Due to my own stupidity and lack of foresight, many years ago I sold a fine hi-fi system in favour of not having anything at all to play music on so convinced was I that in the brave new world of MP3 we would not require a stack of amplifiers and media playing technology we would only need a computer and maybe a small device that held your complete record collection and would slip into a shirt pocket, and in doing so I instantly made my impressive collection of LP’s completely redundant.
So they remain to this day safely packed away in plastic storage boxes and stuffed into the corner of the loft in this here house surviving three house moves at which point the wife always asks, “Do you really need those…” and I always remind her that the terms of the exclusion order specifically state that she is not to be let within ten yards of my album collection after what she did to my singles collection in 1983.
Its no secret that my father was Frank Sinatra, that much is known.
That is, as a young child I believed my father to be the same Frank Sinatra that crooned on the large but modernistic (in a 1960s way) radio that stood on our sideboard and played constantly throughout the day and as I heard the radio Frank Sinatra sing “That Old Black Magic” so many times throughout the year, and being aware that your fathers name was also Frank, it was obvious to a four year old that when your father Frank got up on stage to take the Wallis’s Holiday Camp Talent Contest by storm (again) with his rendition of “That Old Black Magic” then he simply must be the same Frank from the radio set and that was that, no argument from me there then.
And so I grew up in a household where the crooners of the 1940s sung constantly the the 1960s radio and as they sang so did my father and unbeknown to me he sang everywhere else that he socialised (and he socialised a lot), for my father would not visit a licensed premise unless there was “a turn” on, some sort of live musical entertainment, and preferably some time allocated to anyone with a mind to sing to stand on a stage with an microphone and regal the audience with a rendition of “that Old Black Magic” or another favourite of his “Thats Why The Lady Is A Tramp”, he roamed the bars and clubs of this city singing for beer, and when he retired he did the same in Benidorm, my father was Frank Sinatra and I don’t care who knows.
And so it came to pass that in the early 1970s the radio Frank Sinatra announced his retirement from performing and recording and the world and my fathers repertoire was a sadder place for the lack of new Sinatra material, he dusted down the Sinatra LP’s in his section of the rack in which they stood and resigned himself to the fact that his fans would have to make do with “Lady Is A Tramp” and nothing else from now on.
But then as suddenly as he had retired the radio Frank Sinatra announced his comeback, well why not, Elvis had done it after all and there was still money to be earned out there from the likes of my father, and Christmas 1973 brought a new Sinatra album into our house, “Ol Blue Eyes Is Back”.
You can bet that it got played to death.
Play any track from this album now and its Sunday morning in our house, early Sunday morning just before my Father would prepare to go to the first of the days church services, he’d rise early, enjoy breakfast with a sing-alonga-Ol-Blue-Eyes and then go to the early morning church service…
Of course i jest, my father would no more walk willingly into a church than admit that foreign food, especially Italian food, was edible in any way, if my father had turned up at our local church for an early morning service then the church spire would have fallen off in shock, no, my father arose early on a Sunday in order to enjoy a quick breakfast-alonga-Ol-Blue-Eyes so that he could make it to his early tee off at the golf club, a leisurely morning spent whacking a ball around the boundaries at Rawdon, a couple of pints in the bar and then home for Sunday dinner and woe betide anyone who ever suggested that that routine would be broken, he even complained when the wife and I planned our wedding for a Saturday in Whitley Bay because it meant he’d have to stop over and miss his Sunday morning golf session, he actually tried to persuade my mother that it would be a good idea for him to drive them the 100 miles home on the Saturday night, he being several sheets to the wind of course, so that he wouldn’t miss the golf.
So he and I would sit there very early every Sunday morning munching on bowls of corn flakes and we’d be crooned at by the radio Frank Sinatra and the 17 year old me would hope that the neighbours never peeked in the window to spy me, in all my youth, listening to the radio Frank Sinatra and apparently enjoying the experience whilst out there in the rest of the world my contemporaries were wearing glitter make-up, high heels and flares (and that was just the lads) and appreciating the likes of Slade and Marc Bolan as crooners of their choice.
I played the album again very recently and I remembered every word of every song, such is my fathers legacy, he made me like the radio Frank Sinatra by means of osmosis over many years, you could probably make a case to take to the European Court of Human Rights over it these days.
In retrospect of course these memories are all we have left of the past that has moulded our personalities, those early Sunday mornings sitting in the living room with my father, neither of us speaking to the other but both sharing (however unwillingly) a taste in at least one album of music in the days when musical taste rarely bridged the generations, those are the moments that I would gladly relive for whatever price you name – and at the time we just don’t appreciate the fact that one day this moment will be a stand-out memory.