Sunday, 13 December 2015

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF FRANK SINATRA

It makes you think. I grew up on the maestro's music - my parents were (are) die-hard fans. I interviewed Ol' Blue Eyes in LA - twice - and spent time with his widow, Barbara Marx. I got to know his daughter, Nancy, when I lived with Raquel Welch in Beverly Hills - 'Boots' was her best mate. Only after his death, when I was researching Ava Gardner, did I realise I'd known barely the first thing about him.
What we knew was the Sinatra myth, the legend. What we didn't want to know was what got him there. We certainly didn't want to hear about his backstreet-abortionist mother, nor the hell through which she dragged him - which accounts, at least in part, for who he became. Perhaps most telling was that night in Elaine's, New York - the night that Frank, on being introduced to Mario Puzo, author of 'The Godfather', refused to shake his hand.
A recent survey on the kind of music played at funerals revealed that traditional hymns are now chosen by fewer than 35%, while pop songs have soared to an 'incredible' 58%. It 'devalues human life', declared one commentator about the survey, to take one's final, shortest journey on earth to the accompaniment of music from popular culture.
Why so? Why not pop our clogs to popular music, if that's the way we lived?
Unsurprisingly, the song most played at funerals these days is Sinatra's 'My Way'. What's so bad about that? Whatever turns you off.
My friends and I have spent countless happy moments dancing round the kitchen to 'New York, New York'. I've certainly slated that one for my own funeral - along with Cockney Rebel's 'Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me). performed live. Every time I see Steve Harley, he asks me if I've got a date. Clearly I have. I just don't know it yet.

Thank you for the music, Francis Albert. For better or worse, way to go.

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