Has Willie done a number on Frank?

I’d never have suspected anybody would try to improve on

Summer Wind Frank Sinatra

But just now I saw this attempt:

Willie Nelson - Summer Wind (Official Music Video)
Published on Jul 19, 2018

Want to weigh in on a preference?
How do you like Willie vs. Frank in this instance?

I was very skeptical; I’ve often disliked Willie Nelson’s style. I’m not that interested in comparing the two, because it’s not necessary - hey, we’ve got both! But I think Nelson has done a truly good job with this.

I can sometimes be a musical fuddy-duddy… “Kids these days, all flash and no substance, can’t sing a song straight ahead but have to rely on tricks and effects.” Well, Willie Nelson was not afraid to just sing that song straight up, and I admire him for it.

I prefer the arrangement and performances in Mr. Nelson’s rendition by far, but I think Mr. Nelson’s voice is the weakest part of the song. It isn’t bad; it’s just the least of the parts. His guitar playing and part were excellent, tho.

TBH, I don’t find it a very appealing song; it’s blandly pleasant is all.

I suspect that the song might have been chosen because the lines are short, rather than for being the greatest song of all time. However well (or not) he sings, Willie Nelson has (musically) serious breathing problems.

Willie has, for decades, released his interpretations of standards, most notably his quintuple platinum 1978 album Stardust.

He has now about to release an album of Sinatra songs, putting out Summer Wind as the first video.

As to the two version, Frank’s is undoubtedly the definitive classic. However, I did like Willie’s quite a bit. I wasn’t thrilled with some of the guitar work, but I thought the way it was sung really grabbed the wistful emotion and meaning of the lyrics in a way that I never got with Frank’s.

I agree. To me, Sinatra always sounds like he’s on a hill looking out at whatever he’s singing about; he’s above it, not a part of it. His voice often has a detached quality, somehow. Willie Nelson always sounds like he’s in-the-moment himself; his voice has a genuine immediacy.

Sinatra’s is far better than Willie’s. Better pacing and much better voice.

I wanted to describe how I felt, but can say it no better.

Frank Sinatra had a nice, velvety voice. JMESHO here, but I always have gotten a hint of arrogance in his delivery. It is like he is actually saying “Yeah, they are paying me a huge amount of money to sing this song, and I deserve it.” I do not find the emotion in Sinatra’s music believable. He seems way too wrapped up in himself to really care whether or not he has actually lost her to the Summer Wind.

Willie Nelson’s voice is an acquired taste and has always had a ragged edge. I think Willie has lived a harder life than Frank, and he comes across as world weary. There is a sadness and a wistful quality to Willie’s delivery here that makes him more believable. I much prefer the Willie Nelson version of this song, and I look forward to the rest of the album

Try listening to his 1 1/2 albums with Antonio Carlos Jobim or his sad songs and see if you might have a different impression of his style.

Iirc, in Quincy Jones autobiography, he wrote that no other singer he knew could find the emotional heart of a song like Sinatra. There is nothing arrogant about his sad songs. There is vulnerability and hurt. Most of these songs are deep cuts and aren’t well known. Many are on his compilation CDs.

I’m sorry, but I’m unlikely to hear anything that will change my mind. I grew up listening to Sinatra, to some degree; he was very popular with my grandparents (father’s side) and with a number of my aunts and older cousins back in the late 1960s and thru the 1970s. I also know way more Englebert Humperdinck, Mel Torme, Tom Jones and Connie Francis than most people my age for the same reason. ESPECIALLY Englebert; it was not a secret that Grandma had the hots for him.

I thought the comment about arrogance was fairly on-target, too. My Way is Sinatra’s signature tune, after all.

Arrogance has nothing to do with Sinatras style. Paul Anka wrote My Way. As I posted earlier, anyone can go back and listen to his sad introspective material and see that he is the opposite of arrogant.

He was the consummate professional. Again, not arrogance.

And linking the other artists to Sinatra is like linking The Monkeys and The Archies with The Beatles.

I don’t know… I can be convinced either way about Sinatra on any given day. I think his vocal tone usually had a very “cool and polished” character no matter what he was singing, and it’s not always easy to know if that was because he was just taking care of his voice (or a bit vain about the polished tone), or because he didn’t care what he was saying.

