Sinatra: Song by Song
September 6, 2012
- Susan Mazer with Frank Sinatra, Jr.
What does music have to do with hospitals, healthcare, the patient experience, and with the political and global conflicts we are all witnessing on a daily basis? In every culture and throughout history, music has provided a cushion, emotional respite, joy and happiness.
If only for the few moments our focus moves to what matters to our hearts and souls — what pure pleasure. Confucius, Aristotle, Plato — they all agreed, hundreds of miles and years apart, that music was a mandatory part of a civilized culture.
Today, it is a part of our culture, a part of our economy, and a part of how we heal from the stress of daily living.
This week, my husband, Dallas, who is a saxophone and flute player, and I, a harpist, performed with Frank Sinatra, Jr. as part of his orchestra. The arrangements were those of Frank Sinatra, Sr., with whom I performed in 1983 for his last performance in South Lake Tahoe (Harrah’s).
The music of Sinatra represents an entire generation and the generations that have followed. The songs from the 1940’s and 1950’s speak of love, of responsibility, of ideals and dreams.
And, high school jazz bands — now a point of pride for all high school music programs — go back to the earliest days of jazz and perform the same songs that Sinatra made famous, as well as the works of John Coltrane and the big bands.
My father loved Sinatra. He would talk about him the way many of us talk about Tony Bennett.
When I played with Sinatra Sr., my parents awaited calls from me to share, almost song by song, how it was to perform with their most beloved icon. When Sinatra died, my dad cried.
And, to this day, the Sinatra name remains the cornerstone of a time when America and the rest of the world were healing from two World Wars and the Great Depression.
I am so grateful to have experienced music of my dad’s generation as part of my own life and to live through the transition to a new generation of music, stories, and inspirations. Clearly, in our healing as a nation, music holds a unique power to soothe as it bears witness to the pain and suffering of wars, poverty, of personal and social loss.
So, when I think of what all of this has to do with hospitals, healthcare, and economic and social strife, I believe that music makes our stories sacred. It elevates us from the depths of silent suffering, and does allow us to move on, song by song.