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Rock 'n' Roll Meets Sinatra

Rock 'n' Roll Meets Sinatra

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For a vocalist who once described rock 'n' roll as the "most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear," Frank Sinatra has exerted a profound influence over the movement. The sheer number of singers who have cited him as inspiration is impressive. They include the likes of Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Scott Walker, Morrissey, Marianne Faithfull, Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan, who just released Shadows in the Night, an all-covers tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes. His influence is particularly strong amongst the synth-pop acts and New Romantics popular in the early '80s. Both Japan's David Sylvian and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's Andy McCluskey were pivotal in re-introducing Sinatra-style crooning to modern rock and alternative pop. Then there are the hordes of artists who have covered songs Sinatra made famous: The Beach Boys' "Things We Did Last Summer," Cake's amazing "What's Now Is Now" and Sid Vicious' glorious brutalizing of "My Way" (used masterfully by director Martin Scorsese during the closing credits to Goodfellas). Also worth noting is David Bowie's "Life On Mars?," a self-consciously cheeky rewrite of "My Way."

Sinatra himself, despite his dismissal of rock, did explore the music -- albeit in limited doses. He believed The Beatles' "Something" -- of which he recorded two different but equally excellent renditions -- to be one of the great love ballads. He also tackled Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" and the Elvis hit "Love Me Tender," though neither sets the world on fire, to be perfectly honest. Easily Sinatra's most vital foray into rock 'n' roll isn't a mere cover, but rather an entire concept album. Recorded in the summer of 1969, with producer and arranger Bob Gaudio (who penned many of The Four Seasons' biggest hits) and lyricist Jake Holmes (Led Zeppelin covered his "Dazed and Confused"), Watertown failed commercially at the outset but has since become a cult classic with fans of symphonic/orchestral rock. It truly is a one-of-a-kind experiment that needs to be listened to in its entirety. To fully appreciate rock 'n' roll's intersection with the legendary Frank Sinatra, check out our playlist.

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