Last Sunday's A+E package "The Sinatra Century," by Howard Reich, inspired letters about Frank Sinatra's music, his performances in Chicago and his centennial on Dec. 12.
Following are excerpts.
What a wonderful tribute to Sinatra. Thanks for writing. I loved all the songs you wrote about and agree it was not just his voice but his intense interpretation of the lyrics that made him special. Each song was a mini-story that he believed and therefore you, the listener, believed as well.
I would just like to add one more song, possibly my favorite, to your list: "Witchcraft." Every time I entered our student union at Northern Illinois University in 1960, that song was playing on the jukebox.
— Frank Brady, Evanston
Loved the article and the album choices — I'm a huge fan of "The Concert Sinatra" myself.
The versions of "My Heart Stood Still," " I Have Dreamed" and "Ol' Man River" are masterpieces, and the epic scale of the 8-minute "Soliloquy" is amazing, so far beyond the scope of anything a "pop" singer would do today.
I do also think that both the "My Way" and "Strangers in the Night" albums are pretty underrated. Each has a few clunkers (like "Mrs. Robinson" on "My Way" and "Downtown" on "Strangers"), but "Strangers" was Nelson Riddle's last full album with Sinatra, and with "Summer Wind," all the Walter Donaldson tunes and the great swinging recasting of "All or Nothing at All," it's a really good album overall.
— Dan Bindert, station manager at WDCB-FM 90.9, Glen Ellyn
in the Night'
I just read your enjoyable and nostalgic piece on Ol' Blue Eyes. Beyond the trip down memory lane with Frank, it also brought memories of my mother. She loved him. "Strangers in the Night" was her favorite. I can't ever remember her buying any album other than FS's. The few she treated herself with were played over and over. I can both picture her and hear him singing in my head. It was a sweet way to start the day.
— Sandra Fox, Chicago
Your tribute to Frank Sinatra in the Sunday Tribune was a reverent homage to a gifted entertainer. There is no disputing the fact that as a singer he lifted pop music to a new, more authentic, understanding of songwriting magic.
I have no problem with your critique of Sinatra the artist. However your view of Sinatra as a heroic and resilient champion leaves something to be desired — especially in light of the fact that you so quickly dismissed his mob connections in your very first sentence. It seems to me that it's considerably easier to be resilient, and even courageous, when you have the backing of mobsters.
It will be interesting to see how Sinatra the man is treated in that upcoming four-hour documentary (on HBO).