Jazz Vocals

It Was A Very Good Year


Frank Sinatra's September Of My Years was Grammy's 1965 Album Of The Year and, 45 years later, still holds pride of place in The Chairman's discography. The Concord Records re-release includes two bonus tracks, that evocative cover painting and the original liner notes by Stan Cornyn, who's writing for this project not only won him his own Grammy, but has been the subject of scholarly study.

An early forerunner of the concept album, the 15 curated cuts paint a bittersweet portrait of a man facing the realization that his best years are behind him. Sinatra was 49 when he recorded it, turning 50 with its release in conjunction with a CBS news special about the milestone birthday. The nostalgia and regret that Sinatra so honestly expresses reminds us that in the Mad Men era, 50 was considered the beginning of a man's declining years, not the mid-life point that today's boomers insist it is.

"It Was A Very Good Year" was the breakout hit, having won the Grammy for best male vocal performance. But, the lesser-known songs are jewels as well. Sinatra's phrasing and control on "How Old Am I" are poignant and revelatory. Along with the title cut, there's the familiar "September," opening with the rarely sung verse. It may have been the autumn of Sinatra's life but with his still powerful voice leavened with maturity and depth, it was indeed a very good year.