In Praise Of Sinatra Style
What is this thing called "The Sinatra Style"?

First, there is something that we need to understand: Sinatra Style did not leave us in May 1998. Sinatra Style is present tense. It is alive. It is available. It might not be easy to pull off, but it's there for the taking if you've got the guts for it. Face it: It's still Frank's world, and we're still just living in it. But to live in it the way Sinatra lived in it - well, that takes some work. "Arguably, no man ever lived life more broadly or confidently or stylishly than Frank Sinatra," wrote Bill Zehme in The Way You Wear Your Hat, the mother lode when it comes to defining Sinatra Style. To do it like Sinatra did it, to even to give it a shot, you need to understand what Sinatra Style is, and what it is not. Here's the bottom line, Jack: Not every singer in a classy suit is Frank Sinatra, and not every entourage is the Rat Pack.


- Sinatra Style has sharp edges, attitude. It swings easily, but there's a bite there. It seems casual and effortless, but it's commanding. In Sinatra Style, ease and authority go hand-in-hand.

- Sinatra Style is the swagger. But swagger is not flash. Swagger is not ostentatious or showy. Swagger knows it's damn good, and it knows you know it. Swagger is confidence, even cockiness, but it doesn't need to show off.

- Sinatra Style is generous. It takes care of the little guy. It refuses to worry about money. Sure, you say, a guy can afford not to worry about money after he sells tens of millions of records. But Sinatra had style even in his down days.

- Sinatra Style is loyal. It likes to be around people.. But Sinatra Style knows about being lost and lonely. Hell, nobody is better at expressing that feeling that comes when you're alone at the end of the bar at closing time in the wee small hours, and you know she's not coming back. It carries that feeling deep inside, always. Maybe that's why it'd rather be at a table of friends in that same bar, ordering up another round and holding off the night until dawn.

- Sinatra Style tips big. Real big. But it does so quietly. If the valet walks away with a C-note, that's between you and the valet.

- Sinatra Style helps those who need help. But it never puts out a press release afterwards.

- Sinatra Style is scrappy and combative in an immaculately tailored suit.

- Sinatra Style is passionate. Maybe too passionate sometimes. Sinatra Style can be angry. It doesn't back down from a fight. Maybe once in a while it should, but that's not the way it works. No need to apologize. Leave it, and move on.

- Sinatra Style lives by a code - its own code, not anybody else's code.

- Sinatra Style is clean and sharp.

- Sinatra Style likes its booze, but it is never a sloppy drunk.

- Sinatra Style wears its scars proudly.

- Sinatra Style likes to hang out in joints that boast a bartender who's good at his job, a piano player who knows his way around the Great American Songbook, and a loose interpretation of closing time. A good Chinese cook helps, too.

Here are some of the things that Sinatra Style believes:

- Loosen up. Swing, man.

- Keep moving. Do it, do it right, and move on.

- Don't despair. Just because you've been up and down in life more than a roller coaster on the Fourth of July doesn't mean that you won't get another shot at your dreams.

- Sleep is overrated. Warren Zevon wasn't a Sinatra guy, exactly, but that line of his, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," does have a ring to it.

- Timing is essential when you're singing a song. But in real life there are times you just have to get there when you get there.

- Smoking is stupid. Sometimes you do it anyway.

- If it's worth saying, Cole Porter probably said it in a song. Or Rodgers and Hart. Or Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen.

- Roll with the punches. Wear a clown face if the situation calls for it. Defy the system. You'll scare the uptight, locked-in people, but so what?

- If you have talent, you must embrace it, nurture it, and share it, or it'll be taken away as fast as it was loaned to you.

- Don't stress. The overly concerned and sincere drive themselves crazy.

- On the other hand, it's okay to be a little crazy. In fact, it's essential.

The list could go on and on, and it wouldn't get easier to comprehend. Hell, it might well get harder. Contradictions lurk within. As Walt Whitman might have said, Sinatra Style is large. It contains multitudes. In the end, this is not a list of rules for living. This is the way in which one man lived. It is present tense. It is alive. It is available. It is Sinatra Style.


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