September 21, 2015

#29: Frank bounces the moon

It's 1965 and Frank's pipes are in prime shape for this St. Louis benefit concert. He was accompanied by his Rat Pack pals and backed up by the Basie band conducted by Quincy Jones. It was viewable only on closed-circuit TV. And despite those clowns goofing on him from offstage, and despite the fact that he must have sung "YMMFSY" a zillion or so times, Sinatra gets inside the song, and in the groove, and delivers One Terrific Performance. By the end, we feel as young as he does:



Sinatra had one of those faces that was totally transformed by his smile. Isn't he a handsome devil here at age 49?

Bonus: Heeeeere's Johnny! And he can sing:



Sammy's got some pipes, too, huh? Enjoy the whole ring-a-ding-ding thing here, on YouTube, or do what I'm about to do and buy the DVD. Yes, Amazon has it!

The song was written in 1946 by Josef Myrow and Mack Gordon. Needless to say, the Songs for Swingin' Lovers version is wonderful, but this live performance with the souped-up arrangement wins the prize from me and bounces this classic into my top thirty.

The song is obviously a total blast to sing. Mark Steyn has the whole story behind it, and writes:

And it sings just beautifully, not least the climactic echo of "spring" and "sprung" in "A wonderful fling to be flung!" Of course, Myrow's tune is terrific. Alec Wilder called it "a simply great rhythm song" with "irresistible vitality" that says "get out of my way till I finish".
Exactly, as illustrated by video above.

More from Mark:
For a while, he liked to use it as an opening number, but, even when he didn't, he'd usually use it early on in the act, as one of those mid-tempo numbers that helped him relax into a show, and the venue, and the crowd, before getting into the ballads and the hard swing. He modified the Nelson Riddle arrangement, getting Billy Byers to punch it up for his run at the Sands with Count Basie and Quincy Jones. Byers gives the chart a little more drive in the intro, providing the extra level of energy you want at a live performance. He helped the number live up to its title: The older Frank got, the younger it made him feel, as he peppered the renditions with outré grace notes, and the big bellowed "Yoooooooooo...." with which he liked to ride into the final section of the second chorus. If you want to know the difference between Sinatra and everyone else, it comes down to one word. Compare Ella's recording of the song. When she wants to go and bounce the moon, "bounce" is a pretty sound, that's all. Then go back and listen to Frank: He all but literally bounces the word off the rhythm section.
Read the rest.

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