Friday, May 14, 2010

Nancy Sinatra

Another young woman whose images loom large in my memories of the sixties is Nancy Sinatra. This is particularly odd, though, because I wasn't really a fan of hers until this past decade. Nonetheless, when I see her publicity pictures, posters, etc, it always takes me back.

I first heard and heard of Nancy when the record, SOMETHING STUPID, was a hit in 1966. A duet with Frank Sinatra---which makes it undoubtedly the first time I ever heard if him, also--this beautifully orchestrated love song sounds odd today due to Nancy's almost monotone recitation of the lyrics and Frank's insistence on attempting to match her when it seems like she should be harmonizing with HIM! Of course, it sounds even odder when one realizes this is a father and a daughter singing it! This was made no less squicky when Frank, Jr took the male lead in one TV version!

It plays up the fact that Nancy wasn't really much of a singer, however, in spite of her genes. At the time, I liked SOME VELVET MORNING, one of several collaborations with producer/singer/songwriter Lee Hazlewood that somehow managed to play on what strengths she did show by having her alternate verses rather than attempt to harmonize on them.

The revelation to me is her 1967 theme to the fifth James Bond film, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. She actually sings, shows some range and does a surprisingly bang-up job with the whole thing! Her greatest hits package, however, is filled with more monotone recitations and collaborations like JACKSON and SUMMER WINE. Oh, and of course, THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING!

The latter song put Nancy on the map and if that was all she was ever remembered for, it would have been enough. Nancy Sinatra in her blonde-white hair and go-go boots has become iconic.

Arguably her career peaked when she co-starred in SPEEDWAY with Elvis Presley but looking back it seems an odd-combination of two iconic performers both of whose careers were being mis-managed horrendously when compared to their enormous potential!

When Nancy appeared in PLAYBOY many years later after plastic surgery and with plenty of flattering soft focus and airbrushing, she reportedly broke the news to Frank only to have him ask how much they were paying her. She told him and he supposedly said, "Uh-uh. This much." and scrawled a number on a piece of paper. Nancy is said to have called Hef and without any hesitation, Frank's number was accepted. It really was, as they used to say, Frank Sinatra's world and the rest of us--Nancy Sinatra included--were just living in it. Now THAT is something stupid!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks. Loved the pictures and commentary.