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WHAT A WEEK!

Too many passings since our last connection.  As you know, B.B. King, an American original, left us.  And we lost the legendary Warner Brothers and Reprise record executive, Stan Cornyn.

Screen shot 2015-05-19 at 6.07.36 PMStan Cornyn, King of the Liner Notes

From the New York Times obit… Stan Cornyn, an offbeat recording industry executive known both for his unusual promotions and for his album notes died on Monday (May 11) at his home in Carpinteria, Calif.  Cornyn “…played a vital role in (Reprise Record’s) growth.  His advertising and promotion campaigns in the 1960s and ’70s helped raise the profiles of many artists, including Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison. 

He was often referred to as the King of the Liner Notes.  Cornyn was nominated for five Grammy Awards, writing about Sinatra, and won twice: for September of My Years (1965) and Sinatra at the Sands (1966).” 

As a young student of Sinatra, Stan’s descriptive liner notes took me where I wanted to be most, to the very epicenter of those recording sessions.  Here are a few examples of Stan’s “You Are There” writing style.

Screen shot 2015-05-19 at 6.11.18 PMFor the 1965 Frank Sinatra album, September of My Years Stan wrote: “Tonight will not swing. Tonight is for serious,” describing the intense anticipation in a recording studio just before Sinatra arrived. “Outside, in the hall, the uniformed guards wait and wonder what to do with their hands.”

“Unruly fiddle players, who love recording like they love traffic jams, tonight they bring along the wives, who wait to one side in black beaded sweaters.”

“And these wives and these fiddle players and all of these are different tonight. For in a few minutes a poet will begin to speak of years ago.”

 

Screen shot 2015-05-19 at 6.17.13 PMFor Strangers in the Night (1966), Cornyn wrote: “When he sings at you, doesn’t look at you.  He looks about six inches behind your eyes.  His eyes a little far away. 

A little closer to where truth lives.  If you want to pick a word for it, pick one in seven easy letters. Honesty.”

 

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For the 1966 album Sinatra at the Sands Stan wrote, “Sinatra turns to the audience and tells them he’s going to sing a saloon song. And silently you can almost hear the perfumed ladies think ‘Yeah”’and the close-shaved, shiny-cheeked men think ‘Yeah’ and the waiters stop in doorways and think ‘Yeah’.   And with just piano behind him, Sinatra turns actor.  The man whose broad’s left him with some other guy and all of the loot…  And there is silence all about, for this audience is watching a man become that last lucked-out guy at the bar, the last one, with nowhere to go but sympathy city.”

 

Screen shot 2015-05-19 at 6.28.47 PMFinally, this excerpt from Ol’ Blue Eyes is Back (1973). He sings with is hands up top of the music stand, holding firm on the music stand, trying hard. In shirt sleeves, light blue, three buttons per cuff, little puffs at the shoulders.

He sings and it’s the voice that brings it all back and you realize that not one – isn’t it curious? – not one other voice so clear and clean in all the years has come along, not one other. He is still, no contest the best this world knows. And tonight ol’ blue eyes is back…”

“During playback, Sinatra concentrates, eyes shifting from chair to table top but not to any other eye, hearing only.

String men, violins and violas, who don’t get called in to record as they once did, string men standing around the speakers now, listening, when a couple of years back they were out in the hall phoning their service.

And at the end of the playback, the white-haired expensive men stay sitting upright, applauding on their knees and saying, ‘Magnificent!’”  Ol’ blue eyes is back as the singer who’ll still close his eyes when he’s getting into it… The song is ending, the violin’s last string echoing through the stage.”

Screen shot 2015-05-19 at 6.41.41 PM“Sinatra puts up his hand, so no one squeaks. Egg shell city.  And this, from a man of no little confidence, is to be The Take… 

Another Sinatra song is recorded, for a world that still needs them.

Sinatra walks again into the center of it all. ’I figure,’ he says, ‘we got a record.’”

Stan Cornyn’s promotional contributions to the Warner effort were, according to many, trailblazing.  Yet for me, his singular ability to capture the very special recording history playing-out behind doors that would have otherwise been closed to us all is uniquely significant.

Stan Cornyn was 81.

 

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WHAT’S NEXT

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A sampling of those wonderful “V -Discs” or Victory Discs, those very special recordings made in support of the war effort in the forties.

These customized recordings were morale boosters, ferried to theaters of war, large and small.  They were of particular value in forward areas, deemed too precarious to welcome USO shows.

The show we put together on Frank’s V-Disc output always generates requests for a replay.  Here we go.

Checkout THE V-DISCS when we open THE SINATRA SONGBOOK, Saturday, May 23 at 6pm ET and Sunday, May 24 at 8am ET exclusively on Metromedia Radio.

Listen Live link – http://tunein.com/radio/Metromedia-Radio-s203898/

 

to be continued…

 

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THE SINATRA SONGBOOK premiered in 1974.  Yours truly, this radio series and THE SINATRA SONGBOOK Facebook Page are not affiliated with the Facebook group that carries this name. Nor is this series related to the Myspace page that carries our name.