Crooning with Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack



In 1982, I had the privilege of being in a head-on car crash with crooning royalty, Frank Sinatra. Though I spent the next year in traction, the friendship that developed between myself and Old Blue Eyes was worth the agonising rehabilitation. Doctors were critical that I focused on learning to croon again before learning to talk again, but when you’ve got an opportunity to learn from the master? You have to take it.

For six months, crooning was my only mode of communication. I’d croon deli orders, croon the guy in the adjacent cubicle to pass some bog roll under the partition — I was even crooning heavy breather phone calls to the girl I was obsessed with.

This behaviour only came to a head when my wife Imelda hung herself in March 1983, directly attributing her unhappiness to an overdose of second-hand crooning. Her suicide note read simply…

I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. CROONING, MORNING NOON AND NIGHT. PASS THE SALT, DOO-BEE-DOO-BEE-DOO, DID YOU PUT PETROL IN THE CAR, DOO-BEE-DOO-BEE-DOO. YOU’RE A F*CKING PSYCHO. CROON CROON CROON, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Shockingly, the ‘Ahhhhhhhh’ in Imelda's note was forty to fifty times longer than the one I’ve recounted above. Her death sent me spiralling into a weekend-long depression from which Frank eventually rescued me. He was a sturdy crutch to me during that time, and we even crooned a duet at Imelda’s funeral. It’s undoubtedly not what she would have wanted (several of her relatives stormed out), but I’ve been told we were scintillating.

Frank did eventually drop me like a new-born baby with a freshly discovered tail, but not before we delivered some electrifying, sell-out Rat Pack concerts on the Las Vegas strip. Some musicologists regard the line-up of myself, Frank, Sammy and Dean as the halcyon days. Our on-stage banter was legendary, though it did often descend into petty squabbling. I present now the transcript of our now infamous meltdown during a show in The Bellagio Hotel in 1983:

Frank Sinatra: …and I did it, my way.

(Audience applause)

Frank Sinatra: Thank you. Thank you very much. Would you now welcome on stage some friends of mine. I think you know their names.

(More audience applause)

Dean Martin: Man, I could listen to you sing that song all day long Franky Baby.
Frank Sinatra: Thanks Deano, but I doubt you could do anything all day long.

(Audience laughter)

Sammy Davis Junior: It’s like you reinvent the song every night, man.
Frank Sinatra: That’s because I can’t remember the damn words.

(Audience laughter)

Me: I thought it was shite.

(Smattering of uncomfortable laughter, receding into awkward silence)

Frank Sinatra: Why you ungrateful Paddy. Six months ago you thought a crooner was a type of fish.

(Smattering of uncomfortable laughter)

Sammy Davis Junior: Fellas, fellas, let’s have a song.
Dean Martin: A song, a song? Ring-a-ding-dong.
Me: What does that even mean Dean?
Dean Martin: Don’t talk to me like that, you God damned blow-in.
Me: You’re overrated Dean. You know it. I know it. The audience knows it.
Dean Martin: Now just a minute…

Sammy Davis Junior: Uncool man. Frank brings you in, and this is how you repay him? Embarrassing us all on stage? Unprofessional and uncool, man.
Me: Frank did bring me in. But I’m crooning at an advanced level now. He taught me everything he knows.
Frank Sinatra: Not everything, you punk. I’m gonna pop you right in the mouth, Irish.
Me: Why? Because I’m honest? It wasn’t your best performance tonight Frank. And these two jokers? They couldn’t croon their way out of a Turkish prison.

Audience Member 1: (muffled) You suck.
Me: Who said that? Come on, who said it? Why don’t you come up here and repeat that?
Audience Member 2: (muffled) Nobody even knows who the f*ck you are.
Me: Big man, shouting from the shadows. Stand up, and let's see how brave you are.
Dean Martin: Now hold on mister. You never diss the audience.
Me: Ah, screw off Martin, you overrated fossil. I’d teach you to croon, but you wouldn’t know what to do with the sheer, raw power.
Frank Sinatra: I’ve heard enough. Vito? Salvatori? Take this scumbag out back.

Mr Sinatra’s goons dealt me a ferocious beating in the alleyway behind the hotel. Ironically, the head trauma stole my ability to croon. Easy come, easy go, I guess.

Old Rants

Rant by www.rant.ie is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Copyright © 2009 Flann O'Coonassa