Rick's List - Almost-November of My Years Edition
Frank Sinatra's "September of My Years" album, released in 1965, is rife with imagery of colored leaves and early frost and forestalling desolate winter for just a few more glorious months, it's a profound reflection on life well-lived and lessons learned and maybe even a little regret — boasting 13 songs by giants like Van Heusen/Cahn, Arlen/Harburg, Weill/Anderson, and Rodgers/Hammerstein.
All are essential to the overall narrative, and the orchestral arrangements by Gordon Jenkins provide a maple sweetness when Frank nuances his way through "It Was a Very Good Year," "Once Upon a Time," "September Song," "When the Wind Was Green," "It Gets Lonely Early" and on. The collection could theoretically have been sung by any middle-aged man, I suppose, but in reality, it could ONLY have been sung by Sinatra — from the perspective of a dude who's had a really great life palling around with Dino and Sammy and (more-than-palling-around with) Ava and Lauren and Marilyn and Angie and ...
And yet, there is much Everyman wisdom here, as well.
In the album's liner notes, record exec Stan Cornyn wrote beautifully: "(Sinatra) sings with perspective. This vital man, this archetype of the good life, this idolized star ... has lived enough for two lives, and can now sing of September. Of the bruising days. Of the rouged lips and bourbon times. Of chill winds, of forgotten ladies who ride in limousines.
"September can be an attitude or an age or a wistful reality. For (Sinatra), it is a time of love. A time to sing.
"A thousand days hath September."
None of that made much sense to me in my late twenties when I started, each fall, to listen to "September of My Years." All I thought then was that it's a record that SOUNDS like autumn — my favorite season — so it went into rotation each Labor Day. And that was enough.
In the last few years, though, the lyrics to this masterpiece have started to carve fissures into my brain. It occurs to me that Sinatra was 50 when he recorded "September of My Years." Fifty! Man, that seemed primordial at the time. Now? I don't even REMEMBER turning 50.
But I'm clearly NOT Sinatra. That's painfully obvious. And so, here in the almost-November of MY years, are a few songs of mine that Ol' Blue Eyes decided not to include when they selected the material on "September of My Years":
1. "Sammy Davis Loaned Me His Nose-Hair Clippers"
2. "Is That My Face in the Mirror (or Just a Rotting Jack-o'-Lantern)?"
3. "Age Spots a-Multiplyin'"
4. "Where'd I Put That Burial Insurance?"
5. "Camels and Scotch (You Done Me Wrong)"