Monday, December 12, 2011


Frank Sinatra's always been there in my life.  My mother—who, as a teenager, would cut high school to go swoon over Sinatra at New York's Paramount theater—made sure his songs were playing constantly in our house.  (For the record:  My father loved Frankie just as much.  If you were Italian, you had to.  It was a genetic imperative.)  I may have been a child of the rock and roll generation, but I was always under Sinatra's spell; and the older I got, the more I came to love—make that revere—his mix of swagger and vulnerability, bravado and tenderness.  Most of all I came to appreciate the aching humanity in Frank Sinatra's music.  For all his Vegas, Rat Pack glamor, he was, beneath it all, a skinny kid from Hoboken who knew the same loneliness and despair, hope and joy, that we all do.  And he was blessed with an extraordinary voice that could express it in the most natural, and yet magical, of ways.

In honor of what would have been Frank Sinatra's 96th birthday, here are some classic moments—starting with a very young Sinatra singing what was then his signature song:

And now here's Frankie at the height of his powers, with the amazing Count Basie and his orchestra storming away behind him:

And, finally, Sinatra in the autumn of his years, voice waning (and all the more poignant for it), facing down the darkness with eloquence and heart.

Happy Birthday, Frank.  The song is you, indeed.

©copyright 2011 J.M. DeMatteis


  1. It's funny. Last night I was watching the CBC talk show "George Strombolopolous" and he had Paul Anka on. And of course he talked about his time (he was around 16 then) hanging with the Rat Pack. Paul had nothing but great things to say about them all really. For the most part, he was a fly on the wall, watching, listening, and just having a great time with the guys. And he had some very interesting stories about Frank. You can see a snippet of the interview here:

  2. I can't imagine what it was like for a sixteen year old to be hanging around with those guys, A. Jaye. That would make a terrific movie.

    And Merry Christmas!

  3. You know ... it would! I never thought of that. We both know they've done a few movies chronicling the 'Rat Pack' over the years, but one from the perspective of a young, teenage Paul Anka would be very unique. Hmm ... maybe me and you should tackle that. Whenever you're ready, I'm game! : )

  4. Okay and I get to be Paul. He's Canadian and the youngest, and he was a big heart-throb at the time, so that fits perfectly for me. : ) And a HUGE HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JM! Have a great and special day today, my friend!

  5. Thanks, A. Jaye! I'm having a great day!

  6. Happy happy Dematteis day!!! Hope it's a great one!

  7. Thanks so much, Jeff! It's been great so far!