Janis Joplin he was not. :slight_smile:

Sinatra was known throughout his entire career for his ability to convey the emotion of a song. Most good singers of the era would sing a song and the feeling you came away with was ‘hey, that guy’s a good singer’. But when Sinatra sang, most of his listeners came away not only with the feeling that the song’s protagonist was truly feeling the sentiment of the song, but also in a way that made his listeners feel they were along for the ride. If the song was lighthearted, cheerful and breezy (Come Fly With Me, for example), his singing of it could transport his listeners into a light, cheerful and breezy mood. You felt you were on that plane to Peru with him. Or if the song was sad or remorseful (One For My Baby) you would feel his sadness and lost love yourself. And if the song was triumphant, as with New York, New York or My Way, he made you feel the same grit and determination that the song’s protagonist was experiencing.

In my estimation Sinatra was and remains the best singer of popular songs who ever lived. I recall watching a special that CBS broadcast on what would have been Sinatra’s 100th birthday that had popular current singers doing renditions of Sinatra’s songs, and reading later that most if not all were terrified at the prospect when first approached – “You want me to do a Sinatra song?”. But they soldiered on and gave it their all anyway, and they came across like I said before – as good singers skillfully hitting the notes. But the emotional reaction within the listener’s mind just wasn’t there.

I think what some see as arrogance in Sinatra’s singing is really just confidence. The impression of arrogance is probably boosted also by his actions in private life, where often his behavior was indeed arrogant. But Sinatra had great respect for music and took it seriously, and the only times I’ve ever perceived arrogance in any of his songs is when the song itself called for it, as was the case with New York, New York and* My Way*, and yet even in these songs he inserts elements of wistfulness and sensitivity that counterbalance the arrogance.

I doubt that I would have liked Frank Sinatra in person. By most accounts he had a sort of Jekyll & Hyde personality and was either generous and charitable, or cruel and hurtful, as the mood struck him. And he seemed like a hard guy to stay on the good side of.

But when it comes to both technical skill and the ability to convey the emotion of a song so as to make the listener truly feel what the song’s about, he is in my opinion head and shoulders above everyone else.

I will say the two I think come closest are Tony Bennett and Willie Nelson. I’ve been a fan of Willie Nelson for a long time. Saw him in concert in the late seventies and to this day I consider it one of the best concerts I’ve had the pleasure to experience. Unfortunately, I think Willie missed the mark with this tune. His voice was part of the problem, as was the incongruity between the style of the instrumentation and the style of his vocals. I gave up on it half way through.

Who wrote the song is completely irrelevant; it was also Sid Vicious’ signature tune, for instance.

Ah, an arrogant declaration against a declaration of arrogance! Excellent! And utterly unconvincing.

Were my grandmother still alive, I’d let her know the severity of her transgression in listening to them all instead of picking your favorite alone. :rolleyes:

So this has turned into a full-on battle of who’s better between Sinatra and Nelson. Too bad because Willie’s version is really nice and his voice sounds less ragged here then I’ve ever heard it. Plus he pulls off some groovy jazz on his guitar.

As for Sinatra’s version… yes. He sounds great. Why wouldn’t he? He’s Ol’ Blue Eyes. Pipes of Gold. But it doesn’t have quite the emotional pull for me that Nelson’s version has.

Willie, as usual, delivers a performance with heartfelt emotion and masterful phrasing, but is out of his depth technically, both vocally and on guitar, though he does have greater range than I would have guessed. He has excellent sidemen propping him up.

But I don’t think we should be comparing Willie Nelson in 2018 to Frank Sinatra in 1966. Not every cover is “trying to improve on.” Sinatra did it his way, Willie did it his way. Sinatra wasn’t the first one to record it, either–that goes to Wayne Newton. It was also recorded by Bobby Vinton and Perry Como, though I’m not sure whether that was before Sinatra.

I’m sure Willie was not thinking about improving on Sinatra. It might as well be two different songs.

I think at least part of this reflects the general tone of male vocal music during the time that he recorded that (1966).

With Sinatra in mind.

Please point out the arrogance in this 28 minute long album. Help me fight my ignorance.


Sinatra arrogance in fighting for civil rights in 1945 when it could get you labelled a commie and ruin a career.