All through the war-torn years of the 40s, and the happy ones that
followed, the love song reached celestial heights. Bright, youthful voices
floated in clouds of strings; choral groups sang as sweetly as angels.
Words like "forever" and "always" were sung with complete
conviction; a vow of love seemed like a promise of eternity. When love
died, the hurt was so profound that the sky seemed to cave in.
No singer captured those feelings better than Frank Sinatra. Love
Songs is a musical scrapbook of Sintra in his twenties and thirties
- a time when he was the Prince Charming of pubescent girls who jammed
the Paramount Theater in New York and screamed in unison whenever he bent
a note. All the tracks here come from Sinatras Columbia years (1943-1952),
the first phase of his solo career. Included are six previously unissued
alternate takes that, for Sinatra completists, allow interesting comparisons
to the familiar versions.
Today we regard this early decade of Sinatra as classic in its own right.
He hadnt yet developed his tough-guy swagger; instead he offered
up a ballad as gently as if he were handling his prom date a corsage.
His bel canto style was unfailingly pretty, with its soft sustained high
notes, silky lines spun out on a thread of breath, and a tone as light
and clear as a choirboys. The Sinatra of those days is remembered
fondly by singer Eileen Barton, who as a teenager was chosen by the star
to appear with him on his CBS radio shows. "His voice was so flawless
in those days" she says, "I think he was a greater singer in
the 40s than he was at any other time. Because it was pure."
Yet "The Voice, " as he was called, was equally concerned with
exploring the intricacies of phrasing that turned song lyrics into musical
conversation. His blunt toying with words ("Shed never bother
with some bum she hates
Thats why this chick is a tramp!")
was still to come; for now he sang the songs mostly as written, yet
he personalized every phrase with subtle shifts of weight and texture.
Faced with an audience, he was even more expressive. As Cue magazine
noted in 1943: "Just let the word love or darling occur
(and they occur very often in Sinatra offerings) and he hugs the microphone
even closer and sings the magic words with tremendous feeling and volume."
This collection gives a fresh view of his ballad singing by avoiding
most of his trademarks; out of fifteen songs, only three are Sinatra chart
hits. But nearly every track features Alex Stordahl, the acclaimed string
arranger whom Sinatra met as a band singer with Tommy Dorsey. Stordahls
wash of sweet, sentimental sounds made him a perfect conductor for the
Several tunes from the Broadway of Sinatras youth indicate the
richness of that era,
Irving Berlins Annie Get Your Gun(1946) ran for 1,147 performances
and yielded seven standards, including "They say its wonderful."
Ethel Merman had belted it to the last row of the balcony, but that kind
of grandstanding was never for Sinatra. Instead, he pinpoints the wistfulness
of such lines as "The thing thats known as romance is wonderful,wonderful
/ In every way, so they say," singing them with a hint of a sigh.
Sinatras version reached number 2 on the charts.
In The King and I (1651), Rogders and Hammerstein made an impassioned
plea for forbidden love in "We Kiss In A Shadow;" Sinatra sings
its triumphant declaration with quiet confidence. From Cole Porters
Out Of This World (1950) comes the slow, sexy beguine "I am
Loved" which Sinatra croons with a smile in his voice. "Embraceable
You, " the Gerswhin balled from Crazy Girl (1930), was as
inescapable in the 30s and 40s as "My Funny Valentine"
became in the 50s.
"Falling In Love With Love" had been introduced by Muriel Angelus
in Rodgers and Harts The Boys From Syracuse (1938). To the
strains of a swirling waltz, Hart told a story of complete disillusionment;
in his understated way, Sinatra captures all of its heartbreak.
As a naughty sailor in MGMs Anchors Aweigh (1944), Sinatra
introduced Jule Styne and Sammy Cahns "I Fall In Love Too Easily"
with a tone of pure vulnerability. In Take Me Out To The Ball Game
(1949), he and Gene Kelly played two hoofers who join a Baseball team
for the summer. Sinatra fantasized about his future sweetheart in "The
Right Girl For Me," written for him by Betty Comden, Adolph Green
and MGM musical director Rogers Edens.
Sinatra undoubtedly helped to make "Fools Rush In" a standard,
and every word of Johnny Mercers lyric seems to glow, thanks in
part to his precise and thoughtful diction. Another soulful singer of
his generation, Lee Wiley, gave the first performance of "Love Me,"
a Victor Young-Ned Washington ballad of 1934. He introduced "Everybody
Loves Somebody" in this 1947 recording, but Sinatras version
was forgotten long before Dean Martin took the song to number one in 1964.
Late in 1950, Sinatra recorded the agonized "Take My Love,"
Two pianist-conductor friends of his, Jack Wolf and Joel Herron, had adapted
the melody from the third movement of Brahms Third Symphony; Sinatra
is credited with the words.
Other tunes here are small, pleasant souvenirs of the 40s, memorable
because of the feeling Sinatra poured into them. "Every Man Should
Marry" recalls that moment in post-World War II America when marriage
seemed like an irrestibly romantic prospect. "I hear A Rhapsody"
is best remembered as a 1940 hit for Jimmy Dorsey and Bob Eberly.
Though his career would last forty more years, and he would emerge from
the cocoon of the "crooner" era with a rainbow of vocal colors
that werent there before, the innocence of his early singing remains
as touching as ever. Here is the golden age of the pop ballad, and the
voice that helped it shine.
James Gavin - New York City, 2000.
Sinatra Love Songs (2001)
COLUMBIA/LEGACY 501493 2
Tracks: (Title, Length, Date of Recording, Date of original Release)
Falling in love with love (2.44) (HCO1948-1 08/08/46). 1954
I love you (2.26) (HCO3749-PB 06/05/49) *
I fall in love too easily (3.15) (CO33931-PB 01/12/44) *
Embraceable you (3.17) (HCO1183-PB2 19/12/ 44) *
They say its wonderful (3.05) (HCO1748-PB2 10/03/46) *
Fools rush in (2.59) (CO38303-PB131/10/47). 1949
Everybody loves somebody (3.14) (CO44634-1 04/12/47). 1948
Take my love (3.17) (CO44634-1 11/11/50). 1951
I am loved (2.25) (CCO44635-1 11/11/50). 1950
Every man should marry (3.49) (CO40970-PB1 14/07/49) *
The right girl for me (3.09) (HCO3635-PB 03/03/49). *
My Girl (2.24) (RHCO1010 06/02/52). 1952
We kiss in a shadow (3.35) (CO45157-1 02/03/51). 1951
Love me (3.08) (CO45186 27/03/51). 1951
I hear a rhapsody (3.04) (RHCO10082 01/07/52). 1952
April in Paris (2.43) (CO44428 09/10/50). 1950
Night and day (3.38) (CO38275 22/10/47)
These foolish things (remind me of you) (3.07) (HCO1501 30/07/45). 1945
All recordings arranged and conducted by Axel Stordhal With the exception
of Track 10 (arranged and conducted by Hugo Winterhalter)
* Previously unreleased alternative take
Sleevenotes kindly submitted by Jill Beasley
Love Songs from Amazon.co.uk.