March 6, 2010

"Hello, Young Lovers"

I find this Frank Sinatra performance of "Hello, Young Lovers" to be very poignant. The date was May 5, 1951, and it was on The Frank Sinatra Show. Sinatra's career was virtually unrecognizable from what it had been at its pinnacle in the mid-40s. At moments throughout this particular episode, Sinatra seemed to be trying way too hard; desperate even - smiling a little bit too easily and often, nervous, stumbling over his words in several places, not to mention the pencil-thin mustache. It's a little unnerving to watch a Sinatra who isn't confident. But I guess that's what happens to a guy when he falls from the very top of the Hollywood food chain, and everyone (but a few) kicks him as he falls.

More about The Frank Sinatra Show from this site:

It was a low point in the singer's career. His record sales declining, dumped by his movie studio, his radio series canceled, and perhaps most frighteningly, sidelined for over a month with a ruptured vocal cord, Frank Sinatra was in the depths of despair. He was dogged by bad press, due to an affair with movie star Ava Gardner while still married to first wife Nancy. It didn't help that his thin skin and ill temper (not to mention an overindulgence in alcohol) sometimes fueled violent confrontations with reporters and photographers he felt had wronged him.

So it was that, in 1950, Sinatra found himself casting about for a vehicle that could help him resuscitate his career. Television was the new thing and had helped a number of has-been entertainers, so why not give it a try?

The show was plagued with problems right off the bat, suffering from disappointing ratings, a high turnover in personnel, and a shortage of sponsor support.


But on this evening, he had his voice. Sinatra sang "When You're Smiling," "If," a duet with June Hutton on "My Romance," and as a lonely figure, wringing his hands while strolling quickly out into the bright spotlight of a darkened stage, "Hello, Young Lovers." Maybe I read too much into these things, but it's as if he's appealing directly to his Bobby Soxer fans, who'd all grown up and lost interest, to like him anew ("Hey! Remember me?"):

The fact this is at the Paramount Theatre, where the whole "Swoonatra" craze began in 1942, just adds an extra layer of Sturm und Drang (or angst).

Better days would come for Francis Albert Sinatra...

7 comments:

M said...

That just made me feel sad. How about Sinatra in "Guys and Dolls" or "The Man With The Golden Arm"...not sad Sinatra :( although I suppose that is only an opinion

tony said...

Being Perfectly Frank !

M said...

Meaning? It was the state of his career at that point that made me feel sad.

Chris said...

m-

Thanks for the suggestion. I need to look again at Man with the Golden Arm. Although not necessarily a happier movie, I'd agree that it was a much better time in his career. I find this phase (early '50s) to be inspiring, and such an important part of the Sinatra "mythology."

Just being perfectly frank, as tony put it. But you are correct about it being sad. I did say it was poignant at the beginning of the post, so I warned you ;)

M said...

I was forewarned, it's true...more small town Texas coming up anytime soon?

Chris said...

I'm planning a trip to Shamrock (in the Panhandle, Old Route 66 goes right through it) and will probably go in the next day or so. I should get some great stuff there and on the way.

I've been focusing on Louisiana -- in fact, I went to Deridder and Leesville just today.

M said...

looking forward to seeing what you come back with!