September 2, 2015

#33: Crazy 'bout the spin he's in

And so am I. In spite of Frank's voice not sounding (to me) quite right, and his serious attitude problem toward Capitol Records, he does a terrific job with "That Old Black Magic." It wasn't at all clear, at first, how to approach it:

"We went through [the repertory] together, and Frank said, 'These bastards [at Capitol] want me to do these standards.'" [Billy] May reports, "He said, 'I don't know what to do with "Sunny Side of the Street." I don't know how to make it.' He realized that I had the same problems he did, and he was right. What are you going to do with 'Black Magic'? Frank had been singing that son of a bitch for twenty years. What more could we do with it? (Friedwald, p 294)
Heinie Beau, who arranged this song and several others for Come Swing With Me, figured something out:



The song was written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer in 1942. Mercer's lyrics might make you dizzy, but in a good way:
That old black magic has me in its spell
That old black magic that you weave so well
Icy fingers up and down my spine
Same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine

The same old tingle that I feel inside
And then that elevator starts its ride
And down and down I go, round and round I go
Like a leaf that's caught in the tide

I should stay away but what can I do?
I hear your name and I'm aflame
Aflame with such a burning desire
That only your kiss can put out the fire

You are the lover I have waited for
The mate that fate had me created for
And every time your lips meet mine

Baby, down and down I go, round and round I go
In a spin, lovin' the spin that I'm in
Under that old black magic called love

You are the lover I have waited for
The mate that fate had me created for
And every time your lips meet mine

A-baby, down and down I go, all around I go
In a spin, crazy 'bout the spin I'm in
Under that old black magic called love

That old black magic called love
That old black magic called love
That old black magic called love 
Of the similarly themed "Witchcraft," Mark Steyn writes, "I've always loved songs that use magic as an image of romantic seduction and intoxication." About three-quarters of the way through "Black Magic," when Frank hits the peak with "And every time your lips meet mine" he's singing not just about physical attraction, but about love, too. I find it a lot more romantic than "Witchcraft," which seems to be only about the "tingle." But to each his own "magic" Sinatra numbers.

(Spoiler alert: my favorite intoxicated-by-love song will be coming up in a couple of months, so stay tuned.)

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