Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely, Frank Sinatra
Capital Records, 1958
Track Listing: 1. Only the Lonely, 2. Angel Eyes, 3. What’s New?, 4. It’s a Lonesome Old Town, 5. Willow Weep for Me, 6. Good-Bye, 7. Blues in the Night, 8. Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry, 9. Ebb Tide, 10. Spring Is Here, 11. Gone with the Wind, 12. One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)
“If you find love
Hang on to each caress
And never let love go
For when it’s gone
You’ll know the loneliness
Only the lonely know”
-from “Only the Lonely”
In a late night candlelit café (or is it another smoky bar we’ve stumbled upon?), a piano plays softly from somewhere off in a darkened corner. Invisible ivory. The notes seem to come at their leisure, slowing to a crawl near the end of the ditty. One more minor note to polish it off. One more for the road. Last round? Perhaps, but really, impossible to tell. Here, time is nothing but elusive, a perpetual unknown. Daytime is nighttime and nighttime is eternal.
“It’s a lonesome old town when you’re not around
How I wish
You’d come back to me”
-from “It’s a Lonesome Old Town”
You can cut it with a knife, the misery that is as thick as the silence-shattering sighs. The dragon fumes that follow slither slowly through the air in dreamy, surreal waves. It is a recurring cycle that follows each exasperated exhale of cigarette smoke: air saturated with rings of despair rises out from the ashy mouths of ghouls. The only way to tell these old standbys apart may be to catch a whiff of their cocktails (or maybe their breath). Even then, it would still be difficult to distinguish one from the next. They’re plastered to stools in lonely bars across oceans, and they look like slivered reflections in broken mirrors. They dare not leave the spot they have been glued to forever. Not sure why (they wouldn’t be missed). Perhaps it is due to a fear of letting go for good and drowning in the sea of regret that soaks their tattered shoes and broken hearts.
“Pardon my asking what’s new
Of course you couldn’t know
I haven’t changed I still love you so”
-from “What’s New?”
But who is this mysterious stranger who defies logic (and the rules) and enters through the door of the dead, carrying a heartbeat so full? Something new, something new! It is a most odd convergence to be sure, when the axis unexpectedly shifts, leaving frowns and smiles to share equal billing on old barstools at the river’s edge. There is now a triumphant bounce to the steps that fill the previously stagnant room as those who have dusted off another 40-plus hour work week enter the tavern covered in the polished pride of their pressed suits and well-oiled shoes. They are so incredibly alive, juxtaposed with these hangers-on who have been stuck in the goo of limbo for who knows how long wearing their sad, old wrinkled faces that are locked in seductive gazes at shelves of shiny bottles (Cutty Sark, Stoli, Seagrams, Maker’s Mark, and on and on and on). The sudden dance of the happy hour is like a fog lifting, replaced by the piercing glow of the sun’s spotlight. A quarter slips into a jukebox—kerchink—and sweet music fills the air. Time, which had been blurred in a black hole of immeasurability, is now neatly framed, at long last.
But make no mistake; neither the revelation of the time of day (early evening Friday) nor the invasion of smiles can erase the cloud of stale sorrow that lingers like a bad odor over this morgue.
“Hey, drink up all you people
Order anything you see
Have fun you happy people
The drink and the laugh’s on me”
-from “Angel Eyes”
An ornery oboe makes its play, refusing to let the newest bar patrons (or even the stalwart piano or sexy saxophone) steal all the glory. This boulevard of broken dreams is a crowded lot indeed.
“I’ll never forget how we promised one day
To love one another that way”
It won’t last. It could never last. And sure enough, before too much longer, the buzz of the room begins to fizz. Bottles empty. The jukebox interuption ends and the invisible band resumes. The front door opens and closes (whoosh!), opens and closes (bang!), and the room returns to its well-defined order. Perhaps the laughter and energy were only a dream.
“Excuse me while I disappear”
-from “Angel Eyes”
The unreliable happiness fades as fast as it appeared and the last of the rowdy revelers leave the room just as they found it, empty and quiet (dying and dead) save the sorry souls who dissolve back into the black.
“Gone with the wind
Just like a leaf that has blown away”
-from “Gone with the Wind”