June 1, 2009

"Come Waltz with Me"

When my Sinatra obsession began, in earnest, back in 1997, I was determined to get all of the Capitol and Reprise recordings he'd done. After he died, in May of 1998, that became much easier. But still, albums such as Sinatra Sings Great Songs from Great Britain, Watertown, Sinatra & Company, or All Alone were more elusive. I ended up having to order my copy of All Alone from a rare music importer, and it came, complete with stickers proclaiming "Made in: GERMANY." That's all different now, and I think his entire catalog is readily available at Amazon (or probably iTunes) today (I could absolutely be wrong about that though). How things have changed in just ten years. Anyway, All Alone is one of those "joker cards" in the Sinatra recordings deck. And that's what this post is about, I think. If not that, it's about the "missing" title track.

From the Wikipedia:

All Alone is an album by Frank Sinatra, released in 1962.

Originally, All Alone was going to be called Come Waltz with Me. Although the title and the accompanying specially written title song were dropped before the album's release, the record remained a stately collection of waltzes, arranged and conducted by Gordon Jenkins.

All of the tracks on the album are torch songs, hence the lonely name of the album. Almost half of the tracks are written by Irving Berlin.

The cover is a trimmed portion of painting that hung in Sinatra's Palm Springs home.

So, I love the idea that All Alone started off as a concept album, along the lines of those classic 1950s Capitol albums, Come Fly with Me, Come Dance with Me!, and Come Swing with Me!. Still, it's not one of Sinatra's best works, probably the reason why it's relatively unknown. Will Friedwald puts it this way:

"In analyzing Sinatra's career in hindsight, like a team of Monday morning quarterbacks, we can be fairly accurately reconstruct his decisions to do certain records...In a million years, however, we'll never be able to figure out--and the Old Man himself has doubtless forgotten--how he conceived of Come Waltz with Me album, which was released as All Alone, a set of archaic ballads, primarily from the teens and twenties, rendered in waltz time." (Sinatra! The Song Is You: A Singer's Art, p. 343)

Friedwald theorizes Sinatra may have feared "legal entanglements" with Capitol Records, and felt pressure to change the title from Come Waltz with Me to All Alone. This would have happened even after he'd commissioned Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen to write the title track (as they'd done for the singer on Come Fly with Me and Come Dance with Me!). The author also proposes that "Come Waltz with Me" had comparatively too "bright" of an intro and slightly faster tempo than the other album selections. So, it was dropped from the album. Thirty years later, the 1992 CD of All Alone restored the missing track. Ironically, other than the "new" title track, "All Alone," or the classic "The Girl Next Door," it is my favorite song on the whole album. I just love it, with its haunting melodic twists:

"Come Waltz with Me"


Retro Hound said...

I'm lovin' your Sinatra posts.

Chris said...

Thank you, thank you!