as a form of weather".

There is, it seems, a whole world of turntable-videoing. Yet again, humanity confounds me with its brilliance.

Anonymous said...

Not liking Sinatra as a singer is like saying "I don't like nice warm sunshine as a form of weather".

Aha! Another insight into the conservative character. Thanks, Brit.

Susan's Husband said...

I didn't disagree with the claim that Sinatra was the greatest jazz singer of all time. You are presuming without evidence that there are jazz singers I dislike less.

I find the disdain for "My Way" interesting, because to me that is absolutely archetypical Sinatra. The way that grates on you is the way all of his work grates on me.

But, hey, I'm a (literally) tone deaf engineer who likes Puffy AmiYumi, so perhaps Sinatra's reputation will survive.

joe shropshire said...

He wasn't bad as a youngster, though he was never anywhere near as good as Bing Crosby. And he was never a jazz singer, he was a pop singer. As far as I can figure people talk about his phrasing because he couldn't sing much after about 1950 or so.

Brit said...


No, the point is that My Way doesn't grate when Sinatra sings it - only when anybody else does.

That's why he's the greatest.