A terrific piece from the Los Angeles Times magazine, West. It feels a little fan-boy to me at first, but it gets into an easy swing as it goes.
So the first thing you do is sit by the pool. You ease into one of the low-slung chairs, close your eyes and lift your face to the winter sun. Sinatra sings “Oh! Look At Me Now,” while a few feet away, the two parallel palms for which the house was named sway in the breeze, their fronds making a soft shushing noise. Sinatra can’t be shushed, however. He’s in a full-throated roar. His voice comes toward you in gusts, and when you open your eyes you can’t say for sure what is causing the ripples on the pool’s surface, Sinatra or the breeze. All at once the music doesn’t seem to have a source, doesn’t seem piped into the rooms, but seems to wander from room to room of its own accord. The music makes Sinatra’s absence feel temporary, momentary, as if he’s just stepped out, run to the corner for another bottle of Jack, but he’ll be back any second, and when he comes through the door he’ll see you and growl: “What the hell are you doing in my house? Where’s Ava?”
(Also, trying out the blockquote tags.)
In other Frank news, I’m still trying to make up my mind about In the Wee Small Hours. The album, not the song. I love the song. It probably makes my all-time top 25 song list. Or top 50. I’m very superstitious about music lists. What if I change my mind later? Then I’d be wrong! But yes … such is life. And let me tell you, this is not a policy well-adapted for life. Despite how often one might use it across all areas of life.
Anyway. The album, not the song. Songs for Swingin’ Lovers from 1956 convinced me of Sinatra’s album strength, surprising to come so long and so strong before the album era. So things led to Wee Small Hours, released the year before Songs and thematically its opposite. But as sad as it got, it kept up the power of the orchestration … which was good for the orchestra, but not what you’d expect at a certain lonely time of night. Or want at that time.
After working beautifully on the title track, the album’s opener, things felt overblown as they moved along. Not ridiculously, but strongly hinting. I have plans to go back to the disc for another shot, but the winter must pass before that return. I’ve got this summer feeling for it.