Snakes & Ladders
Imagine an uneasy silence. Everyone in the darkness awaits impatiently when suddenly the spotlights hit the stage, people start applauding, the silence has been broken with the first harmonies of the brass and percussion sections revealing what is about to come. As he walks in to the stage with his traditional immaculate tuxedo, people go crazy! In one hand, an unfiltered Camel cigarette, and in front of him, a Neumann U47 microphone he made love to with each song. It’s the characteristic entrance of a living legend, The Voice, The Chairman of the Board, Ol´ Blue Eyes… Frank Sinatra!
That’s life (that’s life) that’s what all people say
You’re riding high in April,
Shot down in May
But I know I’m gonna change their tune,
When I’m back on top, back on top in June…
This past December 12th, Frank would have been 100 years old. How would have the icon celebrated his 100 years of birth? We can suppose many things, but two we are definitely able to assert as fact. A big party, because if there was something Ol´ Blue Eyes could do, was to party and secondly, I know he would have been ecstatic, because if there was anything that Frank loved, it was life and every minute of it. All of this is recorded in the book:
“Sinatra, The Photographs” released this past October 27th 2015, a work of Barbara Sinatra and Andrew Howick, a young photographer who was commissioned to compile a number of images of the legend that long remained unknown to most people.
The book follows a strict chronological text, which begins with a emotive letter from Barbara Sinatra wishing him a happy birthday and saying to him how much she would have enjoyed meeting the “old Frank” because “Nobody could throw a party like the “old Frank” could… whom, according to his wife, enjoyed life and love as one and always sought the funny side of things.
After the letter, we go to 1954, one of the most important years in the life of Frank Sinatra. That year he won the Oscar with “From Here to Eternity,” a fact that would revive his career after a resounding failure in the early 50s that had left him without recording contracts and a nasty divorce in tow. His performance is remarkable, therefore, Columbia Records offered him a new contract and his relationship with Ava Gardner (according to some, the great love of his life, he co-wrote for her “I’m A Fool To Want You”) became stabilized. In this great book, you can see pictures of the couple at their best. Ava would say, “Frank’s voice was special… with a unique eminence that made me cry of happiness, as if in front of you lay the most perfect sunset”. All photographs show a strong, confident Frank, with an absolute mastery over his music and extraordinary voice, therefore, that Bob Dylan publicly expressed:
-WHEN FRANK SANG “EBB TIDE” I COULD HEAR IN HIS VOICE GOD, DEATH, AND THE UNIVERSE. ABSOLUTELY ALL-
Out of the tree of life
I just picked me a plumb
You came along
And everything started in to hum
Still it’s a real good bet
The best is yet to come
In the next chapter of the book, we see Frank accompanied by other immortals: Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop with whom he formed the most famous gang of all time, “The Rat Pack,” and photographs bear witness to how much they enjoyed being together, passing time either preparing a new number, playing cards or bothering the crap out of each other. “It was the largest accumulation of talent of that time period,” said Deana, the daughter of Dean Martin, “But the most amazing thing is that they were a group of friends doing what they loved.” They were at the peak of their careers and through the magic of photography that mutates from black and white to color, we get to see those stunning blue eyes bluer than ever and we see how the myth is transformed into legend.
As we move forward in the photographs, we see the silver hair appearing in Frank’s head, magical moments and some of that wisdom that only comes with age.
To think I did all that;
And may I say – not in a shy way,
“Oh no, oh no not me, I did it my way”
Sinatra, the perfect portrait of his essence: the man who took advantage of every moment, pain or happiness and always turned it into something magical, amazing… just like his voice and personality. The very first page of the book says: “May we all live to be a hundred, and the last voice you hear be mine… Frank Sinatra”.
Well, a hundred years have passed dear Frank, and many, like me, keep hearing your voice all the time. As I write this I take a break, put three ice-cubes, two fingers of Jack and a splash of water in my “old fashioned” glass, let the drink sit for a bit, not much, just enough for the flavors to blend properly, while my old record player breaks the silence with the first harmonies of the brass and percussion sections revealing what is about to come, the entry of The Voice, The Chairman of the Board, Ol´ Blue Eyes… Frank Sinatra.
Happy 100 Frank… SALUTE, CENT’ ANNI!
Snakes and Ladders is a column by José E. Urioste The Yucatan Times CEO and a Business Intelligence professional in the area of Research and Development. José began his training process in mass media writing scripts for radio programs, commercials and advertising campaigns and has contribuited with newspapers, magazines and other media in general on various topics ranging from the professional to the editorial. José is the author of 3 fiction novels that have been presented in numerous forums and literary competitions, causing much controversy as to their content.
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