The Frank Sinatra Influence

Sinatra. Frank. Ol’ Blue Eyes. The Voice.  A man of many names, but a man who always emulated style and grace.  Due to the recent odes to Mr. Sinatra from Mr. Porter and Jonathan Daniel Pryce, I decided to put down some of my own thoughts about Ol’ Blue Eyes.

It is no secret that Frank Sinatra is an iconic figure, and if you read SbN, it is no secret he is one of my personal style icons.  Sinatra always boasted an attention to the details, but always drew attention to the man himself more than anything else.  His style, his suit, the ‘way he wore his hat’, the way he held himself, his overall swagger – it went far beyond what he was wearing that made him such an iconic figure and thus making a lasting impression, even after his death.  This is what I find most intriguing about Mr. Sinatra.  Yes, he knew how to rock a suit, nailed every element of black tie, had the (deep) voice of an angel, and was an exceptional actor – these are the obvious.  It’s the way he did all those things that made him so special.

Sinatra has been in my life for as long as I can remember.  There isn’t a point in history where I can pin down exactly the first time Frank impacted my life because he has always been there.  A family favorite, I was probably the only 10 year old who could recite word-for-word all the Sinatra classics.  The older woman in my family (who got to see Sinatra in his prime) with a school-girl’s excitement still talk of his good looks and charming manner that made him so appealing, and the men still speak of him as the standard.  Frank Sinatra impacted so many during his time and was impacting mine through the people he touched.  

As a kid, I really only knew him as a singer.  I never thought twice about being a fan of a man who was part of a different era.  It wasn’t until I started getting older that he started to resonate with me more and more.  I began watching a lot of his movies, listening to songs that were never really main stream for him, and just appreciated him all over again in a different way.  He really had his own way of doing things, and as I began learning more of myself, there was more Sinatra in the process.  To this day, I feel like Sinatra is more relevant than ever.  I put my music on shuffle and a Sinatra song will come up probably every 10th song.  Nothing he has done ever feels old to me, and I will continue to feel that way whether its his music, a movie, his suit, or whatever else it may be.

Style-wise, Sinatra will always be an inspiration.  I may not agree with all his sartorial preferences (I do agree with most), but the way he did it is what has the biggest impact on me.  Like I said, it goes beyond his tuxedos, bespoke suits, orange pocket square, wool hats, and attention to detail.  He did it his way, and I will never deny the fact that he’s influenced me doing it “my way.”

I do not own the rights to any of these photos.

