Saturday, December 12, 2015

Perfection - Sinatra

Sinatra and Basie
I've said this before.

I'll say it again.

Frank Sinatra, with Count Basie and his Orchestra (conducted by Quincy Jones), in an arrangement by Nelson Riddle, performing "I've Got You Under My Skin" in early 1966 is just about the greatest piece of recorded music I've ever heard.

Written by Cole Porter, the song was part of a "wonderful new show" at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas that was released as Sinatra at the Sands later in 1966. The overall album is widely-regarded as one of the greatest live shows ever put on record (or CD or 8-track or digital media). Rolling Stone placed it at 36th all-time.

The Chairman of the Board had just turned 50, and he is in fine voice throughout the album. But it's "I've Got You Under My Skin" that is simply blistering. Basie and the band don't overwhelm it. They sit in waiting, tingling along until WHACK!

That's when things explode.

It settles back down, with Frank's voice - that masterful interpretation - taking it from there.

Then it climbs until we reach the zenith: "Don't you know, you fool, there ain't no chance to win. Why not use your mentality?  Wake up! Step up to reality! Annnnnnnd each time I do, just the thought of you makes me stop just before I begin!"

Then a moment of silence. The slightest moment, as Sinatra breaks it down.

You feel it. You know our hero stands no chance.

None. He's trying to be wise. He's trying to recognize it and walk away.

He can't. He's whipped.

"Because I've got you," he sighs. "Under my skin. Yeah you're grabbing me under my skin."

Basie bangs the piano and we're done.

It's exhilarating and exhausting.

On this day - the 100th anniversary of Sinatra's birth, take a moment and listen to something of his. Even if it's not your genre. Just take three minutes and listen. Listen. Hear that voice. He's not just singing. It's something entirely different.

You'll feel it.

It's Sinatra.

Accept no substitutes.

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