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In celebration of His Way

ANUSHA NARAIN
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Music Frank Sinatra was the king of comebacks. 12-12-12 was his birth anniversary and we doff our hats to Ol’ Blue Eyes’ indomitable spirit

“You know that old thing, live fast, die young? Not my way. Live fast, sure, but die young?  Die old!  That’s the way,” Sinatra didn’t say this, but he might as well have because he sure lived by the philosophy.

Francis A. Sinatra lived to a ripe old age of 82. The younger geniuses, suffered from the Elvis syndrome ( a person’s inability to handle success), got high and burned out, but Ol’ Blue eyes was not going to join the ‘died young’ club. The leader of the Rat Pack was way too cool to give in so early and easily.

He lived a full life. In his own words, “I would like to be remembered as a man who had a wonderful time living life, a man who had good friends, fine family — I don’t think I could ask for more than that actually.”

The first among equals

Often dubbed the first pop star, Sinatra was born in the U.S. on December 12, 1915 to Italian immigrant parents. Sinatra started his career as a singer with Columbia Records and reached an iconic status as a singer and actor by the mid-1940s. He starred in superhits such as It Happened In Brooklyn , Anchors Aweigh and On The Town . In short, he was the Elvis, the Beatles, the Michael Jackson, the Justin Beiber of the 1940s, only he was also a well established actor.  And as everything that goes up must come down, Sinatra’s star also began to fade by the late 1940s. And by the early 1950s along came Elvis to steal his fans.

On the personal front, he had his heart broken by Ava Gardner. Now this is when he could have gone down. The story was following the oft-repeated pattern: Talented boy with humble beginnings makes it big; he gets carried away; he indulges in excesses, and then one day he realises he is not the hottest thing anymore. From here on, he is on a downward spiral ending in death.     

But at this point there was a twist in the Sinatra tale. He picked himself up and got back in the race and saw a second coming. In the second phase, he went on to immortalise the character of Angelo Maggio ( From Here To Eternity ), for which he won an Oscar. He recorded hugely successful albums such as Only The Lonely and In The Wee Hours Of The Morning ; and his magnum opus, Strangers In The Night .

Another slump in his career sent him into retirement in 1972. He was not staying down. With a little help from his long-time pal Gene Kelley, he was back to performing and continued to do shows until just before his death in 1998.

Noted music journalist Pete Hamill said, “Men often saw the world in sports terms. One thing they knew about prizefighters, for example, was that you never knew what a fighter was made of until he had been knocked down. Second-raters stayed down and took the count. The great ones always go up. Sinatra got up.”

Sinatra remained as steady as a rock while others crumbled.  

Sinatra would have turned 97 this year. The legacy of his dogged spirit remains. His voice still rises heavenwards from open windows. His bluest eyes still shine. Sinatra lives.

ANUSHA NARAIN



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