This biography qualifies for my 2016 reading challenge as the “book I own but never read.” I’ve owned two copies of this book, hard back and audio, for many years now but I never ‘found the time’ to read either. I think in part because of the size, I knew it would be a large time commitment. The other half of that argument I found represented in the best meme to date:
Let me start first by saying: It was worth every single minute, page, word committed.
The authors Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, thoroughly researched this book. It’s been a long time since I’ve read such a strategically thought out biography. Truly. The structure followed (for the most part) from the beginning of Frank Sinatra’s life and his parentage through his death, with limited veering from the timeline. Sinatra managed to cover some hot topics such as: The Mob, JFK Life and Death, The Mob, All 4 Wives and 400 Mistresses, The Mob, Singing Career, The Mob, Acting, The Mob, His Charitable Nature, and even The Mob…again. I always wondered how deeply rooted Sinatra was with the Mob, and this biography paints a very colorful story I’m sure would make the very private Sinatra roll in his grave.
Summers and Swan made me reassess the love of my musical life, a little. Like every person breathing, Sinatra was human. As humans we all make mistakes and some of them are worse then others. Sinatra lived a very… is ‘active’ (pun only partially intended) the right word here?… a very unique life.
Musically speaking I was a bit on the sheltered side. Some might argue the opposite, my parents for sure but it wasn’t until I was 16 that I discovered life outside of 80s rock. This might be great for someone a few years older then myself but my formative middle and high school years were in the late 90s and early 2000s (graduating class of 2003 here). Growing up in the most north west corner of the united states meant that Canada was closer then Seattle, offered better hangout places, the only local TV and radio (also why my accent is accused of being Canadian – not that I’ll admit to having an accent in the first place). Which effected my choices of what to watch and listen too- also this contributed to missing a lot of the very popular types of music and TV (Meh). This combined with the cost of CD players in the 90s and my lack of radio control all equaled believing that the coolest music in the world was accessed through my parent’s record and CD collection. It was a lot of Guns and Roses, Heart, Meatloaf, Alice Cooper, Eagles, and Cindy Lauper. My first tape was a mix and my favorite song was Joan Jet’s version of Crimson and Clover. In fact I think I still have it in a box somewhere. So sweet 16 came along and I got my first car. To me, this meant control over the radio. Holly shit world, there is so much music! Gods forbid I run with the crowd on this one, no… I fell in love with Sinatra instead. So while my friends were in the world of boy bands (which is a funny story for another time) I was in love with Frankie Blue Eyes.
Reading this book meant taking the chance that I’d be so disgusted with someone I loved. But I guess that’s the thing about love. It means loving the person whole, flaws and all. Loving them for everything they are: good, bad, and the ugly. I worried for nothing. I still love Frank despite his severely rooted Mob ties, his drinking, the 400 mistress, and his often angry take on life. His music makes me swoon still today. I can’t help but stop whatever I’m doing to listen. A girl doesn’t take 10 years hunting down a specific record to find the only version of a song she loves, to fall out of love by some words in a book. Even if that book doesn’t always paint the man so nicely. While this post has taken a mind of it’s own, Sinatra was a gripping detailed portrait of a man the world loved through music and movies. I was no exception. While not always kind with words, the authors seemed to be as unbiased as possible in their work which I appreciated. At the end of the day when all is said and done, I would recommend it wholeheartedly.