15
Sep 05

FRANK SINATRA – “Strangers In The Night”

Popular • 2,686 views

#216, 4th June 1966

“Strangers in the Night” has a theme – the chance wonder of meeting the right person – that I usually rather like. And you can see the outlines of a sweet song in Sinatra’s statesmanlike, somewhat bombastic reading. His control and pacing are intact but he seems unwilling to give the song much nuance or life, and the overfull arrangement never requires him to. There’s something of the leatherbound, the definitive about this performance: Sinatra is laying down a recording that can be used at a diamond anniversary as easily as a wedding. But ‘people fall in love’ is no insight; “I fell in love” might be. And in the closing seconds, a glimpse of that, Sinatra drifting off into “doo-be-doo-be-doos”. He might just be marking time, but it’s like granite smiling.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Alan Connor on 15 Sep 2005 #

    “Paint It Black” might be set in the wake of a funeral, and “Strangers In The Night” might be about a one-night stand, but it’s the latter that keeps popping up in those Co-Op surveys of most frequently-used funeral songs (which I’ve twittered on about here).

    Bert Kaempfert co-wrote it: did he have a prior version? Frankie would seem to 0wnzor it now. Funny, also, to have two acts following each other who I think of as having among the scariest Organisations protecting them.

    “Strangers” also features, in instrumental form, jostling for space in The Big Chill, and with a different orchestra, in Eyes Wide Shut, and again in Sixteen Candles. Wayne Newton’s version is in Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, and then there’s The Color Of Money, Scarface, A Guy Thing and Prizzi’s Honor. A nice little earner for Bertie Boy. A tape of “Strangers In The Night” also appears at the beginning of The Omega Man, though the music we hear is “A Summer Place” — clearance beefs?

    Coverers include, unastonishingly, Mel Torme, Petula Clark, Des O’Connor, Shirley Bassey and of course, Klaus Wanderlich — among about a bazillion others.

  2. 2
    Frank Kogan on 15 Sep 2005 #

    Rape, murder!
    It?s just a glance away
    It?s just a glance away

  3. 3
    Frank Kogan on 15 Sep 2005 #

    Er, sorry, keep getting confused as to which performer I’m writing about.

  4. 4
    Frank Kogan on 15 Sep 2005 #

    “Strangers, in the Night” (comma added to title)

  5. 5
    Anonymous on 16 Sep 2005 #

    My memories of the song, back in 1966 (yesterday, when I was young), fall under the category of there being no fool like an old fool. I couldn’t comprehend (either then or now) why the rock music stations in Los Angeles were playing this dreary song sung by that absurd and creepy old man. (I was already aware of his scary security force–the same one that employs the fathers of a number of my students.) “Doobie-doobie-doo”? Old men shouldn’t be singing lines like that–especially one as self-serious as Sinatra. (This is the same old man who, two decades on, threatened to thrash Sinead O’Connor–can’t remember which of her “outrageous” acts brought on the threat, insulting the pope, the American flag, or something like that. If that match had taken place, my money would have been on Sinead.)

    Strange how my perceptions in this regard have changed so little over time.

    My only wish for this one is that some punk band would do a cover version (a la Sid Vicious’s “My Way”). Now THAT would be interesting.

  6. 6
    Anonymous on 16 Sep 2005 #

    The above comments are mine. Sorry I didn’t sign it.

    Doctor Mod

  7. 7
    Marcello on 19 Sep 2005 #

    And yet, we have to ask ourselves, as we do whenever we consider the case of James Last; when all illusions are shredded, when all disguises abandoned, will “Strangers In The Night,” along with “Tears” and “Release Me,” stand as the accurate picture of what most people (non-London/NY/LA, non-scene, slightly getting on and missing the boat, liked Elvis but all these new groups are scruffy and shout) were actually listening to in the sixties, on their deep Bush radiograms? A simulacrum of “popular music”? A concept of sophistication whose cavernous echoes resonate more of the sepulchre than the international airport?

