Steve Hansen: Remembering ‘Ol’Blue Eyes’ music


Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

The world is battling ISIS, the Republicans are battling Donald Trump, and Washington is playing brinksmanship with the federal budget again. Nothing new there and it’s all too negative for the holidays.

So, I tell myself, why don’t I write about Frank Sinatra? His 100th birthday was celebrated last week.  That I can talk about.

When young enough to think I’d change the world, I focused on Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Doors, et al.  My friends and I ridiculed Sinatra.

Our parents adored him. “Why?” we’d ask, and they’d tell us reverently, “Because You Can Understand All the Words.”

Yeah, like “Scooby dooby, doo-oo.”

Eventually my musical tastes broadened. The rock of the late ’60s and early ’70s, as great as it was, has worn thin since I’ve heard too much of it too often.

When I started really listening to other kinds of music, I developed a deep appreciation for Sinatra.

You could understand the words and their meaning. No one could interpret a song like Sinatra, especially lyrics written by lyric poets like Johnny Mercer (“One for my Baby” and “Autumn Leaves”).

As an instrumental musician, I could also appreciate how Sinatra inspired masters like Count Basie and Nelson Riddle to pen superb accompaniments for his interpretations.

My favorite Sinatra album continues to be “Sinatra at the Sands,” recorded live in 1966 before a “Mad Men” crowd of well-dressed, affluent pleasure-seekers in Las Vegas.

Behind Sinatra was Count Basie’s big band, playing power-packed arrangements written by a young Quincy Jones, who also went on to a long, illustrious career.

“Now that,” as our parents used to tell us, “was music!’

A surprising number of rock and pop musicians now list Sinatra among their inspirations, including Bono of U2,  Alicia Keys, and even David Lee Roth of Van Halen. Even rappers admit a debt to Sinatra, the chairman of the board, for style.

Sinatra died in 1998 at age 82. He gave his last concert just three years before.

He was also a tough guy who endured. There’s a lot to be admired there, too.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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