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Sinatra. The name? What does it that word, the name invoke? Well for me and millions of Italian-Americans over the years, the name Sinatra conjures mostly love, Happiness, good-times, wonderful memories, and “Pride.” These emotions that are all one really need to be happy and content. That’s what is important. Along with good health and family togetherness. And, by the way, you don’t have to be Italian-American to love Sinatra, most everyone does.
My love of Frank Sinatra, the man and his music began when I was a young boy growing up in East Rutherford, New Jersey, always in sight of the wondrous skyline of my beloved New York City. As far back as I can remember, my mother used to play all her fine records on her RCA Victor Record Player. Songs like Strangers in The Night, The Summer Wind, The Lady is a Tramp, Fly Me to the Moon, Come Fly with Me, and so many more. She played Sinatra all the time, along with Sammy, Dino, Elvis, Al Martino, Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole. Those were her favorites and Frank Sinatra was always number one for the entire Bellino Family, especially for Me, my Mother, Sister Barbara, and Uncle Frank.
Whether listening to a record or seeing the man live, this man sang with so much emotion that you could actually feel it within yourself, the feelings and
emotions he was trying to convey. He tried and he always succeeded, whether he was singing a fun happy song like “Luck Be a Lady,” “I’ve Got the World on a String”, or the incredible way he sang a torch song, and sang these songs in a way no other could. Songs of lost love and Bittersweet Romances like “You and Me,” The World We Knew, The Second Time Around, and “If I Had You,” many others of course. You could feel the pain of hurt and lost love. They say the reason he had this very special touch with torch songs was because he was thinking of, and singing about the Greatest Love of his life, Ava Gardner, Frank’s proverbial Girl That Got Away.
The man had such a way with lyrics and music, he’d take those songs and make them his own.
These songs were, still, are, and always will be wonderful gifts to his hundreds of millions of fans, to The World, to the history of mankind, to the Millions Who Loved and adored him, Frank Sinatra.
We Italian-Americans are deeply proud that he
was one of our own. He was an Icon, The Twentieth Century’s greatest entertainer, a National Treasure and source of pride, whom Italians looked-up-to and could brag about, he was of Italian blood, same as us. That our roots were from the same place (my family in particular the Bellino family came from the same town as Sinatra Family in Sicily, Lercara Friddi) as well as so many of our forbearers of Italy to precede us, people like Leonardo Da Vinci, Brunelleschi, Giotto, Verrazano, Columbus, Marconi, and Michael Angelo. In America we had Italian Americans like; Joe Di Maggio, Dean Martin (Dino Crochetti), Tony Bennett (Anthony Benedtto), Al Pacino, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Mondavi, Jake La Motta, Rocky Marciano, and so many more, and of all those incredible people, Sinatra was tops. He still is.
There are have been all kinds of great singers in this World, people like Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Dean Martin, Al Green, Pavarotti, and on-and-on, but never a performer quite like Sinatra. His singing, the way he handled a song, was beyond compare. Frank sang with incredible feelings and emotions.
If you were fortunate to ever see Sinatra perform live, it was an experience like no other. You know how he makes you feel so good when you listen to one of his many great recordings? Well multiply that by 100 and you just start to understand. The emotions one felt at a Sinatra Concert. Emotions quite similar to the magical euphoric feelings you’d get as a child running down to the Christmas Tree, opening your presents on Christmas Day. You’d get that special toy you’d been dreaming of, and. You are in Seventh Heaven. Euphoria! Do you remember?
For any great Sinatra fan, seeing the man perform live, being at a Sinatra Concert, it’s akin to being a child again, under that Christmas Tree, to open that special present, that’s a Sinatra Concert. Better!
When you went to a Sinatra Concert there would
be so much love, joy, happiness, and adulation for
the man that you could literally feel it in the air. It made you shiver and sent chills up and down your spine, “Literally.” People would be screaming out, “We love you Frank”, both men and women, and he’d reply back, “I love you too”, in a way, only
Frank could do. He truly did Love and appreciate
his fans and had such a fantastic rapport with his audience.
Frank had great conversations with his audience. Guys felt as his pal, and women his lover, these are messages he conveyed, and his fans adored him for it.
There have been so many great performers over the years, but there never was, there is not now, and there will never ever be another quite like that man, Francis Albert Sinatra. Never.
I’ve been a tremendous fan of his since early childhood. I grew up listening to the Beatles, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, all the great Motown and Philadelphia Sound artists, as well as many other Rock and Pop Stars.
