Jazz Vocals

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He Did It His Way

07 MAY 09 ANNE FARNSWORTH

In 1969, 54-year-old Frank Sinatra was in his mature phase, his whiskey-soaked sound deepened by a life of exuberant living. My Way, one of his most popular albums, is being celebrated with a 40th Anniversary Edition (Concord), with fun extras like new liner notes by Bono. Still in full command of his instrument, Sinatra's confidence and pure enjoyment shine on every cut.

The banter between Sinatra and the orchestra during a bonus rehearsal track of "For Once In My Life" reveals mutual respect as well as the Chairman's executive style. Following a "that was thrilling!" to the band, he gently admonishes after a somewhat sloppy intro, "You better keep your eye on me, 'cause I ain't coming 'round here no more."

Like many of his peers, Sinatra experimented with pop songs. They fit seamlessly with the more traditional tunes, thanks in part to the brilliantly swinging arrangements by longtime conductor Don Costa (father of Stax artist Nikka Costa).

And Sinatra wasn't afraid to put his own spin on the lyrics. His redo of Paul Simon's "Mrs. Robinson" is hilarious, from the insidery shoutout to his old friend ("Jilly loves you more than you could know"), to a revamped chorus admonishing the lady that they "won't okay the way you do your thing. Ding, ding ding" when "fooling with that young stuff like you do. Woo, woo, woo." It's all Vegas, baby -- silly and devil-may-care and, hey, who wants another round?