I’ve only had one chance to see Frank Sinatra live in concert, and for a change, I didn’t blow it.
Incredibly, that was 20 years ago already, when Ol’ Blue Eyes (1915-1998) appeared at Bloomington’s long-gone Met Center for the Super Bowl weekend concert.
1992 was the only year that Minnesota hosted football’s biggest event, and to my knowledge, that was Sinatra’s last Minnesota performance.
Even though at age 76, he was well past his prime (he had to use a teleprompter for some help with the lyrics), it was an unforgettable — and swinging — evening, with son Frank Jr. leading the orchestra.
He remains a legend — as his official website takes pains to point out — though it may be stretching things a bit to call the often-controversial guy “a beloved entertainer for six decades.” It rightly notes, though, an amazing array of awards: “Sinatra earned three Oscars, three Golden Globes, including the Cecil B. DeMille Award, ten personal Grammys (and a total of 20 for his albums), an Emmy, a Peabody, and the Kennedy Center Honors Award in 1983.”
And he’s still a hot commodity 14 years after his death.
Amazon, for example, lists scads of books, more than 150, including a handful in the last two years (among them, “Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank,” by Barbara Sinatra, wife No. 4, and Kitty Kelley’s catty, unauthorized biography, “His Way”).
And, of course, there’s the weekly syndicated radio show “Sounds of Sinatra,” which airs from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays on KLBB, 1220 AM.
And there’s even a local salute to Sinatra coming up. “Nice & Easy: A Tribute to the Music of Frank Sinatra” is set for April 14 and 15 at the Capri Theater in Minneapolis.
In case you can’t make it, try checking out 15 of my Sinatra favorites (I purposely left out several of his most well-known “anthems”). You’ll find at least one surprise.
15. “Can I Steal a Little Love,” with some clever word play.
And — the result of close friendships — his political version of the song, touting JFK for the 1960 presidential election.
13. The melancholy “World We Knew (Over and Over).”
12. His wicked “Witchcraft.”
10. A very smoky version of “I Get a Kick Out of You” (with one of the many cleaned-up versions of the Cole Porter lyrics).
9. His take on the standard “The Lady Is a Tramp.”
8. Frank’s touching version of “Softly, As I Leave You.”
6. “Summer Wind,” reminiscences of an idylic summer with all those “painted kites.”
5. “Nice ‘N’ Easy,” a classic updated “nicely” with new lyrics for Gene Kelly.
3. “Old Devil Moon,” making the razzle-dazzle song from Broadway “Finian’s Rainbow” his own.
2. “(How Little It Matters) How Little We Know,” complete with the great lyrics about what happens when “two tingles intermingle.”
1. “All or Nothing at All,” where he’s drowning in that “undertow” of love.