10/20/11 - loneliness and dawn

In today's encore excerpt - throughout his life Frank Sinatra dreaded being alone and so spent most nights surrounded by friends, insisting that they stay and often greeting the dawn with them:

"Frank Sinatra did not like to be alone. Alone, he was anxious, even a little fearful. ... And so, for only the lonely, he sang the rhetorical question: 'When you're alone, who cares for starlit skies?' Not him, that's who. When he was alone, night was a bitch, a black hole, a bitter void. Night required company, required fortification and reinforcements. Since the forties he would not take on the night, any night, single-handedly. So he marshaled troops to sit with him, to drink and to smoke and to laugh with him. 'The thing Frankie doesn't seem to understand is that the body's got to get some sleep,' a bedraggled friend complained four decades ago. At that moment, the New York Times declared: 'He fights a relentless battle against sleeping before sun-up.' Even in the sixties, messing around on his cockamamie two-way radio, he gave himself the handle 'Night Fighter.' ...

"He would break more dawns than most mortals. Each one was his triumph, the death of each night. He had survived yet another one. 'He feels reborn in the morning light,' his daughter Tina once attested. When horizons brightened, he exulted over the spoils of war. 'Look at the colors!' he would say, pointing bleary comrades toward thousands of sunrises. 'What kind of blue would you call that?' He called the tint of sky that offered him the most peace Five O'Clock Vegas Blue. ...

"Woe to those missing. More woe to those who greeted dawns by his side. It is there that scores of [his companions] slumped, trapped, for he insisted nobody leave. ... Begin to nod off, he would say 'Hey! What are you doing? Wake up!' Rise from the table he would say, 'Where the hell are you going?' Best excuse: 'To the bathroom.' 'Well that's all right then' Frank would allow, if suspiciously. ... But many who crept away were summoned back. 'God help you if he knew what room you were in' says [Hank] Cattaneo. 'Frank himself would light firecrackers under your door.'

" 'Frank is the only person I know who invites you to a black-tie party and, as he is hanging up the telephone, says 'Be sure to bring your sunglasses.' "



Bill Zehme


The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin'


Harper Collins


Copyright 1997 by Bill Zehme


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