I don't know how many of you have had the pleasure of seeing Frank Sinatra perform live. I have seen him an unlikely amount of times. Close to twenty-five. The first time, I was a wee lad, and my uncle surprised me with a ticket to the "Main Event," the very famous 1974 concert at Madison Square Garden. This was a ticket that I thought for sure would have had his then fiance's name all over it. But, that man came through. (They never married.)
"You think that's Frank," she asked. I doubted it, but we walked over to take a look. It was Frank. Tweed jacket, bright yellow shirt, and a blue tie that paled in comparison to his eyes, which we were close enough to see. If there were 20 people there, it was 10 more than it seemed. He said hello to everyone...except me. He smacked me, softly, across the cheek.
"You're too young to be a fan of mine."
Hole E. Crap.
Frank seemed like a regular guy. Not too many bodyguards if memory serves, and he wasn't much taller than me. That felt as good as the slap.
Great memory, but here's one more.
Labor Day weekend of 1989, me and two friends drove to Philly to see the opening night of the Stones' "Steel Wheels" tour at Veterans Stadium. We literally had the three worst seats available. I am pretty sure my friend Rob got smacked in the head with some landing gear from a plane minutes from touching ground. I mean, you could have gone for a beer and returned in the time it took for Charlie's snare hit to reach our section. I mean, bad seats. There is still a lawsuit happening over whether they could legally be sold as "in stadium." I mean, bad seats. But, it was a great night and a great show. As tiny and far away as Mick was, he was unmistakably Mick. The chicken walk works at any distance.
A few songs later, I joined them. They were grinning like mental patients. Sinatra was playing the following night at the MGM Grand in Atlantic City. "Should we go?" 3 more drinks and a can of Pringles later, we were back at the Holiday Inn with a plan.
I have two very distinct memories of that show. The first was, being simulcast live on the Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon. (Not my memory, but our show.) The other was, Frank's version of "Angel Eyes." The man never fails to catch me unawares, whether on record or live, as he nears the final verse, sullen, beaten and ready to call it a night, when he sings, "'scuse me, while I...disappear," and gently pulls the microphone away from his mouth. Yeah, he pulls that ace in the hole every time, but why shouldn't he?
SONGS 'N' THE HOODS