I was mesmerized by Alex Gibney’s two part film Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All. It’s a warts and all portrait that focused on the verifiable parts on Sinatra’s life story and, more importantly, his music. That’s what really matters in any discussion of Sinatra’s legacy. I’m one of those who likes his politics until 1968 and not after 1970. So it goes. Harry Belafonte couches the change in personal terms and I quite agree: he was pissed at the Kennedys and got back at them Jersey-style. Besides, we had him for longer than they did but, once again, what really matters is the music, the rest is ephemeral in contrast.
I only became a fan of Sinatra’s music when I was able to distance it from his late in life, get off my lawn persona. Additionally, that was my parents’ music and as a child of the Seventies, I was eager to rebel in any way possible. But I always loved the music of some of his contemporaries: Ella and Billie in particular. In the early aughties, I decided it was time to put my prejudices aside and dive into the Sinatra catalog. I’m glad I did.
For this week’s Sunday Morning Video, I’ll be presenting a double-header of Sinatra’s 1971 farewell concert and his 1974 return. Gibney used the former event as the prism through which he told the Chairman of the Board’s story. The Sinatra family chose wisely when they turned over their fabulous archive of candid interviews to Gibney. I love it when Frank goes off on his enemies and admits to his mistakes, but, once again, it’s the music that matters.
The post title is taken from the lyrics that conclude Angel Eyes. It was written by Matt Dennis and Earl Brent in 1946. Although it was recorded by other artists, Sinatra made it his own in 1958. It was the closing tune of his “farewell” show. What better way to go out, albeit temporarily, than singing “excuse me while I disappear.”
Below are two versions of Angel Eyes, one from Sinatra’s 1974 comeback show and the other sung by Bruce Springsteen at an event honoring the original Jersey boy on his 80th birthday.
First, the Chairman of the Board:
Finally, the Boss: