“You’re the Top,” Frank Sinatra!

Jul 20, 2014 | 1:57 PM

frank_sinatra_singing

Frank Sinatra in 1964

  Who's the most important person on Wikipedia? Well, according to an official online study, it's one of my favorite crooners, Frank Sinatra! Dreamy Ol' Blue Eyes ranks above even the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.   It should be no surprise then that Frank Sinatra's first New Jersey driver's license just commanded an impressive sum at an auction a few weeks ago. It was sold to a lucky but undisclosed bidder for 15,575 big ones. Young Frank paid just three bucks for the license a whopping 80 years ago when he was a 19-year-old kid named Francis living in Hoboken.  
frank-sinatras-first-new-jersey-license

Looks like the good folks at the DMV didn't know how to spell "Sinatra" yet!

  Because the late, great "Chairman of the Board" and I have at least one thing in common (our big, big love of the American Songbook), I want to remember him today by sharing some of my favorite performances!   Check out this perky performance by Broadway belter Ethel Merman and Frank singing Cole Porter's "You're the Top" on the Colgate Comedy Hour in 1954. It's no secret I dig a good Porter tune!

  Eleven years later, on June 20, 1965, Mr. Sinatra and his Rat Pack pals Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin sang jaunty little number "The Birth of the Blues" alongside The Count Basie Band at the Old Kiel Opera House in St. Louis, Missouri. Johnny Carson was filling in for an ailing Joey Bishop as emcee and ended up making that trio a quartet.  

Very special guest performers that night included Sinatra's wife Barbara and daughter Tina, Martin's wife Jeanne, Sammy's mother Elvira, and Angie Dickinson. Who wouldn't kill to be on that bill?   In 1966, dad and daughter duo Frank and Nancy Sinatra did an adorable “Downtown”/“These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” mashup on one of his widely watched TV specials. And boy can you feel the love they had for each other! Though they'd been singing together for years, this was the official beginning of their public collaboration.  

  And how about Frank Sinatra singing this super laid-back interpretation of "The Best is Yet to Come," one of MY favorite songs? There he is, swingin' away again with Count Basie and his band in 1981. He first released the song on 1964's It Might As Well Be Swing, backed up again by Count and his orchestra, directed by the legendary Quincy Jones.

"The Best is Yet to Come" was the final song Frank sang publicly in 1995. While it was written for and first introduced by Tony Bennett, Sinatra made it famous. It's even etched on his tombstone!   FrankSinatraTombstone   I love this little ditty so much, I covered it on my first album, Swingin' from the Hip!

So, my fellow Frank-o-philes -- How about leaving some of your favorite videos and memories in the comments section?   xoxo,  

Isabel

 

6 thoughts on ““You’re the Top,” Frank Sinatra!”

  1. Bruce Thomas     Reply

    Simply a wonderful piece. My grandmother was huge fan of Frank, but I never got it (until now). Thanks for introducing something new to me.

    • Isabel Rose     Reply

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Paul     Reply

    Bing Crosby was asked about Sinatra’s popularity in the early 70s. and Bing said it was because he was the only one of their generation that appealed to so many generations of that day. And it continues. Love it!

  3. Paul     Reply

    Another thing I get a kick out of is that Cole Porter was gay, and knowing the lingo of what top and bottom means today brings a whole meaning to, “But if, baby, I’m the bottom you’re the top!” I’m sure it was intended as innuendo, but how many great singers sang this song innocent of what that meant? Hilarious.

    • Isabel Rose     Reply

      I suppose it’s just one of those great classic songs that goes both ways!

      • Bruce Thomas     Reply

        GROAN! Rimshot, please! You are SO bad, Isabel!

Leave a Comment