October 26, 2013

101 Reel-To-Reel Tapes14: Frank Sinatra ~ September of My Years

Frank Sinatra ~ September of My Years

In addition to my vinyl collection I'm selling, I have hundreds of reel-to-reel, pre-recorded tapes I'm selling. This is an entry about one of them that was for sale on eBay (see link below for others). I have the vinyl LP version as well. Interested? Contact me by email, please, not by a comment.

Frank Sinatra ~ September of My Years
reel-to-reel box back
photo by Styrous®


This, to me, is Frank Sinatra's finest album. I have loved his voice since the 40's. I would hear his evocative singing on the radio and dream romantic or heroic dreams (it was the war years, after all). I wasn't very impressed with his work in the 50's but this album reinstalled him in my Pantheon of Vocal Greats. 

It Was a Very Good Year was an astounding Top 40 hit. Astonishing to me because it was deep and pensive; recapping the romantic adventures of a man's lifetime; his aging, reflection, and regret. The thrill of the chase then the realization of loves long lost. There is a wistfulness about it that is sort of on the sad side, still, it is beautiful. 

Along the same line is the song, Once Upon a Time, from the 1962 musical, All American. Originally performed by Ray Bolger and Eileen Herlie, it is a song of love almost won but lost, never to be found again. It is excruciatingly beautiful and one of my very favorite songs. I've included the lyrics below. It was also covered by Robert Goulet, Al Martino, Jim Reeves, Diahann Carroll, Vic Damone, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett and Bobby Darin (oh, even Kevin Spacey had a turn at it when he portrayed Darin in the film Beyond the Sea). It's really interesting to hear how each of them interpreted the song. In addition to links (below) to the Sinatra version of this song and the Bolger/Herlie version, there is a really beautiful solo guitar version by Al Owens.

Of course, the classic, September Song, by Kurt Weill from the 1938 musical, Knickerbocker Holiday, is the epitome of wistful, hopeful last love. I saw a revival of the play sometime in the 1960's with Bert Lancaster as Peter Stuyvesant. He spoke rather than sang the lyrics; it was a brilliant performance. It is a poetic metaphor that compares a year to a man's life span from birth to death. Again, excruciatingly beautiful comes to mind.

Hello, Young Lovers, from the 1951 musical, The King and I, which starred Gertrude Lawrence who sang the song, continues in the same vein. A lost love encouraging others, younger, to go on with the quest.

Near the bottom of this post there are links to the songs mentioned on YouTube so you can hear them for yourself, if you'd like. 

All these wonderful melodies were prepared and presented beautifully by conductor/arranger, Gordon Jenkins. September of My Years justly won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

Frank Sinatra ~ September of My Years
reel-to-reel detail
detail photo by Styrous®

A music review of the album I found online:
This 1965 collection of autumnal compositions, arranged and conducted by Gordon Jenkins, shows Sinatra looking back on his life and marveling quietly over his loves and losses. The recording was made in the year Sinatra turned 50. The mood is one of reflection and introspection. Even though he would go on recording for decades to come, Sinatra was at a point in his life where he had enough history behind him for 19 men, and his experiences come out in the heartfelt renderings of the songs here. While SEPTEMBER OF MY YEARS is best known for the wry, bittersweet "It Was A Very Good Year," there's much more to this album. The title song is an evocative summing up of the excesses and naivete of youth, leading up to the hard-earned wisdom of middle age. Kurt Weill's haunting "September Song" finds Sinatra making fine use of his storytelling abilities in service of an older man's cautionary tale. Upon this album's release, it was obvious that Sinatra still had many very good years to come. 

Track listing

Side one

1. "The September of My Years"  Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn - 3:12
2. "How Old Am I?"  Gordon Jenkins - 3:30
3. "Don't Wait Too Long" Sunny Skylar - 3:04
4. "It Gets Lonely Early"  Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn - 2:57
5. "This Is All I Ask"   Gordon Jenkins - 3:03
6. "Last Night When We Were Young"  Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg - 3:33
7. "The Man in the Looking Glass"  Bart Howard - 3:25

Side two

1. "It Was a Very Good Year"  Ervin Drake - 4:25
2. "When the Wind Was Green"  Henry Stinson - 3:22
3. "Hello, Young Lovers"  Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II - 3:41
4. "I See It Now"  Alec Wilder, William Engvick - 2:50
5. "Once Upon a Time"  Charles Strouse, Lee Adams - 3:30
6. "September Song"  Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson

Playing Time:    44 minutes
Producer:    Sonny Burke
Arranger, conductor: Gordon Jenkins
Engineer:     Lowell Frank
Distributor:    STEREOTAPE
Recording Type:    Studio
Recording Mode:    Stereo
Personnel: Frank Sinatra (vocals); Gordon Jenkins (arranger/conductor). 

Liner notes by Stan Cornyn.


Once Upon a Time lyrics:
Once upon a time a girl with moonlight in her eyes
Put her hand in mine and said she loved me so
But that was once upon a time, very long ago

Once upon a hill we sat beneath a willow tree
Counting all the stars and waiting for the dawn
But that was once upon a time, now the tree is gone

How the breeze ruffled through her hair
How we always laughed as though tomorrow wasn't there
We were young and didn't have a care, where did it go?

Once upon a time the world was sweeter than we knew
Everything was ours, how happy we were then
But somehow once upon a time, never comes again

Songwriters
Sean P. Adams, Joern Christoph Seelenmeyer and Benjamin Martell

Published by
Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, IMAGEM U.S. LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC


Music links:

It Was a Very Good Year on YouTube
September Song (1946) on YouTube
September Song (1956) on YouTube  
Once Upon a Time (Frank Sinatra) on YouTube
September of My Years on YouTube
Last Night When We Were Young on YouTube
Hello, Young Lovers on YouTube 
September of My Years full album on YouTube
Once Upon a Time by Frank Sinatra on YouTube
Once Upon a Time by Bobby Darin on YouTube
Once Upon a Time by Kevin Spacey on YouTube
Once Upon a Time by Andy Williams on YouTube
Once Upon a Time by Tony Bennett on YouTube
Once Upon a Time by Ray Bolger and Eileen Herlie on YouTube
Once Upon a Time by Al Owens (solo guitar) on YouTube


Other reel-to-reel listings on eBay 


more reel-to-reel tapes on the Styrous® Viewfinder:
                                             reel-to-reel tape archive



September of My Years, though sad and introspective, is a beautiful assemblage from beginning to end. There was never anything like it before and there has never been anything like it since.
Thanks, Frank.

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