My 30 Minutes With Sinatra: The Saddest Thing of All

What was Frank Sinatra like to work with in the recording studio? Find out in this memoir, NEVER SAY NO TO A ROCK STAR: IN THE STUDIO WITH DYLAN, JAGGER, SINATRA AND MORE by the recording engineer who was there. Here’s an excerpt:

The Voice took off his headphone and walked into the control room. He said, “Let’s do a playback.”

We listened together silently with the reverence that always befits such moments.

Sinatra’s rendering was stellar. In 1975 he was certainly past his prime. His voice shook at moments but this only added poignancy to the lyrics of loss and time gone by. This touching song, written by Michel LeGrand and interpreted by the consummate master, was redolent of what the Spanish called duende, a magical quality that comes from aging and pain and is suffused with an awareness of death.

When the melancholic French horns announced the arrival of the chorus, Frank sang,

“Life is sad, when people hurt you,

Sad when friends desert you,

Sad when dreams get lost beyond recall,

But remembering from spring to lonely spring,

Well, that’s the saddest thing of all.”

As I listened, I thought of my dad who had died at 49, a few years before, a guy who looked a bit like a Jewish version of Frank. He would have loved to have known that I got to sit in a room with Frank Sinatra, got to hit the record button for this guy, got to adjust his microphone. We were an audience of four: Costa, his bodyguard, Blakin, and me. My dad would have loved that. But my old man was gone, and he would never know. The duende hit me, and my eyes brimmed with tears.

The track came to its end. I hit stop. Frank nodded and smiled. Most singers would worry a track like this for many hours, days, or weeks. But not Frank. He nailed it in one take. The whole thing was over in 30 minutes.   READ MORE

Never Say Final Cover front

 

Now, for the first time, you can hear that never before released, pristine mix we did that day. If you’d like to hear it, contact me by clicking the box below, and I’ll get you a copy.

Dr. Glenn Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business and artist’s coach, and young person’s mentor. He sees patients in New York City, in Mt. Kisco, NY, and around the world by Skype.

20 comments

  1. Debbie Feldman Jones /

    Love it! You are a fine writer, Glenn.
    dfj

  2. angela cappelli /

    Hi Glen! I love reading these! You actually made me cry with this one. You are a wonderful writer as well as many other things, I see. It’s funny how, when we used to work together at Look and Co, I had no idea what your past experience was. We were just there doing our jobs and then off we went to do other jobs. You have had an amazing career in the music business and now you’re a doctor! Wow! Continue having a wonderful life and please keep these nostalgic renderings coming!

    My best to you! Angela

  3. Anne Palmer /

    Beautiful story Glen…. And what wonderful memories.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Anne

  4. Glenn,

    A rich memory like this is something you can lean into year after year, deriving deep pleasure every time.

    I searched on YouTube for Frank singing this tune, but I couldn’t find it. Instead, I heard the instrumental rendition by Legrand and loved it.

    Thanks for sharing this touching experience that surely adds dimension to your life and work.

  5. Glenn,

    Thanks so much for sharing this. An interesting insight of the man and written in a style befitting him as well.

  6. Don Shewey /

    Gold! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your music-biz remembrances, and this is excellent as usual, beautifully focused on the detail of Sinatra’s microphone technique and how that places him in the history of music performance. I remember as a kid my parents, in their completely unsophisticated response to music, talking about Peggy Lee and how small her voice was and how her career wouldn’t have existed without microphones, which they seemed to mean as a criticism of her. My mother was a true bobby-soxer, a teenager when Frank Sinatra was brand-new, and a big fan. Like I am of you. 🙂

  7. Excellent post Glenn. Moving. Had no idea you once worked with Sinatra!

  8. Beautifully remembered and written. I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a musician and writer myself, it’s doubly inspiring.

  9. Dr. Berger,
    I felt as if I was on that recording date, through your total recall writing, you immerse the reader into the scenario with your descriptive narrative and first person remembrances. As a lifelong FS afficionado, this article was fascinating – I savored every detail. You have had a multifaceted life and you are obviously quite adept in all that you do! Thanks for the memories. 🙂
    Warm Regards,
    George Lyons

  10. Sam Ginsberg /

    Glenn: “Ears Blaken” Nick Dimino, Mitch Plotkin….Blasts from the past…I think working on a Sinatra session is something no one would ever forget. I love your posts, it really brings me back. I worked with Ed Rice two nights with the “GodFather of Soul” James Brown… I think I was the only “white boy” allowed to be on those sessions. Live with James Brown and his Musicians singing in the middle of the studio doing his thing! ONE TAKE…Bernard Perdie ,the remarkable drummer, said something that was not appropriate to say to me and ED RICE the ENGINEER, called him on it and Purdie apologized…Amazing the little things that stick in our minds.
    I sat in the audience in the ‘Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame’ for the induction of Sinatra. With my My Wife Sherry Ring SVP of Elektra Records He was so inebriated he could not get passed what he was saying and the curtain came down…The next day in the NY POST it was the insult of the century…They brought the curtain down on ‘The Chairman of the Board’…All things must pass… I guess they all do…

    • Radley Fricker /

      Man, I’m interested to know what Bernard said to you. Must’ve been a different time back then…I’d always pictured him as a really nice guy.

  11. A wonderful story; masterfully told. Thank you.
    BTW, the track has been posted on YouTube now.
    I found it at:
    http://youtu.be/atv2F0JZWHY

  12. Clear music and sound help make for a better world!
    DivaAnnFisher

  13. Really enjoyed this article. It reminds me of a few sessions I’ve had over the years. These are the sessions that you wait for. I would love to hear a copy of the song.

    -Chris

  14. Nice piece! Thanks for sharing! How can I listen to a copy of the audio?

  15. “The duende hit me, and my eyes filled with tears.”
    Dear Glenn,
    The same thing happened to me as I read this piece. You paid it foreword. Can’t wait to devour your book.
    Your fan,
    Kevin

  16. I was a film Stand-In for some time as a young actor. Your finely written piece reminded me of how ify it is to be up front with some of the bigs in their rehearsal, watching closely their every move so I could replicate them for hours of set up by lights and camera… and consequently in proxmity to endure, survive or enjoy the vibe of the folks I was standing in for. How ths enormous talent made us all feel relaxed and excited to do the best we could and how that other aggresively defensive asshole made us so nervous there was bound to be a reason for his ego to have a fit of set rage. What got me was how it was the very biggest who were so often the most anxious to lower the tension… so they could relax and enjoy, with us, the joy of doing a great job. Anyway, a great piece, yours and thankyou for a wonderful read! I will look for your book in the spring.

    Cheers, Russ Bentley

  17. Bill Hosch /

    Great account of the session. You made all the technical aspects make complete sense. I miss the analog days!

  18. Paulette March /

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories. So sad your dad could not have shared them. Hopefully your children and grand-children will come to appreciate Frank

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