There aren’t many people who are instantly recognized by one name — Madonna, Pele, Oprah, Elvis, Liberace, Bono, Houdini.
Of all of them, one stands out in my mind: Sinatra.
Francis Albert Sinatra, who died May 14, 1998, at the age of 82, was the consummate vocalist who could sing any kind of pop song — and in various ways. He recorded five versions of Cole Porter’s classic “Night and Day,” each different in style, each beautifully performed.
Which gets me to how many songs he recorded during his incredible career. My research shows it’s between 1,200 and 1,800. Those numbers include songs he recorded more than once and tunes outside of a studio.
Bob F., identified as a “forum resident” on The Steve Hoffman Music Forums website, writes: “… I counted: In his WOW (the Where Or When CD-ROM database) ‘The Frank Sinatra Legacy’ researcher Giuseppe Marcucci lists 1,766 different non-parody song titles.”
Bob F. adds: “A number of those are ‘short takes’ or ‘short parodies,’ i.e. incomplete songs, but I weeded out parody titles which are duplicates or variations of other songs. Many of those listed were sung only on radio or in concert (of which most have been recorded in some form or another). I’d estimate there are no more than 1,700 complete legitimate songs which Sinatra sang at some point in his career.”
In an earlier post, Bob F. had mentioned the number of released commercial studio recordings was about 1,200 tracks, including repetitions, of at most 1,000 unique songs.
Any way you look at it, the numbers are staggering.
You’d think that with Sinatra’s incredible output, there’d be some clunkers. And there are, though not many. Except for the last few years of his career, when age had finally caught up with his voice, Sinatra consistently produced superior work. Lackluster stuff could be attributed to inferior lyrics and/or arrangements.