Along with the Pop, R&B, and Rock music that most kids of my age would listen to at the time, I added artists of my parent’s generation as well, artist like; like Sinatra, the rest of the Rat Pack, Louis Armstrong, Bobby Darin, and others. These artists that most children and young adults didn’t listen to unless they were the chosen few who had the good taste and capacity to appreciate at tender young ages, musicians like; Armstrong, Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and others. No matter that these older artists were of their generation or not, their music was great, and even at such a young age, I could love and appreciate. Sammy, Sinatra, Dean and others were great performers who made great music, and that all there was to it.
When I was in high school, I had a few friends who were heavily into Sinatra as well. Most kids thought he was “boring” and old-fashioned. We knew better! We were all of Italian ancestry and we were proud of him and of ourselves that although we were from another era, we were sophisticated enough, at such young ages to appreciate great performers of our parents and grandparents generation, we were Cool and we knew it! Hey, Facts-Are-Facts, and that was a fact, “We Were Cool.” We looked at ourselves as The Jr. Rat Pack, Cool, Sophisticated, and Confident!!! Frank gave us that confidence and
The sad day in which Frank Sinatra passed away,
I received four messages of condolence, one from my sister Barbara, one from my brother-in-law Noel, one from my friend Selena, and one from my good buddy Jimmy Starace. That’s how much I loved the man, what a big fan I was, and all my friends and family knew it, thus the messages of condolence. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened to a couple Million other Sinatra fans as well.
We were blessed with his presence for a long time. We still are, through all his fabulous recordings (12 Hundred Songs ) and the memories, they evoke
feel ings of girlfriends, Love, our mothers, fathers, and of Frank.
I made sure that I went to see the man perform
live on seven extraordinary occasions. These concerts hold many wonderful memories that I will have for the rest of my life, along with the numerous dinners with friends and family spent listening to his incomparable recordings and having Sinatra Parties on Saturday nights when WNEW AM in New York used to have a show every Saturday night for years called “Saturday with Sinatra”, well, as only New Yorkers could do.
New Yorkers being Franks most loyal fans. This
is where he got his start. The show was hosted by
Sid Marx’s. Sid and some of his special guests would tell all sorts of wonderful stories about Frank. There would be guests who knew Frank personally, as well as listeners who would call in and tell stories of how they “Fell in Love” listening to Sinatra or how they met him one time, or of performances that they went to. The show was three hours of listening to Sinatra’s unrivaled music and of stories and antidotes of “The Man.” For Sinatara Fans, this weekly Saturday Night Show was pure bliss.
Sinatra was loved all over the World, and people could tell you all sorts of interesting antidotes pertaining to all parts of the globe. I have a particular interesting memory of him combined with a great food and wine trip in Italy. I was in the small wine town of Greve in Chianti Classico, Italy having a nice little dinner with a friend. We were in this
great little Enoteca eating the famed local Salumi
and Paparadelle with Wild Boar Ragu. We were a
bit surprised (I don’t know why) to hear both Sinatra and Billy Holiday recordings playing at this little place. The owner walked by to see how we were doing. I gave him a thumbs-up and told him, “Great music”.
“You like Billy Holiday?” he inquired. We had a nice little conversation with him about Billy, Sinatra, and wine.
He told us that he had lived and worked for a few years in New York. This guy was a big fan of Frank,
Billy Holliday, and New York City. So, that’s Sinatra, loved the World over, even in little towns like Greve in Chianti.
LA TAVOLA by Daniel Bellino Zwicke, available August 2011 on AMAZON.com
Ever wonder what it would be like to have a book that could be described as A Year in Provence meets New York Italian America? Well that sort of explains La Tavola. A book about Italian-American Friends and Family in New York and the metropolitan area surrounding it. Where tables are filled with
Chianti, Antipasto, Pasta, Sausage, and Meatballs instead of Coq au Vin and Bouf Bourguignon, and the lush rural Sun-Soaked landscape of Provence in The South of France is replaced with Italian-American New Yorker’s in Brooklyn, Jersey, Manhattan, and Da Bronx, home to Dion and The Belmonts, Al Pacino, and Jake LaMotta.
The characters in La Tavola replace the French of A Year in Provence with Italian-Americans, Italian and Italian-American Food replace the French and French Food while Trattoria and Pork Stores are in place of the French by Butcher and Bistros. La Tavola is filled with many wonderful stories of life among the Italians of New York, with many antidotes and info on; who has the Best Sausages or Cannoli, which are the best Italian Restaurants, Caffes, and Italian Pastires. Including 30 Wonderful Recipes from Daniel and his Family. Enjoy!