December 15, 2006

"Stardust"

My interest fixation obsession with Frank Sinatra started after I bought The Very Best of Frank Sinatra (best of the Reprise years) when it came out in 1997. I got it completely on a whim, being generally bored with rock and roll and pop music at the time. When I first listened to it, and track one ("Stardust") started to play, I was immediately hooked. The power and resonance of his voice, the precision and clarity with which he made sure every consonant was clearly heard, the passion and feeling - I finally got "Frank Sinatra." So this is why people love him! It all started for me with "Stardust." And to begin a best of CD featuring music of forty years earlier with a song written with these lyrics (by Hoagy Carmichael)?:

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we're apart

You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by.


Brilliant. Before I really even knew anything about Sinatra, I had a sense of his history.

That version of "Stardust" was recorded in 1961 for the Sinatra and Strings album. Oddly enough, it's not even the complete song. Here is what Will Friedwald says about it in the excellent Sinatra! the Song Is You: A Singer's Art :

"Stardust plays on the idea of delaying the instant of recognition (of what song it is), which you might think he had already taken to its furthest extreme in "Let's Fall in Love" (on Ring-a-Ding Ding). Here he puts it off for so long that the record's over even before we reach this epiphanous moment - which is a fancy way of saying that Sinatra's "Stardust" contains only the verse, a decision that supposedly teed off Hoagy Carmichael to no end. ("I wrote a whole song, not just a verse!" he allegedly exclaimed on hearing the track.)


But Sinatra had recorded the entire song back on 1941 November 11, 1940, when he was the boy singer for the Tommy Dorsey band. Here is footage of Frankie performing it (without the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra) on "Your Hit Parade" in 1943. Check out the Lucky Strike commercial at the beginning:

6 comments:

Henrik, Sweden said...

Oh, yes - the 1961 version is flawless and innovative. Don Costa has had his share (some fair, some unfair) of complaints from Sinatra-fans over the years. But "Sinatra & Strings" is brilliant: one of my all-time favorite albums with The Chairman.

(Small, somewhat picky detail: the recording with Dorsey was done 11/11 1940)

Chris said...

henrik-

Thanks for pointing out the correct date! I appreciate it. I actually got that date from the video description at YouTube.

Don Costa arranged one great Sinatra album - Sinatra and Strings. It is a brilliant album. "I Hadn't Anyone Till You" is absolutely beautiful.

Dorothy said...

You might have a conniption over this, but I think the Nat King Cole version is the definitive "Stardust". One of my favorite songs. Another direst hit; keep up the good work, Chris!

Chris said...

dorothy-

I must confess - I've never heard the Nat King Cole version. I'm going to iTunes to check it out. I doubt I like it more than Frank's, but we'll see...

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Using the phrase "got Sinatra" is so hipster, poser, pathetic.

Chris said...

About as pathetic as you anonymously (cowardly) leaving a bitchy comment on a nine-year-old blog post.