My husband gave me Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely on CD for my birthday. It had been awhile since I had listened to it.
I guess the fact that this and another called No One Cares are my favorite Sinatra albums says something about me. I love the minor key, the tune with the lonely sound.
It’s true. It’s not gratuitous or melodramatic It’s not this:
I’m losing my hearing
I’ve lost sight in one eye
I’m sorry I can’t hear you
Did you really say goodbye?
No. It’s something else. These are torch songs, sad songs of unrequited love which help you to feel all the somber moods of lost love and lost hopes. It’s the quiet resignation, the acceptance of something gone by. Why should this be so darn enjoyable? Only the Lonely evokes a mood like few things I’ve heard, and it’s so internally consistent that it’s almost impossible to separate the individual songs from the whole.
Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely was one of the earliest concept albums, a distinction to be credited to Sinatra, a distinction soon to be lost in this age of context-less, cherry-picked tune selection.
I became a Sinatra fan in the 70’s, in my teens, listening to Sinatra’s whole oevre with my Dad. We would listen to this album and I Remember Tommy, his homage to Tommy Dorsey, and various repackaged compilations. On the weekends, the radio would be tuned to our local-gone-national radio institutions Friday with Frank, and Sunday with Sinatra, hosted by Sid Mark. Mr. Mark has been producing this wall-to-wall Sinatra-only program for 57 years. Learn more here: The Sounds of Sinatra with Sid Mark
My Dad was a freight locomotive engineer but he had an excellent singing voice somewhat like Dick Haymes. When he came back from World War II, he had a new wife and needed to find a job, so there was no time to pursue the possibility of a singing career (and I doubt he really wanted to.) But he had an ear for good music.
I received a priceless education on popular music in the house in which I grew up. My oldest brother listened to The Beatles and Bob Dylan. My oldest sister experimented with pop-jazz like Herb Alpert and Brazil ’66, along with some folk like Peter, Paul and Mary, and my middle sister loved Motown. My two other brothers played everything from Chicago to Sly and the Family Stone to you name it. My Mom listened to the latest pop on the radio and classical too. I’m really grateful for the education; I shudder at the mention of homes where music wasn’t playing somewhere most of the time, or where the listening choices are so tightly micromanaged as to permit only one bland flavor, or, worst of all, where no one is particularly interested in music. Cultural education is best caught, less so taught. It needs to be liberal and broad, and I don’t say that about much. It is sadly neglected these days and we are paying a price.
The songs are: Only the Lonely, Angel Eyes, What’s New?, Willow Weep for Me, Goodbye, Blues in the Night, Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry, Ebb Tide, Spring is Here, Gone with the Wind, One for My Baby (and One More for the Road). The CD release includes Where or When.
Every one is a gem. Here are two: