There are simply no words to explain how much this album has meant - to me,to audiences, to the whole of popular music. I am a fourteen year old girl and have been listening to,reading about,and watching every available piece of Sinatra material since I was eleven.My dad has finally given up his hope that I'll get tired of Sinatra one day and research someone useful,like George Washington or Britney Spears(just kidding).There is no better example of why Ms.Spears will have to do without an extra devoted follower than "In the Wee Small Hours."Someone said that a person has to be old enough to buy booze to appreciate Sinatra. So I'm an anomaly.The truth is,anyone with any reasonable view of what comprises the essence of quality at least appreciates the artistry on this album. Every breath is perfect, every word elegant in its crystalline diction,every note of every instrument flawlessly placed. Nothing is sentimentalized.Hearing the likes of Steve Lawrence and Jack Jones attempt "I'm a Fool to Want You" is embarrasing, but with Sinatra maudlin, trite, sentimental lyrics become one-act Shakespearean tragedies.I am not exaggerating in any way.I'm not a singer,but as Walter Chronkite said,"People who understand music hear sounds no one else makes when Sinatra sings."The music of Frank Sinatra,obviously, was his autobiography.But more than that, it was a confession made on every aspect of mankind.In his voice are the delicate illusions of F. Scott Fitzgerald,the blaring colors of Hemingway-and the everyman quietly carrying the torch for the gal that got away.The gal,of course, was Ava Gardner,and every word in these songs can be traced to her("Your answer was goodbye,and there was even postage due.I fell in love just once,and then it had to be with you. Everything happens to me").The tributes eloquently laid forth on his death are rather ludicrous,considering that no living performer is even comparable to any aspect of his music,career,or influence, but Harry Connick Jr. had it right when he said,"He was the absolute master of vocal technique."Somebody described Barbra Streisand's emotional shadings as ranging from "loud to louder." In the case of Sinatra they range from eloquence to indescribable brilliance,and,apart from his perfect 1963 "Ol' Man River,"the best example is "What is This Thing Called Love." There are decriptions of this quality far more revealing than mine could ever be,so I'll leave it at one word-"Listen."
In recent years Sinatra has been accidently filed in a banal world of lazy-eyed Dean Martins and boorishly inferior Bobby Darins,catalogued in downright silly ravings about the "Chairman of the Board," molded and stuffed into the "Absolute Truths" of Kitty Kelly,George Jacobs,and "Saturday Night Live." Sinatra told his youngest daughter,"Please don't let me wind up on a coffee mug." Elvis Presley,unfortunately, suffered that fate because there was no substantial way to disprove that Elvis was a tacky teen-idol who sang tacky songs and made tacky movies-you certainly don't hear any proof of artistic importance on his records.But the Kitty Kellys of the world have never been able to demolish Sinatra's...quality,because in their pretty image of Mafia,brawls,and inferiority complexes they continually run into a stumbling block that ain't moving-this.In all its subtlety,in its quietly sad elegance of what happens,"When Your Lover Has Gone," "In the Wee Small Hours" is more riveting and more revealing than any "astounding new revelation" on Sinatra could ever hope to be.Perfection.