Gotta tell you I'm pretty pumped. I was going to write about something totally different today for this blog but then I got an email from Chuck Granata that made my day, so I thought I share it with you. Chuck's the well known and respected American music historian, author and record and radio producer. I'd been aware of Chuck for some time and read his books, so when it came time to get some professional perspectives on the song "I'll Never Smile Again" written by Ruth Lowe, he was a natural. I reached out and Chuck agreed to be interviewed for the book I've recently completed about Ruth: "Until I Smile At You". You may be aware that Ruth wrote the song that electrocuted young Frank Sinatra's career in 1940 and shot him to the top of the charts. She also wrote Sinatra's theme song, "Put Your Dreams Away". But here's the thing about that first song: it was a sad lament born from the sudden death of Ruth's young husband. All the competing songs of the time were from Hollywood movies and Broadway shows and were fun, up tempo tunes. So how could this sad song eclipse all of them and rise to the top the charts for months?
To get my answer, I decided to seek out some real experts: Bernie Taupin (Elton John's lyricist for 50+ years), Sir Tim Rice (who writes songs with Andrew Lloyd Webber), Alan Bergman (who's won every kind of award writing songs with his wife Marilyn for Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, etc.), David Clayton-Thomas (who recently recorded "I'll Never Smile Again" for a new album), the late Frank Sinatra Jr., Sinatra biographer James Kaplan, and many others. Of course, this group included Chuck Granata.
I got some absolutely wonderful descriptions on how Ruth's music transcended so many other songs and Chuck and I bonded through our mutual love of music and writing. (He told me, "I don't see how you can improve on perfection. And that song to me is truly perfection.") So, later on, when the idea occurred to me that it would be perfect to have Frank Sinatra's daughter Nancy write the foreword for my book, I contacted Chuck since he produces Nancy's weekly radio show, "Nancy for Frank" (I'd first tried to reach out to her directly through her website but the link was broken). After all, Nancy had said, "That song followed my dad his whole life and I think it was probably because so many people identified with it in the first place." Following which she told Ruth Lowe's son Tom Sandler (Tommy to his friends, so named by his mom after Tommy Dorsey), "Tommy, most people would give their eye teeth to have ONE hit with my dad... your mom had TWO!!").
Chuck agreed that Nancy was the ideal person to do the foreword and said he'd be happy to take my request to her. I was delighted... but then waited... and waited... and waited. Nothing. I didn't want to bug Chuck, but knowing how busy he is, I began to wonder if he'd forgotten. So I reached out again, only to learn that no, he'd not forgotten but Nancy was just so busy herself. He was pretty sure she'd do it... but I'd have to be patient (never a natural state for me!). A couple of months went by... nothing. So I finally reached out to Chuck again. Same thing: she'll get to it but she's preoccupied right now dealing with her late mother's estate.
Anyway, to make a long story short (yeah, I now, too late now!), at least six months went by. I finally figured it wasn't going to happen and I was disappointed since Nancy truly was the perfect person to do this. But, you know, ya win some, ya lose some.
Next up: I began thinking of others who might be qualified to handle the foreword. But this morning, doesn't my email arrival signal go off and here is a message from Chuck:
"Hello Peter, is it too late for you to use the Nancy Sinatra piece for your book? It has finally come together and I will have Nancy’s final sign off on it by Wednesday. We both apologize for the delay in completing it; Nancy has been dealing with settling her mom’s estate. Let me know...
Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather! I got right back to Chuck and said how thrilled I was and how much I look forward to receiving her draft this week.
Patience won out!!
Meanwhile tomorrow - August 12, will be the 105th anniversary of the birth of Ruth Lowe, so this couldn't come at a more serendipitous time! I'll be joining Tommy tomorrow night at Toronto's famous Casa Loma where soul singer Sean Jones will be "interviewing" Tommy on stage and then he'll sing "I'll Never Smile At You" backed up by a wonderful orchestra. Gonna be a blast!!