July 18, 2015

#45: Frank swings sweetly with Nelson

If Ella swings gently and brightly with Nelson, Frank swings sweetly with him here. It's "Swingin' Down The Lane," written by Isham Jones and Gus Kahn in 1923. Thiry-three years later it was arranged by Nelson Riddle and recorded by Sinatra for their phenomenal album, Songs for Swingin' Lovers!:



That's three minutes of perfection. Mark Steyn calls it a "killer arrangement" and so it is. It's also pretty much the polar opposite of our previous selection; when it came to love and romance, Sinatra could handle every possible nuance, and he wasn't at all afraid to tackle a sweet, old-fashioned song like this one. Mark writes:

It's melodically charming, and the absence of any fill or pick-up notes in that space between "might have known" and "nights like this" is very surefooted on Jones and Kahn's part. Still, it was an old-fashioned song by 1956 that sounds as if it belongs to a pre-automobile Lovers' Lane. Yet Sinatra's reading is utterly sincere, and Riddle scored it in what he called "the tempo of the heartbeat", and with such attention to detail, from the stellar trumpets to the celesta:

When the moon is on the rise 
Baby, I'm so blue 
Watching lovers making eyes 
Like we used to do 
When the moon is on the wane 
Still I'm waiting all in vain 
Should be Swingin' Down The Lane 
With you... 

I'm not even sure "swingin' down the lane" is a thing, or ever was. But by the time it's over Sinatra and Riddle have made it a song for all time. 
And what could sound more dated than "making eyes"? But it doesn't matter, at all. Add it to the list of Sinatra/Riddle jewels (and to the short list of my husband's favorites :) )

***

Mark's #47 is a keeper. I will sheepishly admit that I habitually skip this track when I listen to SSL -- it just doesn't fit with the rest of the album (it's more of a Nice 'n' Easy number), and I lack patience for the slower songs in general (though I've gained a lot more appreciation for them this year). But "We'll Be Together Again" is a beauty. I had no idea it was written by Frankie Laine, or that he wrote songs at all. Read and learn from Mark.

Mark and Ms. EBL explore Frank's French connections with the lovely "When The World Was Young," "I Love Paris," and more. Bob Belvedere chooses four really fun songs for slots 28-26, all of which I like but only one of which made my list! A top 200 list would have been a lot easier to execute. If I can I'm going to keep going through 2016 -- there are just too many great songs to stop at one hundred.



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