Sinatra. The name? What does it conjure? Well, for myself and millions of Italian-Americans over the years, the name Sinatra conjures mostly love, warmth, happiness, pride. The emotions one ever really needs. To be happy, content, and feel Love. These are the things that are important. These, good health, 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. She’d play the records on her RCA Victor Record Player. Songs like Strangers in the Night, The Summer Wind, 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, Nat King Cole, and Tony Bennett. Those were her favorites and Frank Sinatra was always number one to my Mom and the entire Bellino family.
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, he always succeeded. Whether he was singing a fun happy song like “Luck Be a Lady,” or “I’ve Got the World on a String.” But most of all the incredible way he sang a torch song. Phenomenal.
Songs of lost love and bittersweet romances like “You and Me,” as you listen, you feel it, the pain, the sorrow of a bittersweet Love lost.
They say the reason he had this very special touch with torch songs was that as he song these songs, he’d always think of the greatest love of all and the Lost Love,
Ava Gardner, “The proverbial girl that got away.”
The man 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 such “Wonderful Gifts” to the World, to his hundreds of millions of fans. They are a part of history, left to mankind, to eternity. How wonderful. Lucky we all are.
Italian-Americans are deeply proud that he was one of their own. He was an Icon, The Twentieth Century’s greatest entertainer, a National Treasure and source of pride. Someone whom Italians-Americans looked-up-to and were proud of, to brag about. He was of Italian blood, that our roots were from the same place, as well as so many of our forbearer’s 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 movies like “Kings Go Forth” or his Oscar winning performance as Maggio in “From Here to Eternity”.
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 were oh so magical. euphoric feelings you’d get the same euphoric feeling that you got as a child on Christmas Night opening your presents. Do you remember? Only seeing Sinatra “Live” was so much 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”, 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 my age hardly ever listened to unless they were the chosen few who had the good taste and capacity to appreciate musicians like Armstrong, Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and others. It didn’t matter if you were of the 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 inquired. 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 Frank for you, loved the World over, even in little towns like Greve in Chianti.