I did a search for this first just in case it was already posted and didnít find it. Sorry about the length, but I thought it would be best to post the interview in its entirety here and so I broke it down into 3 parts.
I saw this for the first time a few months ago, thought it was a fascinating read and wanted to share it with all of you who may have never seen it.
It being a Playboy interview, the topics covered tended naturally to be edgier hot-button issues than most and Frank met the challenge head on. I donít post this in order to encourage a heated discussion about those hot-button issues, but to share with all of you another side of this complex artist.
And what a side it is! Despite Frankís modest disclaimers about not being an ďexpertĒ on this complicated issue or that, to my way of thinking he demonstrates an incredibly well informed understanding of them and articulates a humanistic analysis that would fit right in with any expertís conclusions.
Happy New Year to all you nice SFF people! Oh, and all you cranky ones too, if there are anyÖ
Frank Sinatraís February 1963 Playboy Magazine Interview, Part 1 of 3
By: Joe Hyams
Playboy: Frank, in the 20 years since you left the Tommy Dorsey band to make your name as a solo singer, you've deepened and diversified your talents with a variety of concurrent careers in related fields. But so far none of these aptitudes and activities has succeeded in eclipsing your gifts as a popular vocalist. So why don't we begin by examining Sinatra, the singer?
Sinatra: OK, deal.
Playboy:Many explanations have been offered for your unique ability--apart from the subtleties of style and vocal equipment--to communicate the mood of a song to an audience. How would you define it?
Sinatra: I think it's because I get an audience involved, personally involved in a song--because I'm involved myself. It's not something I do deliberately; I can't help myself. If the song is a lament at the loss of love, I get an ache in my gut, I feel the loss myself and I cry out the loneliness, the hurt and the pain that I feel.
Playboy: Doesn't any good vocalist "feel" a song? Is there such a difference...
Sinatra: I don't't know what other singers feel when they articulate lyrics, but being an 18-karat manic-depressive and having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions, I have an overacute capacity for sadness as well as elation. I know what the cat who wrote the song is trying to say. I've been there--and back. I guess the audience feels it along with me. They can't help it. Sentimentality, after all, is an emotion common to all humanity.
Playboy: Of the thousands of words which have been written about you on this subject, do you recall any which have accurately described this ability?
Sinatra: Most of what has been written about me is one big blur, but I do remember being described in one simple word that I agree with. It was in a piece that tore me apart for my personal behavior, but the writer said that when the music began and I started to sing, I was "honest." That says it as I feel it. Whatever else has been said about me personally is unimportant. When I sing, I believe. I'm honest. If you want to get an audience with you, there's only one way. You have to reach out to them with total honesty and humility. This isn't a grandstand play on my part; I've discovered -- and you can see it in other entertainers -- when they don't reach out to the audience, nothing happens. You can be the most artistically perfect performer in the world, but an audience is like a broad -- if you're indifferent, endsville. That goes for any kind of human contact: a politician on television, an actor in the movies, or a guy and a gal. That's as true in life as it is in art.
Playboy: From what you've said, it seems that we'll have to learn something of what makes you tick as a man in order to understand what motivates you as an entertainer. Would it be all right with you if we attempt to do just that -- by exploring a few of the fundamental beliefs which move and shape your life?
Sinatra: Look, pal, is this going to be an ocean cruise or a quick sail around the harbor? Like you, I think, I feel, I wonder. I know some things, I believe in a thousand things, and I'm curious about a million more. Be more specific.
Playboy: All right, let's start with the most basic question there is: Are you a religious man? Do you believe in God?
Sinatra: Well, that'll do for openers. I think I can sum up my religious feelings in a couple of paragraphs. First: I believe in you and me. I'm like Albert Schweitzer and Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein in that I have a respect for life -- in any form. I believe in nature, in the birds, the sea, the sky, in everything I can see or that there is real evidence for. If these things are what you mean by God, then I believe in God. But I don't believe in a personal God to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice. I'm not unmindful of man's seeming need for faith; I'm for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniel's. But to me religion is a deeply personal thing in which man and God go it alone together, without the witch doctor in the middle. The witch doctor tries to convince us that we have to ask God for help, to spell out to him what we need, even to bribe him with prayer or cash on the line. Well, I believe that God knows what each of us wants and needs. It's not necessary for us to make it to church on Sunday to reach Him. You can find Him anyplace. And if that sounds heretical, my source is pretty good: Matthew, Five to Seven, The Sermon on the Mount.
Playboy: You haven't found any answers for yourself in organized religion?
Sinatra: There are things about organized religion which I resent. Christ is revered as the Prince of Peace, but more blood has been shed in His name than any other figure in history. You show me one step forward in the name of religion and I'll show you a hundred retrogressions. Remember, they were men of God who destroyed the educational treasures at Alexandria, who perpetrated the Inquisition in Spain, who burned the witches at Salem. Over 25,000 organized religions flourish on this planet, but the followers of each think all the others are miserably misguided and probably evil as well. In India they worship white cows, monkeys and a dip in the Ganges. The Moslems accept slavery and prepare for Allah, who promises wine and revirginated women. And witch doctors aren't just in Africa. If you look in the L.A. papers of a Sunday morning, you'll see the local variety advertising their wares like suits with two pairs of pants.
END of Part 1 of 3