Your Sunday Sinatra: “What’ll I Do?”

Frank Sinatra What'll I Do All Alone Gordon JenkinsIn the final moments of Shelley Long’s last regular episode of Cheers, an elderly Sam and Diane waltz gently together in their living room to a beautiful piece of piano music as the lights fade on a future that will never be. That would have been the first time I heard “What’ll I Do?,” minus the lyrics. I was probably 13 or 14 years old.

I would hum those bars every now and then for years after, with no clue of the song’s name, until I happened to hear Nat King Cole singing it over the sound system at Amoeba Music, the warehouse-sized music store in Hollywood, about twenty years after that episode of Cheers first aired. The clerk gave me the title, and in the rapid research that followed, I learned that “What’ll I Do?” has had a healthy history of recording since first introduced by composer Irving Berlin in the early 1920s.

Aside from Cole… Lena Horne, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Willie Nelson, Judy Garland, Crystal Gayle, Julie London, Burl Ives, even Cher and Olivia Newton-John have taken a stroll with this lovely, somber torch number.

Frank Sinatra recorded it twice: the first time was in 1947, and the second version, superior to my ears, was in 1962 for his Gordon Jenkins-produced album of waltzes entitled All Alone. It is a stand out track on a stand out album filled with songs of pensive longing, arranged in 3/4 time.

As for that episode of Cheers, some mystery issue of song clearances has erased that memorable version of “What’ll I Do?” from the episode as it now airs in syndication and reruns. In its place, a generic rights-free track that could just as easily fit into a commercial for funeral homes or in the waiting room of the dentist. Even in the embedded video above, the character voice-overs have been added, perhaps by an overly-eager fan. If you can get yourselves an early DVD release of Cheers, Season 5, it’s probably still there, in its original undisturbed state, wondering what it’ll do when it’s feeling blue, and there’s no one around to know.

Take a listen below.

sinatra_whatll_i_do.mp3

Your Sunday Sinatra: “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” – Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim

“I who was lost and lonely… believing love was only… a bitter tragic joke, have found with you, the meaning of existence, oh my love”

“Corcovado” (known in English as “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars”) was written by Anotnio Carlos Jobim and had been recorded in the early sixties by both Sergio Mendes and Miles Davis before becoming an international success when a version included on 1964’s landmark bossa nova album Gilberto/Getz , with lyrics by Gene Lees and vocals by Astrud Gilberto.  The Gilberto version is below.  Sinatra’s 1967 version from the bossa nova album Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim  follows after the jump.

quiet_nights_of_quiet_stars_gilberto.mp3

Hear Frank Sinatra’s “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars”

Frank Sinatra: “It Was a Very Good Year”

“And now I think of my life as vintage wine… From fine old kegs… From the brim to the dregs… It poured sweet and clear… It was a very good year”

Arguably the most famous Frank Sinatra song of them all, the 1965 recording of “It Was a Very Good Year” was filmed by CBS Television and used for a Walter Cronkite news special celebrating Sinatra’s 50th birthday, broadcast on November 16th of that year.

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Your Sunday Sinatra: “Come Fly With Me” – Frank Sinatra and Billy May

“If you can use some exotic booze… there’s a bar in far Bombay.
Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away.”

Show of hands, please.

Who’s not looking forward to their upcoming annual December encounter with the airport?

Sure, it’s gonna be great to see the faces of distant loved ones and family members again. But is it really worth the humiliation of standing in line for thirty minutes for the esteemed pleasure of showing off your current sock choice to complete strangers?  Do you miss Grandma so much you’re willing to say nothing to the guy next to you in the track suit, chowing down on McDonalds straight out of the grease-stained sack as he screams into his phone at the divorce attorney who seems incapable of preventing “that vindictive bitch from taking it all!”