    Sinatra hadn’t quite lost it by 1966 – indeed, a quite spellbinding series of albums, including Sinatra and Jobim and Watertown, was to follow – but listen to this song’s titular parent album and grieve at how a song so simple yet grave as Johnny Mercer’s “The Summer Wind” can be sung so bereft of any feeling of bereavement (and this after “Paint It, Black,”; this from the man who in 1959 recorded perhaps the most bereaved long-playing record ever – No One Cares) and, moreover, as most of the songs on the album, ruined by a beyond-cheesy Bontempi organ (much more Reg Dixon than Jimmy Smith) which drag Sinatra down from Valhalla and dump him back on the deck of the Central Pier in Blackpool.

  8. 8
    rjm on 21 Sep 2005 #

    I always thought those Doobie Doobie Doos were a kind of self-parody, as if Frank were saying, “Here, you bastards, is this what you want? I can do this sort of thing in my sleep,” and then laughing it off. And really, as bland as this performance is, has anyone ever done a better version of this song? He made the definitive version without even trying.

    Oddly enough, this was the start of one of Frank’s biggest years, his first number one in the US since 1955, and the first of three top five singles (and one top 30) over the next nine months. As for why it suddenly happened, consider that the age of most of his original fans then was about the same as most baby boomers now (a little younger, actually). And then explain to me how the new Stones album could debut in the top five. Geezers with money. In pop, they can still make things happen.

  9. 9
    crag on 14 Apr 2011 #

    DESERT ISLAND DISCS WATCH:

    Barry Briggs, speedway rider(1967)

    Ann Mallalieu, First lady President of the Cambridge Union(1968)

    Mary Peters, athlete(1973)

    Eileen Fowler, Physical excersize instructor(1974)

    George Foreman, boxer(2003)

    Sir Gulam Noon, businessman(2004).

  10. 10
    enitharmon on 14 Apr 2011 #

    It says something about changes in popular culture over the last forty years or so that a speedway rider. Barry Briggs (and also Ivan Mauger a few entries later) could be a guest on Desert Island Discs (surely the most ingenious chat show format ever devised, which of us has not after all ever drawn up our list for when we get invited).

    I used to like going to watch the Reading Racers when I lived there a few years ago. By then though it felt like a living fossil of a sport that belonged in the 1950s. I gather that, like all good well-established things these days including Reading FC’s old Elm Park ground, the old stadium has been sold for ‘development’ (speculative housing) and the speedway team has folded. Another casualty of Big Business Football I suppose.

  11. 11
    Erithian on 14 Apr 2011 #

    Rosie, I used to be a regular at Belle Vue Aces in the mid-70s, the Peter Collins era. Here’s another similar story of stadium development, except it has a happier ending, at least for now:
    http://bellevueaces.co/history_hyderd.aspx

    This was also the stadium where I watched the Radio 1 DJs XI when I was a kid – Stewpot, Tony Blackburn and all. Noel Edmonds was the most popular among the girls in the crowd.

  12. 12
    Cumbrian on 14 Apr 2011 #

    Speedway is still ploughing on back home in Cumbria. Workington Comets still draw a crowd (and is in the Premier League along with such luminaries as the Berwick Bandits and the Scunthorpe Scorpions), at least they did the last time I went along (admittedly quite a while ago – I think Carl Stonehewer was still riding). I actually quite enjoyed it to be honest – though I have no real desire to watch it on Sky Sports 8 or whatever they have it on nowadays.

    Good for Workington Town to get some cash in for the usage of Derwent Park too.

  13. 13
    lonepilgrim on 22 Aug 2012 #

    meanwhile at the top of the US charts there was

    none more black.

  14. 14
    michael raffin on 31 Aug 2012 #

    Avo Uvezian wrote the original composition. Avo, now known for the Avo cigar line, will be performing at the jenuwine cigar lounge in Sterling heights, mi October 18th, 2012.

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