My favorites come and go, but one person has remained constant for almost a decade now: Frank Sinatra.
I discovered classic films in December 1999, and then first heard Frank Sinatra sing two months later - on Valentines Day 2000. I was making a mix tape for my parents and found a Sinatra CD hiding amongst all the alternative rock music my dad usually listens to. One play of "All the Way" and I was hooked. Up until that day, I was strictly a top 40 girl. It embarrasses me now, but my entire music collection at the time pretty much consisted of Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys.
For me, Frank Sinatra is the one figure from the golden age whose music and movies have always remained at the top of the heap. His songs have comforted me through petty-in-retrospect-but-devastatingly-serious-at-the-time crushes in high school. When my cat was seriously ill in 2007, the only thing I could listen to was "Melancholy Baby." His songs were there when I had art successes -- "You're Gonna Hear From Me" was a popular tune in my home when I started getting sales in 2005. Every trip tape, every mix tape, every play list over the last ten years hasn't been without a Frank Sinatra song.
I have listened to his songs so often over the decade that I don't even need to play them to hear them; the songs are imprinted in my brain forever. When I do hear them, I can easily pinpoint what year they were recorded by the sound of his voice. From the smooth, silky sound of his early years with Harry James to the deep, world-weary gravely sound in the 80's. I love every one of his songs with all of my heart.
Frank Sinatra's voice, even at the beginning, had such a depth to it that while listening you really feel like you could fall into the sound. With headphones on in a quiet room, the music just engulfs me - no other singer I've ever heard could accomplish this but Frank Sinatra.
While my interest in Frank Sinatra has transformed over the years from a bobby-soxer, fangirl kind of fascination into a deep, heartfelt respect for the music and the man, I still go weak in the knees when I hear his love songs. Despite the fact that the album was made in haste at the end of his Capitol contract, my favorite album is "Point of No Return." It's usually outshone by his similar, but more popular, concept albums "Wee Small Hours" and "Only the Lonely" but if you haven't heard it yet, I highly recommend it. The track "It's a Blue World" has turned around my record player more times than I could ever count.
While I usually celebrate celebrity birthdays with a film or listening to one of their songs, Frank Sinatra's birthday is always different - he's like a member of my family! Because he's so special, he gets his own celebration in my home every single year.
The annual itinerary:
A double feature & a concert
(This year it's Von Ryan's Express, Pal Joey and A Man and His Music)
Sinatra music ALL DAY LONG, non stop.
And a pasta dinner using Frank Sinatra's recipe. The recipe was spoken to Sid Mark (host of the Philadelphia radio show Sundays with Sinatra)
"First you start with some olive oil and some garlic, four whole cloves. You heat the oil and add the garlic. Puncture the garlic with an ordinary fork so it exudes the flavor. When the garlic turns tan, turn off the oil and throw it out. Save the oil.
Next you take two whole cans of the Italian plum tomatoes. Place the can in the blender and count to a slow four. Put the tomatoes into a large sauce pan. Add some basil, salt, pepper, oregano, and the oil. Bring the sauce to a boil. Skim the oil that rises to the top. Dip a piece of bread in the sauce testing to see when the sauce is finished. At the end you might want to add from fresh parsley. And there you have it-a good pasta sauce."
Now, I edit this just a tad (sorry Frank!) I add a few tablespoons of honey (otherwise it can be pretty acidic!) and I crush the tomatoes with a potato masher instead of putting them in a blender, so that it has more texture. I always use Luigi Vitelli plum tomatoes (imported from Italy) and fresh Basil. It tastes delicious with any kind of pasta, but I usually use penne, capellini or shells. And very al dente!!
Happy Sinatra day!!!