Below is part of an interview I did with Nancy Sinatra from Jun. 97 - Sept 97.
Q Recently it has been reported that you are working with Martin Scorsese on a project about your father. Is this going to be a documentary or a bio-pic? A My project with Martin Scorsese is a documentary film for theatres, television, video (probably DVD) and CDI and/or CD-rom. It is based on my book, Frank Sinatra American Legend, but with the title: Frank Sinatra American Baritone. We expect it is a year and a half away. Q What do you feel was the greatest period in Frank Sinatra'a career? (Harry James, Dorsey, Columbia, Capitol ,Reprise) A Tough question. Personally speaking, the Columbia years are the most sentimental for me. My parents were together through most of that time and we were a happy, (sort of) normal family. The songs represent special times and feelings I hold very close. Although the Harry James portion of the Columbia recordings was really the start of Dad's career. All Or Nothing at All wasn't a hit until after Dad had left James for Dorsey and changed to RCA, which was Dorsey's label. The Dorsey/RCA songs were chosen by Dorsey, not Frank, so though they influenced his later choices, Dad really had little to do with the songs, except to perform them. When he returned to Columbia, this time with Axel Stordahl, Dad chose the material and collaborated on the style of arrangements. His tastes began to broaden and the scope widened. Now the songs represented his feelings more. Reflected his life more clearly. The Capitol years were definitely the most metamorphic. His life changed and so did his voice, his clothes, choice of material and arrangements. I always think of this period as the butterfly leaving the safety of the cocoon and flying for the first time. He was really feeling his oats, as they say. The concept album became the perfect vehicle for him - and it WAS HIS. In a sense he owned the idea. My personal choice: In the Wee Small Hours. Sad and sweet, but without the wrist-cutting pain of Only the Lonely. A prolific time indeed. I was a teenager and one of my favorite things to do was go to his record sessions. This was the MOST FUN period. Reprise was his baby. He nurtured it. He fed it the best talent roster he could muster. The wisdom gained from all the experience is clearly evident now. He became the elder statesman of American Music, and deservedly so. Musically, some of his finest work. My personal favorite: The Concert Sinatra. I was fortunate to attend those sessions at The Goldwyn Studios, and I tell you, it was breathtaking....And no echo chamber! If your question had been about INFLUENCE, I would have to say: Capitol, BUT Your question had to do with GREATNESS. So, I believe my answer has to be: Reprise Q You recorded three songs with your father. Were there any plans for future projects? A The last song Dad and I worked on was "Nice'n'Easy". It was supposed to have been for the second duets album. FS and Phil Ramone were not happy with Dad's vocal performance, so we did not add my voice to it. There was no time to redo before the release date. Now we are working on the documentary film. I want Frank's voice to be the only voice. He is helping me chosing the music etc. We never stop! You can't keep a good guy down. Q In the early eighties you went on tour with your father. How was that experience? A I traveled with, and opened the shows for Dad for two years - for two reasons: 1)I wanted to afford my children a chance to see what their grandfather did as a performer, and thus, get to know their famous relative as a grandpa and not just a voice on a tape or the radio. AJ and Amanda traveled with us when they were not in school. Many of our most memorable times, the ones we still talk about a lot, happened during those two years. Some of the fondest memories my kids have of their own father occurred on the trips we made together. He died when they were only nine and eleven, so now at twenty-one and twenty-three, their memories of him are dim and few. Caesar's Palace, Resorts International, Harrah's, The Universal Amphitheatre etc. It seems that the buildings, the venues themselves, help to remind them of their daddy. 2)The second reason I wanted to travel with my dad was to be close to him again. Having babies and raising my own family took so much of my time, I didn't have a chance to be with him very often. With all of us traveling together, we were able to accomplish that re-connection. So when he suggested I open his shows, I accepted without really thinking things through. I had no arrangements for the band we were going to work with - Woody Herman. My charts were for full orchestras with strings. I hadn't been on stage since I was pregnant with AJ and I hadn't worked on my voice either. Use it or lose it applied to the nth degree. Dad and Hugh (my husband) helped me get it together and I did fairly well, but it didn't really matter. Frank's audience doesn't care if a girl singer, a comic or an organ grinder with a monkey opens the show. They are there to see HIM. It was a wonderful experience and one I will never forget. Espescially the birthday parties and apres-show fun. It was a total re-bonding for all of us. Q Obviously your biggest hit was "Boots". What do you consider your best work? Why? A The records I made for the first five years I was on Reprise were "bubble-gum" novelty songs. They were arranged and produced by Tutti Camarata, Don Costa and Jimmy Bowen - an amazing collection of names eh? Some of the songs I did then are still favorites of mine: "In The Wee Small Hours...", "True Love", "Like I Do". (I even wrote a couple of the bubble gum songs) Some of them went as high as #1 on foreign charts. I was a "star" in Italy, Austrailia, Germany and Japan before the American stations ever paid attention at all. After Lee Hazlewood got me my first chart record, "So Long Babe", and things