And, in his professional capacity, Miller is the economical accompanist, setting off his employer's vocal and Harold Arlen's melody to maximum effect. There is the same duality in Sinatra's singing: a perfectly controlled performance of a man who's falling apart. There are four recordings of this song by Sinatra, but the classic is the one made in 1958. His favourite arranger, Nelson Riddle, provided the discreetest of string-and-woodwind punctuation, but the burden of the accompaniment is born by Bill Miller, Sinatra's pianist. He plays undulating chords in the background with a peculiar mixture of empathy and detachment, a kind of eternal bar-room honky-tonk man. He also offers a comment on the song and the man who sings it; he's the man who's heard it all before, the hypnotic repetitiveness of his playing suggesting some vast uncaring ocean, in which the protagonist's tears can be swallowed up and forgotten.
IN concert Frank Sinatra used to introduce "One For My Baby", the most celebrated saloon ballad in his repertoire, with an extended passage of spoken scene-setting. Over the years his description of the lonely loser at the bar became exaggeratedly flip and hip ("his chick flew the coop ... took all the bread"), but when, finally, he broke into song ("It's quarter to three, there's no one in the place") he was instantly another man. All three would have appalled Frank but their way with a lyric, a suit and an audience would have been familiar.There is a catch to all this that our barfly should be aware of: to get away with attitude like Sinatra's, you've got to be a genius.
Presenting his elder with a Grammy award for a lifetime of achievement, a nervous Bono described him as "this singer who makes other men poets, boxing clever with every word, talking like America To sing like that, you gotta have lost a couple of fights.". Are you?"Their collaboration was recorded in studios on opposite sides of the Atlantic. It was one of the bolder ideas on the album, the coming together of a man whose eminence in popular music pre-dated and outlasted Elvis, and an Irishman with earrings who liked to dress up as the devil in a gold lame suit. But there was a link between them, a swagger and a poise, a presence on stage and in person, an ability to dominate proceedings without seeming to.There are other contemporary performers who have that elusive quality we might call Frankness: Tom Waits, a master at subverting the art of the saloon bar singer; Nick Cave, the Australian gothic balladeer; and kd lang, the lesbian crooner. Bono, lead singer of the group U2, knows what it is, and admires it in Sinatra. Asked to sum him up after they sang together on the album Duets in 1993 he said: "Rock'n'roll people love Frank Sinatra because Frank Sinatra has got what we want: swagger and attitude He's big on attitude - serious attitude, bad attitude Frank's the chairman of the bad Rock'n'roll plays at being tough, but this guy is .. well, he's the boss of bosses The man The big bang of pop I'm not gonna mess with him.