Saturday, June 12, 2010

Frank The Voice by James Kaplan

Frank: The Voice Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Along with Buster Keaton, Marcel Duchamp, Howard Hughes, Duke Ellington, Louise Brooks and Fritz Lang, I think Frank Sinatra is an icon of the 20th Century - or in many ways he is the 20th Century. Famous, but still a mystery, and a man who saw things differently then everyone else. James Kaplan, the biographer, sees him as a genius, and if that is true, then he is a man pretty much made up by his inner personality - which is insecurity, doubt, and pure instinct.

The plus side of the book is that it deals with Sinatra from birth to 1954. Professionally speaking, a bumpy ride to end all bumpy rides. He went from being an early teen star to the bottom of the heap, to the top again - but over time he became a great recorder of human emotion via his music.

So the book in ways reads like a fictional narrative where it starts off good, the middle part is despair, and the ending is hopeful for a better future. And all of this pretty much has a strong second character Ava Gardner, the muse, the wife, and demon for Mr. Sinatra. In many ways a perfect couple, in the Sinatra world, but in reality it must have been a total mixture of boredom, total despair, and pure blissfulness all in parts, but never put together like a perfect cocktail drink.

Although the book doesn't cover the entire 1950's, which I consider to be the golden age of Sinatra-life, due to making perhaps the first of a series of conceptual albums with a particular theme for capital Records. Those series of albums are without doubt landmark albums, and they are made to play all the way through from the first song to the last.

So yes, the book ends in 1954, my birth year, and also one can argue the beginning of commercial white Rock n' Roll with respect to Elvis hitting Sun Studios. This decade he would grow as an artist, and yet the doubt lurks in the murky background....

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