Sinatra. The name. What does it conjure? Well for me and millions of Italian-Americans over the years, the name Sinatra conjures mostly love, warmth, happiness, and pride. The emotions that are all one really need to be happy and content. It’s what is important, along with good health and family togetherness.
My love of Frank Sinatra, the man and his music began when I was a young boy growing up in East Rutherford, New Jersey. As far back as I can remember, my mother used to play all his wonderful recordings on her RCA Victor record player. Songs like Strangers in the Night, The Summer Wind, The Lady is a Tramp, Fly Me to the Moon, Come Fly with Me, and so many more. She played Frank all the time, along with Sammy, Dino, Elvis,
Al Martino, Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole. Those were her favorites and Frank Sinatra was always number one for the entire Bellino family, especially me and Uncle Frank.
The man sang with so much emotion that you could actually feel it within yourself, the feelings and emotions he was trying to convey. He tried and he always succeeded, whether he was singing a fun happy song like “Luck Be a Lady,” “I’ve Got the World on a String”, or the incredible way he sang a torch song, as no other on Earth could. Songs of “Lost Love” and
“Bittersweet Romances” as in his Beautifully Poignant
“You and Me”. You could feel the pain. They say the reason he had this very special touch with torch songs was because he was thinking of, and singing about the “Greatest Love of his Life,” Ava Gardner, the proverbial girl that got away. “By the way, I must point out, this song YOU and ME is such a beautiful song, probably one of the most beautifully bittersweet Love Song ever written, and I know for a fact that most people who like Sinatra don’t even know of the song. It is just a little obscure, and not one of Franks most popular. To me, it might very well be “Sinatra’s” most beautiful song ever song by him. So I urge you, if you have never heard this wonderful gem, Please get it. It’s on the album TRILOGY.”
Yes this man, Sinatra had such a way with lyrics and music, he’d take those songs and make them his own. These songs were, still are, and always will be wonderful gifts to his hundreds of millions of fans, to the World, to the history of mankind, to the people who Love and adored him.
We Italian-Americans are deeply proud that he was one of our own. He was an Icon, The Twentieth Century’s greatest entertainer, a National Treasure and source of pride, whom Italians looked-up-to and could brag about, he was of Italian blood, that our roots were from the same place, as well as so many of our forbearers of Italy to precede us, people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Bruneleschi, Verrazzano, Columbus, Marconi, and Michael Angelo. There was Joe Di Maggio, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Al Pacino, Francis Ford Copola, Robert Mondavi,
Jake La Motta, Rocky Marciano, and so many more, and of all those incredible people, Sinatra was tops. He still is.
There was nobody quite like Frank, who gave you such wonderful feelings and emotions whenever you listened to him,
or watched him in such movies as “Kings Go Forth” or his Oscar winning performance as Maggio in “From Here to Eternity”.
Yes there are, there has been, and there will be other great performers, but there will never, ever be another quite like Frank. He had his own wonderful charm, talent, style, and uniqueness, that just can not and will never be duplicated. Not like Frank. The key word here being uniqueness. You have people like Dean Martin, Louis Armstrong, and Sammy Davis Jr., these people are great. They are hugely talented, they are unique. Sammy could not be Sinatra, Sinatra could not be Armstrong, Dino, Sammy, Elvis. These people are one of a kind. They can not be duplicated. That’s Sinatra, one of a kind. And his did it with such style and grace, and just like Sammy and Dean,
If you were ever fortunate enough to see him perform live, it was an experience like no other. You know how he makes you feel so good when you listen to one of his beautiful recordings? Well multiply that by 100 and you just start to understand. The feelings one felt at a Sinatra Concert are quite similar to the magical euphoric feelings you’d get as a child opening your presents on Christmas morning. Do you remember? Only seeing Sinatra “Live” was even better.
When you went to a Sinatra Concert there would be so much love, joy, happiness, and adulation for the man that you could literally feel it in the air. It made you shiver and sent chills up and down your spine. “Truly.” People would be screaming out, “We love you Frank”, both men and women, and he’d reply back, “I love you too”, in a way, only Frank could do. He truly did love and appreciate his fans and had such a wonderful rapport with his audience. Frank would always say such warm and wonderful things as he performed. It was amazing. As they say,
“You could feel the Love”.
There have been so many great performers over the years, but there never was, there is not now, and there will never ever be another quite like that man, Francis Albert Sinatra. Never, ever!!!
I’ve been a tremendous fan of his since early childhood. I grew up listening to the Beatles, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, all the great Motown and Philadelphia Sound artists, as well as many other Rock and Pop Stars. Along with the Pop, R&B, and Rock music that most kids of my age would listen to, I added artists of my parents generation; like Sinatra, the rest of the
Rat Pack, Louis Armstrong, Bobby Darin, and others that most children and young adults didn’t listen to unless they were the chosen few who had the good taste and capacity to appreciate musicians like Armstrong, Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and others, whether they were of their generation or not.
When I was in high school, I had a few friends who
were heavily into Sinatra as-well. Other kids thought he was boring and old-fashioned. We knew better! We were all of Italian descent and we were proud of him and of ourselves that although we were from another era, we were sophisticated enough, at such young ages to appreciate great performers of our parents and grandparents generation. We were cool and we knew it! We looked at ourselves as The Jr. Rat Pack, Cool and Sophisticated!!!
The sad day in which Frank Sinatra passed away, I received four messages of condolence, one from my sister Barbara, one from my brother-in-law Noel, one from my friend Selena, and one from my good buddy James Starace. That’s how much I loved the man, and all my friends and family knew it, thus the messages of condolence. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened to a million other Sinatra fans.
We were blessed with his presence for a long time. We still are, through all his fabulous recordings and the memories they evoke of old girlfriends, of our mothers, fathers, and of Frank.
I made sure that I went to see the man perform live on seven extraordinary occasions. These concerts hold many wonderful memories that I will have for the rest of my life, along with the numerous dinners with friends and family spent listening to his incomparable recordings and having Sinatra Parties on Saturday nights when WNEW AM in New York used to have a show every Saturday night for years called “Saturday with Sinatra”, as only New Yorkers could do, New Yorkers being Franks most loyal fans. The show was hosted by Sid Marxs. Sid and some of his special guest would tell all sorts of wonderful stories about Frank. There would be guests who knew Frank personally, as
well as listeners who would call in and tell stories of how
they fell in love listening to Sinatra or how they met
him one time, or of performances that they went to. The
show was three hours of listening to Sinatra’s incomparable music and of stories and antidotes of “The Man.”
Sinatra was loved all over the world, and people could tell you all sorts of interesting antidotes pertaining to all parts of the globe. I have a particular interesting memory of him combined with a great food and wine trip in
Italy. I was in the small wine town of Greve in Chianti Classico, Italy having a nice little dinner with my pal Jimmy Starace. We were in this great little Enoteca eating the famed local salumi and Paparadelle with Wild Boar Ragu. We were a bit surprised (I don’t know why) to hear Sinatra and Billy Holiday recordings playing at this little place. The owner walked by to see how we were doing. I gave him a thumbs-up and told him, “Great music”.
“You like Billy Holiday?” he enquired. We had a nice little conversation with him about Billy, Sinatra, and wine. He told us that he had lived and worked in for a few years and worked in New York for a few years. This guy was a big fan of Frank, Billy, and New York City. So, that’s Sinatra, loved the world over, even in little towns like Greve in Chianti.
This Article has been Excerpted from Daniel Bellino-Zwicke’s upcoming book