“To Sinatra, a microphone is as real as a girl waiting to be kissed,” E.B. White observed in The New Yorker in 1952. Frank Sinatra had not yet reached his peak as an artist and was at a professional low point: That same year, Hollywood agent Irving “Swifty” Lazar would call him “a dead man,” noting, “Even Jesus couldn’t get resurrected in this town.”
Sinatra — who would have turned (102) on Dec. 12 (he died in 1998, at 82) — could, of course, and did. Over the next 15 years, the blue-eyed son of Hoboken, N.J., would confirm his place as one of the greatest performers of the 20th century (or since) and take the art of interpretive singing to new and still-unsurpassed heights.
The sweet lyric baritone that had made bobby soxers swoon in the ’40s ripened into a darker, more rugged instrument that Sinatra wielded with astonishing emotional and rhythmic dexterity.
On albums ranging from In the Wee Small Hours and Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely to Songs For Swingin’ Lovers! and Come Fly With Me, his singing reflected the gamut of human feeling, from profound sadness to exuberant joy, without missing any of the crucial nuances in between — or sacrificing the intimacy that had brought his earlier recordings, groundbreaking in their own right, to the attention of more discerning fans. Continue reading at USA Today.
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