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Music

The classic song Frank Sinatra despised and called “a piece of sh*t”

Ol’ Blue Eyes, eh? I suppose slight gripes with classic songs can come with the territory when you’ve ascended the world of entertainment, solidified a presence as the world’s best-selling music artist and changed the course of popular culture as we know it today. Frank Sinatra, it goes without saying, earned the capacity to criticise any song he damn pleased.

Born to Italian immigrants in Hoboken, New Jersey, Sinatra would live a colourful life filled with glitz, glamour, and a touch of the blue, in relationships and friendships that would later be investigated by the FBI amid links to the mafia.

Although he never sat down to learn music in the traditional sense, Sinatra had a natural ability and charm to push his singing talent into realms of popularity that America had never seen before. Starting off in the swing era, moving from smokey New York clubs to the bright lights of Las Vegas, Sinatra became the ultimate showman from the stage to the big screen, an entertainer born to entertain.

“Throughout my career, if I have done anything, I have paid attention to every note and every word I sing – if I respect the song. If I cannot project this to a listener, I fail,” he once said. “Take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again,” he added. It is in that sentiment we find the catalyst of Sinatra’s success, a man who suffered numerous ups and downs but always had the willingness and desire to get back up off the canvas and go again.

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The truth is, you don’t write and release 59 studio albums without accepting that things will likely fail from time to time. A singing career spanning 54 years and totalling an astonishing 297 singles is the reason why Sinatra is – and always will be – etched in the annals of history. Take, for a moment, to consider hits such as ‘New York, New York’, ‘That’s Life’, ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, ‘I’ve Got the World on a String’ and countless other, all of which changed the course of culture. However, the keen Sinatra fans among us will notice a glaring omission from that aforementioned list of songs.

‘Strangers in the Night’, the hit song composed by Bert Kaempfert, was made famous beyond belief when Sinatra recorded and released his version in 1966. Originally written by Ivo Robic for a music festival in Croatia, the song traversed a number of different artists before finally finding a home with Sinatra and his album of the same name, a project for which he would earn commercial and critical acclaim. It marked his comeback, securing his first number one for 11 years and, more importantly, proving Sinatra’s resilience and ability to bounce back from adversity.

However, despite the crucially important role ‘Strangers in the Night’ now plays in the greater appreciation of his career, Sinatra detested the song, going as far to label it “a piece of shit”.

Taking his declaration even further, the singer was quoted by Jean-Pierre Hombach, who was writing the biography, Frank Sinatra, as damningly stating that ‘Strangers in the Night’ was the “worst fucking song that I have ever heard”.

Later, discussing the song on reflection, Charles Pignone, Senior Vice President of Frank Sinatra Enterprises, confirmed his stance on the track, telling Songfacts: “Yes, he said it many times, he was not a fan of the song, but this is that innate ability of Frank of knowing what the audience wanted. He would do that again in concert, it would come in and out of his repertoire and a lot of times he would joke with the lyrics. He would say, ‘I hate this song, I detest this song,’ but he would do it because the people wanted to hear it.”

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