Writings about Music
Sinatra and Sleep
Part of Frank Sinatra's musical magic came from an individual, personal relationship with sleep, blurring the distinctions between dreaming and wakefulness tempered to conjure optimum vocal and expressive yield. This relates to a Bob Dylan ideal endeavoring living life as if in a dream, touching upon interchanging states of fantasy and reality where Sinatra was well-versed from film acting experience, a second profession informing his profoundly deep interpretive gift bringing to life song lyrics, regarding them as even more essential than the music they're wedded to. It is this expressive depth that sets Sinatra apart from all other jazz singers, whereby he illuminates the unique rasa of each song in truly miraculous fashion. Additionally, Sinatra's musical subtleties are also unmatched in terms of rhythmic and melodic nuance. In terms of specifics regarding sleeping hours, Sinatra's preference was going to sleep only after dawn, while rising in the afternoon, and sometimes having only a few hours of sleep.
Frank Sinatra sings every song as if it were his one and only personal favorite; as if each song were the only song that existed in the world, or as if it were the only song that would ever be heard again before silence brought an end to all music.
He was an ace perfectionist setting standards so high even music geniuses like Lester Young, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Lee Konitz and Miles Davis revered and emulated him in their own way among myriad others. My god, he even has myself, a computer music composer who studied in the Ravi Shankar gharana, completely awestruck. That's transcendence, touching people in so many different genres.
Needless to say, a good deal of my musical growth appreciating Sinatra's music comes from listening to "Weekends with Sinatra and Sharell" hosted by Jerry Sharell on KJazz in Los Angeles, including how Jerry finds keys into Sinatra's art through recordings not as common, and insightful commentary.
In these trying times, one practice is going to sleep with Frank Sinatra on loop play at a low, barely audible level. When I was a teenager taking piano lessons from the great Barney Bragin, he suggested doing this with Bach, and I wish he was still with us so we could discuss how I'm now doing the same with a saloon singer.
- Michael Robinson, April 2020, Los Angeles
© 2020 Michael Robinson All rights reserved
Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist)