Monday, February 18, 2008

Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The lonely

All this talk about Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely and so I decided to post something about it.

A front-runner in the Frank’s best album stakes and undeniably a masterpiece, Frank said it was his favourite album. It was conceived in exceptionally sad circumstances. Shortly before Nelson began work on arranging the songs on this album his six-month-old daughter had died from bronchial asthma. Frank and Nelson went into the studio on 5 May 1958 to begin work on the album, but none of the three songs that were cut that night were used. Nelson’s mother was critically ill and it must have affected the session. Four days later she died. Three weeks later Frank returned to the studio and while the arrangements for the album were Nelson’s it was Felix Slatkin who conducted the orchestra on May 29 before Nelson returned for the last two sessions.

It includes 'One For My Baby', written by Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer which was recorded on Wednesday June 25 1958. When it came time to record this now classic number Frank's new producer, Dave Cavanaugh, created the right mood by dimming the studio lights and illuminating Frank with a single spot. With Bill Miller beside him at the piano. Frank felt like he was in a nightclub. The album opens with 'Only The Lonely', a Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn song. Frank told author Robin Douglas-Home about pacing an album. “Tommy Dorsey did this with every band-show he played. Paced it, planned every second from start to finish. He never told me this; it just suddenly came to me as I sat up on that stand every night. This is what I’ve tried to do with every album I’ve ever made.” This stands up as one of Frank’s best ‘scene setting openers’. Other stand outs; 'Angel Eyes', 'Whats New', 'Where or When' and 'Ebb Tide'

While Frank delivers the sadness of the songs the arrangements have an added dollop of despondency. It was a travesty that this album did so poorly at the inaugural Grammy awards. All it won was the award for the best cover! 'Only The Lonely' was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 to partially atone for the oversight. In December 1958 Peter Jones in the British music paper Record Mirror took stock. “This is the LP which my colleague on Record Mirror criticised when he wrote about an advance copy a week ago. I see his point, that Sinatra on some numbers lacks the necessary dramatic quality, I still feel the LP as a whole has so much magic it is a ‘must’”

Frank’s design idea for the cover was interpreted by Nick Volpe and Frank, on winning his award, acknowledged the fact.


Richard Evans said...

Blimey, if anyone would know the cover artist it would be you, Richard. Nick Volpe, eh? Did Frank give him the Grammy though? I suppose not, considering it was his concept.

r morris said...

If I remember correctly, some really crappy album beat out Frank's 'Only the Lonely' for the Grammy that year.

Frank was robbed!!

And I still don't get....why the clown? I wonder if Volpe ever said what was behind it. Knowing Sinatra, there was a definite thematic plan and this cover was included in that plan.

Richard Evans said...

This Nick Volpe chap doesn't come cheap . . .

That's it! I'm putting my prices up!

Richard Havers said...

Blimey!! That's a bit expensive

r morris said...

I might pay this for a Leonardo da Vinci, but not this guy.
Richard Evans, stay reasonable for the huddled masses. <;^)