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Sinatra! The Song Is You: A Singer's Art Paperback – March 22, 1997

4.4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Not surprisingly, most of Frank Sinatra's biographers have raked through the muck of the singer's marriages, divorces, mob connections, and outbursts of foul-mouthed misogyny. Will Friedwald takes a different tack. Oh, the biographical facts are there, but Friedwald is mostly interested in the Voice--that irresistible, inimitable instrument, the absence of which would punch a major hole in the soundtrack of life. This is certainly the best book ever written on Sinatra's music, which means that it sheds a great deal of light on American pop music in general. And while Friedwald gets downright rhapsodic when it comes to the career highlights, he's not afraid to tweak Ol' Blue Eyes when he comes up with a dud. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This admiring account of Frank Sinatra's career provides only sporadic glimpses of the singer's personal life, focusing instead on the music. Friedwald (Jazz Singing) portrays Sinatra as an artistic rebel in the 1940s who campaigned for style and class against mediocrity and a bottom-line mentality. The crooner from blue-collar Hoboken, New Jersey, spent 20 years in an ultimately triumphant struggle to own and control what he produced, yet by the 1960s, market forces compelled him to work with material alien to his personal taste. Nevertheless, observes Friedwald, whose generally perceptive criticism is laden with superlatives, Sinatra expanded his musical palette while remaining true to his heritage. The colorful, prodigiously researched narrative focuses on Sinatra's collaborations with bandleaders Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, musical arrangers Axel Stordahl, Nelson Riddle and Billy May and songwriter/orchestrator Gordon Jenkins.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 22, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306807424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306807428
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,129,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joel L. Gandelman VINE VOICE on September 2, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What better testimonial can you give to a book than saying it makes you so fired about about its subject that you want to discover more of his/her work? Will Friedwald's Sinatra! The Song is You will delight Sinatra fans and "turn on" anyone even REMOTELY interested in finding out why Sinatra was named the 20th century's Best Singer. It is without question the best book EVER written on Sinatra's music due to its style, details and because Friedwald does not pull any punches: he praises Sinatra for good work and criticizes him for work that falls short. All this is done without pretension, cutesy-ness or padding. The usual personal and professional biographical info is there, but mostly for historical context. Friedwald's interest is in Sinatra the singer -- and in Sinatra's VOICE as an instrument that developed, matured and eventually (and sadly) deteriorated. Going through each performing and recording stage of Sinatra's long career, Friedwald analyzes particular songs, explains Sinatra's trailblazing role in creating thematic "concept" albums, and gives fascinating details on how and why certain classic arrangements and songs were cut in the studio. He praises and blasts Sinatra's various arrangers. What's unquestionable is that Sinatra took this kind of music to an entirely new level. This book successfully conveys the ARTISTRY of Sinatra's music so you WANT to hear MORE. Reading this book took me from a mild to fanatical Sinatra fan as I started listening to the albums, remembering what I had read and appreciating what Sinatra was doing with his voice. Sinatra! The Song is You heightens an appreciation of a musical genre that is either on it's way out as we move into the 21st century --or waiting for a new innovative artist to come along to revive its popularity and take it to the next level.
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Format: Hardcover
Will Friedwald has deservedly won great acclaim for this highly entertaining "dissertation" on Sinatra's music: his vocal technique and style changes through the years, his classic albums, and his arrangers and studio musicians. Friedwald guides us album by album, grouped by arrangers Axel Stordahl, Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, and Billy May. Other chapters discuss his big band years and his later years. Friedwald's taste in music closely parallels my own, and I am not surprised that he is also a big fan of other great vocalists such as June Christy, Mel Torme, Ella, Chris Connor, etc. He concentrates most importantly on the concept albums and the great tracks that aren't necessarily the "big hits," but are great achievements in popular song. His suggestions on what to avoid are almost always on the mark. I was amused by his descriptions of Don Costa's "elevator music" arrangements, and of poor Linda Ronstadt, who does not fare well in this book, as some incensed readers have pointed out (lighten up! ).
Friedwald has evidently interviewed hundreds of musicians associated with Sinatra in one way or another, and therein lies the greatest strength of this book. Some of his stories told by people who were there at the time are so memorable, I still chuckle when I think of them a year after I read the book. His description of the recording sessions for the Sinatra/Ellington album are a hoot. One wonders how this album is as good as it is. Also, Billy May seems like a fun character, and also a most modest fellow.
This is the only book about Sinatra's music that the serious listener should trust when collecting his albums.
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Format: Hardcover
i bot this book as a stocking stuffer for my wife, a casual sinatra fan thinking it was just another bio. then i started reading it. it sb noted that i owned 2 sinatra discs when i bot this book, i now have about 50. this book not only helped me understand the music i had already heard, but helped me seek out & discover the 100's of lost gems in sinatra's recorded works. again-no gossip, no kitty kelly junk, a well researched bio of frank's recorded output. if theres a downside to this book, it's that it will make you want to go out & find more franks discs than you may already own, and that could be an expensive undertaking. why?...because reprise or barbara s. do not listen to fans and re-realease the same greatest hits over & over. if u want a cd copy of "she shot me down"...prepare to pay up the nose on ebay-not a real good way to handle a legacy babs. that aside, nothing better than hittin the couch on a rainy or snowy day, poor a glass of booze(neat), crank a little "only the lonely" and read this book!
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Format: Paperback
Anyone with even a mild interest in Frank's legacy should buy this book. It makes well researched and amusing reading,and is to me the finest book on popular music ever written.It helps to read an obviously great book when you agree with about 95% of his own editorializing. Every era of Mr.Sinatra's recording career,even past Duets II,and going into his last ,sometimes awkward,concerts is covered.If you want gossip,go elsewhere.Mr. Friedwald covers the personalities,from Stordahl,Riddle,May,Jenkins, and all the rest,and when you finish this book you'll feel the incredible energy, fun,and friendship that made these recordings. The fact is that Frank's canon is so great that some of my favorite recordings are not even mentioned in the index. Even Mr. Friedwald can't cover everything I guess.It's true that there are some snide comments that Mr Friedwald has for other performers,and his general contempt for rock and roll is obvious.I usually chuckled reading them since it was nice to read that the author and I agreed on the obvious. The fact is that anyone who actually knows Frank's best, and has made such an effort,must in general agree with Mr. Friedwald. For no one from the the rock era has anywhere near the oeuvre that Frank has.And in truth, the general quality of popular culture,especially music,has been in an abysmal decline for about 40 years, hopefully bottoming in the "Rap" era...This work is also a great reference,and will provide cultural enlightenment for many years to come.
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