These heavy laments to lost love and loneliness are too classically entrenched to be described as "saloon songs"; the mood is more Henrik Ibsen than Eugene O'Neill, more Tchaikovsky than Billie Holiday. Jenkins's grandiose, sweeping approach works best on songs with an epic sweep in their words and music, like "I Cover the Waterfront." (I never realized before what a big, empty place the waterfront is, and what a lot of ground the hero has to cover here.) In Leonard Bernstein's "Lonely Town," he's not just playing an individual lonely guy in a town somewhere, but Sinatra and Jenkins describe an entire city of vast, epic emptiness, a man alone with only about 100 violinists to keep him company. It's a beautiful, quirky album, fully justifying the idiosyncrasies of the two collaborators. Their 1959 reunion on Capitol, No One Cares, is almost as good, and there are two particularly brilliant Sinatra-Jenkins team ups in the 1960s, All Alone (rendered entirely in 3/4) and September of My Years (rendered entirely in contemplative songs about the passage of time).
By Wondering Sound Staff on 09.16.09 in Icons
Young Frank. In the span of an artistic career that encompassed six decades, Sinatra's "youth" represents a quarter of that, post-Bing and pre-Elvis, overlapping both in his accession to the throne of American song. The...
By Marc Hogan on 12.30.14 in News
When Michael Stipe appeared on CBS This Morning earlier in the month and said, "I think I'll sing again," he didn't just mean The Colbert Report's all-star swan song. The former R.E.M. frontman has performed only rarely...
By Marc Hogan on 12.09.14 in News
Bob Dylan has shed some more light on his next album, Shadows in the Night. Earlier this year, the noted Chrysler enthusiast shared his version of "Full Moon and Empty Arms," a song most famously recorded by Frank Sinatr...
By Stephen Thomas Erlewine on 10.03.14 in Features
How the chart-topping 'Cheek to Cheek' is part of a long tradition.