[Monday Notes no. 21] Of all the possible nicknames for Frank Sinatra, The Voice is probably not the most appropriate. To be clear: his voice is warm and pleasant, but Frank’s greatness is not so much in his voice as in his ability to interpret songs as if he were singing them for the first time. His interpretation of The Girl Next Door is an excellent example.
Frank Sinatra is still an actor even when he sings, and perhaps because of this, he is the greatest interpreter of American song. At the centre of his interpretations are always the words, his perfect diction proves it. I challenge you to find another English-speaking singer, not only of jazz but also of pop, who has such clear pronunciation.
The Girl Next Door was first performed by Judy Garland in the film Meet Me in St.Louis, the opening verse is in the key of E♭ while the main theme (minute 1’11”) modulates to the key of A♭. In American music, the verse has an introductory function similar to that of the recitative in European music.
The melody conveys cheerfulness and lightness, emphasised by the 3/4 time. The lyrics are full of humour, for example when the author, in order to prove that he is talking precisely about his neighbour, feels compelled to tell us the exact address (0’55”). But if you have some confidence with English, you will have no difficulty in following Frank Sinatra and what he tells us about his charming neighbour.
Until next Monday!
Dedicated to Inez, the great Frank Sinatra fan that every musician would want as a neighbour