started to happen here, my choice of material was extremely limited. It was a weird situation, to say the least. I was on the charts for a few years, but I wasn't allowed to grow as an artist. My albums were nicer to look at than to listen to. I am the daughter of the Chairman of the Board and thus, was raised with concept albums and great music. I was successful with mediocre material because of a good recording voice that people really liked at that time. My desire to record better and different songs was not of interest to Reprise Records. You win some - you lose some. The one hit song that I have tremendous gratitude for is "Boots", because it has a life of it's own. It's like being identified with a brand name. Boos - Nancy -- Nancy - Boots. They go together. But as far as LOVING goes, "Friday's Child" and "Love Eyes" are Lee Hazlewood's shining hours, as is his duet, "Arkansas Coal Suite". My absolute favorite recordings of mine are, "Nice 'n' Easy", "Old Devil Moon", "Machine Gun Kelly" (never released), and "Hook and Ladder". I also got very lucky when I did the title song for "You Only Live Twice". People still love that song today. They cheer when they here the INTRO! I have been extremely fortunate. My dad always told me, "Stay away from what I do and you'll be fine." He was right, of course - even though I would have preferred HIS music to mine.......... Q In the latter years your father had some problems on stage. What do you think kept him going night after night? A Dad's eyes were bothering him for a long time before he stopped personal appearances. His problems came more from this than anything else. He had a terrible time reading the prompters, made some mistakes and people became concerned about his health. Perhaps he should have stopped sooner, but I know he always felt that the people needed him. He tried desperately to accomodate them by traveling to them. He is fully aware of the joy he brings to his fans and knows they wish to be in the same room with him, to touch him, have him touch them. The last 2 shows in the U.S. were in Chicago and St. Louis. I don't know what made me go on the trip with him, but I'm so very glad I did. They were two of the finest concerts I've ever seen - EVER! It was as though he knew he would be going back. He gave them everything he had. I have NEVER seen ANYTHING like it. When he asked my brother to help him, I knew he had done the right thing. Frankie knew Dad's music better than anyone else and was able to help him in a personal way as well. Frankie enjoyed, as he put it, "giving something back" to his father. It was a good 9-year experience for both of them. Though the fact Frankie was there with him was a factor (I doubt Dad would have made it as long without him), the main reason Dad was able to continue against the odds, at 78 and 79 years old was the people. It was the people that kept him going. Q The success of the "Duets" albums brought Sinatra to a whole new audience. While many Sinatraphiles reject many of the chosen duet partners these artists attracted many non-Sinatra listeners to discover Sinatra the man and his music. What do you think of these two albums? A The Duets albums are interesting and fun, though not my favorites. I'd much rather listen to "Wee Small Hours" or the "Concert Album". But, I do appreciate the notion of pairing Frank with artists that might seem off the wall. I love when cultures and generations come together in a positive way in any field or subject - especially in music. The power of music continues to amaze me. It really breaks down the boundaries and walls. I'm sorry some people were offended by this concept. I guess they did not see the value of the joining of musical forces. It's too bad really. Another reason I'm so delighted the Duets albums were made is technology. My father is the only singer in our history - and will always hold this for his own - who has held a megaphone, a microphone and "telephone" to record. From the '30s to the '90s he has touched every possible way of recording sound and film. The fiber optics of those albums was the icing on his techno-cake. He has done it all. Q Recently with your fathers health problems, The tabloids have gone out of control with all kinds of crazy stories. Do you have a comment on why these tabloids constantly harass your father, yourself and your family? A Whoever said, "I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it," summed up our family philosophy, i suppose. There are reasons for celebrities to resent the First Amendment sometimes, but that is a very dangerous attitude. The trick is to overturn the "NY Times v Sullivan" precedent. That would be very interesting because that is the case that said a public person has no right to privacy. It is okay for someone as strong and important as Frank, but what about the "little guy" whose life can be ruined by the kind of slander my dad has withstood virtually all of his life? It is a scary thought, especially now, with the computer capabilities out there. As our lawyer put it recently, and I am paraphrasing: no one is safe anymore. Ronald Reagan could end up in Debbie Does Dallas 12! I think most people are aware of the garbage in the tabloids and don't give them a lot of credence. Then again there are those people who believe the written word, no matter who writes it. The only thing that saves my sanity is that it passes in a week and ends up in the trash - which is where it belongs. It's too bad the public has this insatiable appetite. No demand - no supply. They would just go away..... The saddest thing is that the horrible stories about Dad's health cause people who care about him to worry so much. It really upsets them. That is one of the reasons we started our web site. I knew that people would appreciate being told the truth; that there is finally a place they can rely on for accurate information. ► Home