Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan

There’s something transcendent in Frank Sinatra’s voice.  You can describe it as poetically as you like, but it’s something undefinable that he knew he had, understood what it was, and honed for maximum benefit.  With that skill, combined with an intimate understanding of the songs he sang, he would move anyone to joy or to tears.  He could make you feel loneliness or desperation or longing.  In the days of the Big Bands, Sinatra was the vocalist who caused the ladies to abandon their guys on the dance floor and gather around the microphone.  He would go on to record over 1300 tracks and leave a legacy as one of the greatest vocalists of the 20th century, if not (arguably) of all time.

This book looks into the life of the man behind the voice, a peek behind the curtain at where all of that emotion comes from, how he learned to harness it, and what happened when it was unleashed without direction.  Straight from Sinatra’s own words, we learn that he was only ever afraid of two people: his mother and Tommy Dorsey.  From humble beginnings in a world of toughs, Sinatra’s rise, fall, and roller coaster ride through to 1954 is chronicled here in a voice reminiscent of Frank’s own speech patterns.  Between Kaplan’s writing and Shapiro’s narration, this is about as close to perfection as a biography can get in terms of style and tone.

The downside is that, as I mentioned, this book does stop abruptly in 1954.  The good news is that in a couple of months, the sequel will arrive, Sinatra: The Chairman.  It will most definitely be on my reading list as soon as it drops.

5 stars


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