Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #20 – Frank Sinatra: “Summer Wind” b/w “Strangers In The Night” – Reprise “Back-To-Back Hits” 45 RPM Single GRE-0710 (S2/T2)
“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.
There was something magical about easy listening music from the early and mid-1960s. It was a strange confluence of male vocalists, some more talented than others, like Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence, Johnny Mathis, John Davidson, John Gary, Tony Bennett and of course, the Chairman Of The Board, Frank Sinatra. They were smooth singers with worldly good looks. The ladies were just as compelling, from the likes of Eydie Gorme, Vikki Carr, Julie London, Shirley Bassey and “Babs” Barbra Streisand. There was a sophistication level in their craft that hasn’t been matched since that particular era.
1966 was a very good year for pop vocal music in general, and especially for Frank Sinatra. He broke through again on the pop charts with a number one album called Strangers In The Night and the number one single of the same name that appealed to both young and old alike. The album would go on to win Album of The Year at the 1967 Grammy Awards and Record Of The Year for the title track.
The album was Sinatra’s last one with Nelson Riddle providing arrangements, and Riddle went out with a bang on the swinging “All Or Nothing At All” featuring an arrangement not unlike the one he did for “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” On top of that, there are masterful Sinatra versions of sixties easy listening staples like “Call Me,” “On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)” and “Downtown.”
“Doobey Doobey Doo.”
For a while back in the late ‘60s, that’s all that could be heard pouring out of the mono AM radio speakers in the car my dad drove. At the time, that music was much better than rest of his automotive musical fodder which consisted of the kind of instrumental music that the “Beautiful Music” stations would broadcast.
“Strangers” evocative melody was written by Bert Kaempfert (who was famous for writing such easy listening fare as Wayne Newton’s “Donke Schoen,” Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” and “A Swingin’ Safari,” which was also known as “The Theme from The Match Game” game show. ) The melody was originally titled “Beddie Bye” and it was written for the film A Man Could Get Killed. The lyrics were written by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder (who both also wrote the lyrics to Al Martino’s immortal “Spanish Eyes”).
Jack Jones actually recorded the song before Sinatra got around to it, and Sinatra was said to hate the song calling it “a piece of shit” and “the worst fucking song that I have ever heard.” (Sinatra: The Life) However, he managed to warm up to its powers as it rose to the top of the charts, and it became a staple of his performances for the rest of his life.
On the flip of this double A-sided single is “Summer Wind,” which really is the essence of the classic summer single…light, warm and breezy, with a hint of the kind of ennui you can only feel as the summer comes to a close thrown in for good measure. The song’s intro sets the perfect mood with its mélange of Wurlitzer styled organ and sexy Nelson Riddle horn arrangements. “Summer Wind” sported lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Heinz Meier, and Wayne Newton had a #78 chart his with the song in 1965 before Sinatra got around to recording it also for the Strangers In The Night album.
The song has been used numerous times in advertisements, movies and in TV shows. One of the song’s greatest TV uses was in the summer-themed episode of The Simpsons called Bart Of Darkness which is based on the Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window. In the episode the family gets a pool and the Simpson’s back yard attracts all of the neighborhood kids. Bart breaks his leg and spends his summer at his bedroom window looking at the festivities below until he thinks he’s witnessed a murder at the Flanders’ house.