MG is much better at handling airport happenings than I am.  He actually chit-chats with the people he finds sitting next to him at the gate.  HE ACTUALLY PURPOSELY ENGAGES IN CONVERSATION WITH THESE PEOPLE!  Apparently, he enjoys finding things out about them. Meanwhile, I’m sitting on the other side of him, slumped down, repeatedly muttering under my breath “Stop… talking to them” while debating whether or not to extend my leg and purposely trip the unattended child who’s running in circles with a drool-soaked Red Vine hanging out of its mouth.

I always walk into the airport with the best of intentions.  But I always walk out with an upset stomach, a snarling lip, and for some reason the latest issue of Macworld, a magazine that holds absolutely no interest for me whatsoever.

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Your Sunday Sinatra: “It Happened in Monterey” – Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle

“Stars and steel guitars… Luscious lips as red as wine… Broke somebody’s heart… and I’m afraid that it was mine”

“It Happened in Monterey” was written by lyricist Billy Rose and composer Mabel Wayne for the 1930 film revue King of Jazz starring Bing Crosby, John Boles, and Jeanette Loff.

The… shall we politely call it “dated”… version, as performed by Boles and Loff, is included below.  Clear the dance floor for great-gradma.  When she hears this coming out of your speakers, she’s gonna jump up, pop a rose between her teeth and bolero herself from one end of the living room to the other!

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Your Sunday Sinatra: “Baubles Bangles and Beads” – Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim

Some day… he may… buy you a ring, ringa-linga. I’ve heard that’s where it leads. Wearin’ baubles, bangles, and beads…

There’s no one bigger than The Chariman of the Board.  Hop on over to the local bar where people know your name and ask just about anyone:

 

“Baubles, Bangles and Beads” is my third Sinatra post in a row from the 1967 Bossa Nova album Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim, definitely one of Frank’s best. The song is from the 1953 American musical Kismet, set in Baghdad in the times of The Arabian Nights.

The show won the 1954 Tony for Best Musical and was made into a film by MGM in 1955, starring Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, and Dolores Gray who has her own tribute post right here at Tv Food and Drink.

Take a listen to Frank’s charmingly woozy version below:

Click to listen to Frank Sinatra’s “Baubles, Bangles and Beads”

Your Sunday Sinatra: “Dindi” – Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim

“Like a river that can’t find the sea… that would be me… without you, my Dindi.” 

“Dindi” is the second track off the 1967 album Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim.  The song was composed by Jobim especially for Brazilian jazz samba and bossa nova singer Silvia Telles, nicknamed “Dindi.”

Click through to listen to Frank Sinatra’s “Dindi”

Your Sunday Sinatra: “The Girl from Ipanema” – Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim

Sinatra’s cover of the landmark 1962 Bossa Nova song from the album “Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim”

Reward yourself with three minutes and nineteen seconds to let Frank Sinatra and Anonio Carlos Jobim remind you of why Sundays were invented with the woozy, relaxed swing of “The Girl from Ipanema,” embedded below.

Listen – Click HERE

Your Sunday Sinatra: “Moonlight in Vermont” – Frank Sinatra, John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf

“Pennies in a stream… Falling leaves a sycamore… Moonlight in Vermont”

Though you may not notice it, the lyrics to the “Moonlight in Vermont” do not rhyme. And excluding the bridge, the rest of the song is composed of haiku, the verses consisting of 17 syllables in phrases of 5, 7 and 5, respectively.

The song was originally recorded in 1944 by Margaret Whiting though it has been covered numerous times over the years by the likes of Rosemary Clooney, Jo Stafford, The Dorsey Brothers, Nat King Cole, Charlie Byrd, Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, Johnny Mathis, and Willie Nelson, whose version off the 1978 album Stardust is probably my second favorite after Sinatra’s. You also may remember it as the number Diane Keaton and Sam Shepard sway to during the town dance scene in 1987’s Baby Boom.

Sinatra’s version of the serenade to the natural beauty of our fourteenth state follows below, from the album Come Fly With Me (1958)

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