Sep 05

FRANK SINATRA – “Strangers In The Night”

Popular21 comments • 3,812 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.



  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 #


    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:

    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.

  15. 15
    hectorthebat on 26 Apr 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Blender (USA) – Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own (2003)
    RIAA and NEA (USA) – 365 Songs of the Century (2001) 275
    The Recording Academy Grammy Hall of Fame Albums and Songs (USA)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)
    Grammy Awards (USA) – Record of the Year Winner

  16. 16
    lonepilgrim on 5 Sep 2015 #

    there’s very little nuance in the lyrics for this song, apart from the ‘love was just a glance away, a warm embracing dance away’ Frank does his best, confidently extending that first ‘you’ to fix the focus of his feelings but by the end the ‘doo doo doos’ suggest he’s lost interest. The orchestration sounds like a Bond theme at times

  17. 17
    lonepilgrim on 5 Sep 2015 #

    …and in belated response to Marcello @7: Sinatra was definitely the soundtrack to my neighbours’ 60s and 70s. The husband managed a local record shop and we’d hear Frank’s more upbeat songs through the wall when they entertained in the evenings or tunes like SITN during the day when his wife was on her own.

  18. 18
    Paulito on 10 Aug 2017 #

    As he played on this recording during his days as a Wrecking Crew stalwart, this is a (admittedly imperfect) place to belatedly acknowledge the passing of the great Glen Campbell. I had the pleasure and privilege of seeing him play on his farewell tour in 2011. Even though he was already afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease by then (and had bravely announced same), that gorgeous honeyed voice was still intact – as were his astonishing guitar chops. Some people think of him as a country artist, some regard him as MOR, but his best work – and above all, those sublime Jimmy Webb-penned hits – transcend genre and time. Glen may be gone, but the Wichita Lineman will eternally be on the line.

  19. 19

    My sister had a Furby c. 1999 that could sing this :D :D :D

    7 for Ol’ Blue Eyes, 3 for the former, though whoever supplied its voice did do a passable impression of Cilla Black.

  20. 20
    jack burton on 23 May 2021 #

    Sinatra hated this song, he hated the production of it, and he hated Glen Campbell for staring at him so hard during the recording. Glen was just fascinated by Sinatra, and was trying his best to understand the talent the man had. But since my wife and I met as strangers in the night 48 years ago the song has always had a special place in our hearts.

  21. 21
    Gareth Parker on 27 May 2021 #

    Not my sort of thing, but I can appreciate Sinatra’s talent. 6/10.

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