The second world war from 1939 – 1945 was something of a watershed in American culture. On the one hand, it created a cultural break from the depression era of the 1930s and on the other hand, it opened up a phase of greater contact with Europe. Manufacturing industries boomed, and New Jersey was one of the areas to enjoy better employment prospects and the emergence of a new generation of young people with money to spend and an interest in music. One of the greatest singers that America, and perhaps the world, has ever known is the legendary Frank Sinatra (1915-1998).
He was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, to an Italian American working class family and worked in such varied professions as a riveter, a singing waiter in Englewood Cliffs, and a crooner on local radio while he was still a teenager. He came into contact with big band leader Tommy Dorsey and eventually developed into a solo singer with incredible voice control. His fame increased when he became an actor, and he had several retirements and come-backs well into his later years.
As a performer and musician Sinatra is recognized as exceptional. Critics point to his technical expertise, which is faultless, but also to a certain command of emotional tone, which is the key ingredient to his phenomenal success; “ Where other singers, at best, work with lyrics and melodies, Sinatra deals in mental images and pure feelings that he seems to summon up almost without the intervention of composers, arrangers, and musicians, as vital as their contributions are. ” Historians cite Bing Crosby as one of Sinatra’ s greatest influences, along with the swing bands that were popular when he was a child.
Given the nickname “ Ol’ Blue Eyes” Sinatra produced masterly versions of songs such as “ My Way” and “ New York New York” but made many hits of a more romantic nature such as “ Begin the Beguine” and “ It had to be You. ” Some of his hits like “ I’ ve Got You Under My Skin” and “ One For My Baby” was released again and again over his long career, and as his voice mellowed the songs changed subtly over the decades.
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