Frank Sinatra on Religion (like a boss)
  • Playboy:From what you’ve said, it seems that we’ll have to learn something of what makes you tick as a man in order to understand what motivates you as an entertainer. Would it be all right with you if we attempt to do just that—by exploring a few of the fundamental beliefs which move and shape your life?
  • Sinatra:Look, pal, is this going to be an ocean cruise or a quick sail around the harbor? Like you, I think, I feel, I wonder. I know some things, I believe in a thousand things, and I’m curious about a million more. Be more specific.
  • Playboy:All right, let’s start with the most basic question there is: Are you a religious man? Do you believe in God?
  • Sinatra:Well, that’ll do for openers. I think I can sum up my religious feelings in a couple of paragraphs. First: I believe in you and me. I’m like Albert Schweitzer and Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein in that I have a respect for life—in any form. I believe in nature, in the birds, the sea, the sky, in everything I can see or that there is real evidence for. If these things are what you mean by God, then I believe in God. But I don’t believe in a personal God to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice. I’m not unmindful of man’s seeming need for faith; I’m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. But to me religion is a deeply personal thing in which man and God go it alone together, without the witch doctor in the middle. The witch doctor tries to convince us that we have to ask God for help, to spell out to him what we need, even to bribe him with prayer or cash on the line. Well, I believe that God knows what each of us wants and needs. It’s not necessary for us to make it to church on Sunday to reach Him. You can find Him anyplace. And if that sounds heretical, my source is pretty good: Matthew, Five to Seven, The Sermon on the Mount.
  • Playboy:You haven’t found any answers for yourself in organized religion?
  • Sinatra:There are things about organized religion which I resent. Christ is revered as the Prince of Peace, but more blood has been shed in His name than any other figure in history. You show me one step forward in the name of religion and I’ll show you a hundred retrogressions. Remember, they were men of God who destroyed the educational treasures at Alexandria, who perpetrated the Inquisition in Spain, who burned the witches at Salem. Over 25,000 organized religions flourish on this planet, but the followers of each think all the others are miserably misguided and probably evil as well. In India they worship white cows, monkeys and a dip in the Ganges. The Moslems accept slavery and prepare for Allah, who promises wine and revirginated women. And witch doctors aren’t just in Africa. If you look in the L.A. papers of a Sunday morning, you’ll see the local variety advertising their wares like suits with two pairs of pants.
  • Playboy:Hasn’t religious faith just as often served as a civilizing influence?
  • Sinatra:Remember that leering, cursing lynch mob in Little Rock reviling a meek, innocent little 12-year-old Negro girl as she tried to enroll in public school? Weren’t they—or most of them—devout churchgoers? I detest the two-faced who pretend liberality but are practiced bigots in their own mean little spheres. I didn’t tell my daughter whom to marry, but I’d have broken her back if she had had big eyes for a bigot. As I see it, man is a product of his conditioning, and the social forces which mold his morality and conduct—including racial prejudice—are influenced more by material things like food and economic necessities than by the fear and awe and bigotry generated by the high priests of commercialized superstition. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m for decency—period. I’m for anything and everything that bodes love and consideration for my fellow man. But when lip service to some mysterious deity permits bestiality on Wednesday and absolution on Sunday—cash me out.
  • Playboy:But aren’t such spiritual hypocrites in a minority? Aren’t most Americans fairly consistent in their conduct within the precepts of religious doctrine?
  • Sinatra:I’ve got no quarrel with men of decency at any level. But I can’t believe that decency stems only from religion. And I can’t help wondering how many public figures make avowals of religious faith to maintain an aura of respectability. Our civilization, such as it is, was shaped by religion, and the men who aspire to public office anyplace in the free world must make obeisance to God or risk immediate opprobrium. Our press accurately reflects the religious nature of our society, but you’ll notice that it also carries the articles and advertisements of astrology and hokey Elmer Gantry revivalists. We in America pride ourselves on freedom of the press, but every day I see, and so do you, this kind of dishonesty and distortion not only in this area but in reporting—about guys like me, for instance, which is of minor importance except to me; but also in reporting world news. How can a free people make decisions without facts? If the press reports world news as they report about me, we’re in trouble.
  • Playboy:Are you saying that…
  • Sinatra:No, wait, let me finish. Have you thought of the chance I’m taking by speaking out this way? Can you imagine the deluge of crank letters, curses, threats and obscenities I’ll receive after these remarks gain general circulation? Worse, the boycott of my records, my films, maybe a picket line at my opening at the Sands. Why? Because I’ve dared to say that love and decency are not necessarily concomitants of religious fervor.
  • Playboy:If you think you’re stepping over the line, offending your public or perhaps risking economic suicide, shall we cut this off now, erase the tape and start over along more antiseptic lines?
  • Sinatra:No, let’s let it run. I’ve thought this way for years, ached to say these things. Whom have I harmed by what I’ve said? What moral defection have I suggested? No, I don’t want to chicken out now. Come on, pal, the clock’s running.
Łagodnie, po cichutku Cię opuszczam
Bo moje serce by pękło
Gdybyś zbudziła się i zobaczyła jak odchodzę
Więc łagodnie, opuszczam Cię, na długo nim za mną zatęsknisz
Na długo, nim Twe ramiona będą błagać, bym został
—  Frank Sinatra “Softly, As I Leave You”