Sinatra, the Would-Be Romance Writer

33e598bf-0a25-4503-8f8d-fef093e5b5d5Thousands of books and articles have been written about Frank Sinatra. In all of those works, however, no one has suggested that – had he been an author – Sinatra would have written romance novels, chick-lit, and woman’s fiction. Until now.

Sinatra was an incurable romantic. The list of Hollywood stars he wed or bedded can go head-to-head with the conquests of Clooney or DiCaprio. But those short-lived relationships were never about accumulating bedpost notches. Instead, Sinatra used physical closeness to compensate for his lifelong failure to find true love. He believed in – and sought after – a fairy-tale love affair that would never end.

But that’s not the sole reason I believe Ol’ Blues Eyes would have authored chick-lit novels had he pursued a writing career. Rather than stating it myself, I’ll quote from Pete Hamill’s Why Sinatra Matters:

“Sinatra finally found a way to allow tenderness into the performance while remaining manly…He perfected the role of the Tender Tough Guy and passed it on to several generations of Americans. Before him, that archetype did not exist in American popular culture…Frank Sinatra created a new model for American masculinity.”

Sinatra grew up in a world where “men were men” and women knew their place. He spent many hours – both in his youth and later years – hanging out with his Rat Pack pals in NYC bars, Havana nightclubs, and Vegas casinos. With his swagger and smirk, he looked every bit the macho player. But everything changed when he sang. That’s why girls swooned over him in the 1940s and why every self-respecting male born before 1970 owns a copy of “In The Wee Small Hours.”

Sinatra was a control freak in the recording studio. He chose his songs with the careful deliberation of a museum curator. He worked closely with the arranger on the pace and mood of the score, and he badgered the studio musicians to deliver exactly what he wanted. There was no settling for Sinatra. He delivered maximum impact from every nuanced lyric he sang. And it is the content of those lyrics that suggest a hugely successful career as a romance novelist. Consider these lines:

You took the part / That once was my heart / So why not / Take all of me

In the wee small hours of the morning / That’s the time you miss her most of all.

I’ll never be the same / There is such an ache in my heart / Never be the same / Since we’re apart

Curmudgeons might argue that Sinatra didn’t write any of those lyrics. Tis true. But what’s equally true is that Sinatra owned those lyrics. He made them his. He filled them with an emotional richness that could transform treacle into soul-deep rapture. The songs Sinatra selected told the story of his life – of love lost, love unrequited, and a future that still held the possibility of true love forever.

Love lost, love unrequited, and the possibility of true love forever are the literary linchpins of women’s fiction and chick-lit novels. Had that been the path Sinatra pursued, he would have been a masterful and bestselling author. You heard it here first.


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