This week …

… we mark both the passing of Frank Sinatra who died 14 years ago Monday May 14 … and the arrival of Bobby Darin who was born on that same date in 1936.

As I mentioned in my weekend “Sinatra tribute repost” piece, I find the cosmically aligned coming-going date shared by Frank and Bobby to be interesting karma.

It’s not an “old guard/new guard” thing — though there was certainly an element of that tussle in their “relationship” (such as it was) … I think there’s more of a yin/yang element in play here.

The passing of one on the birth date of the other … the long lived mega success of Sinatra contrasting Bobby’s too short life and “rocket ride” career.

Frank’s cool, crooning swinger motif juxtaposed to the double-time, genre mashup that was Bobby Darin — on stage and in life.

Bobby lived his life with the throttle wide open … like a man that knew his time here was short (which was in fact the case) … he lived fast, sang fast, tried everything and rolled through just about every music genre this side of opera and celtic chants.

The Chameleon…

Some see BD as a guy that absorbed the styles, and to some degree the identities, of other performers rather than develop his own identity, and it is true that you can occasion strong reflections of Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Buddy Greco, Louis Prima and others in Darin’s vocal style.

But what I see and hear is a guy that may have borrowed but also utilized his own mixed genre notions to extend and take the material beyond where others had gone … some great extensions and some not so great but Bobby ultimately did carve out his own style in my opinion. Darin knew life was short, and he didn’t have time for the style conventions held by others … I get the sense that he wanted to do it his way and fit as much stuff in as he could before his heart gave out.

Bobby Darin jammed a lot of live’n into his life and you can hear it when he performs.

Not a Darin deep-dive…

I’m not teeing up a full-on BD review just yet. We will definitely go up that “Lazy River” later this summer.

This week, I just find myself a little more contemplative than expected about the “comings and goings” of life as I think about the significance of May 14 for  Mr. Sinatra and Bobby Darin.

Though Bobby played the young turk — publicly challenging Sinatra — and there didn’t appear to be much of a relationship between the two of them in life, apparently the universe thought otherwise.

Bobby and Frank are forever cosmically aligned and I think this week needs to be as much about Bobby’s arrival as Frank’s departure.

My non-review review…

Really more recommendations than review … you knew I couldn’t wander off without tossing out some Bobby D favorites.

I’m a huge Bobby Darin fan (other than his folk stuff… never really got on well with that material) and I adore his signature numbers like “Mack The Knife”, “Lazy River”, “Beyond The Sea”, “Mame” … even “Splish Splash” and the loveably weird, tragic, up-beat toe tapper — “Artificial Flowers”. But for my recommendations here I’m going with two Billy May collaboration LPs that are both personal favorites and distinctive slices of the BD catalog.

Oh! Look At Me Now

This album title seems to perfectly capture Bobby Darin’s psyche — the guy lived most of his life screaming “Look at me now!”. That said, in many ways this album represents a bit of a divergence for BD … a somewhat calmer, more adult Pop music approach to the standards than he previously displayed. We’re not talking sedate by any means; Bobby’s style is in full view here.

Oh! Look At Me Now is also not a collection of esoteric songs. In addition to the title track, there are several hit numbers on this LP like “Blue Skies”, “I’m Beginning To See The Light”, “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square” … 12 tracks with Billy May’s fabulous arrangements and the incomparable May orchestra make for a great Bobby Darin standards experience.

Two Of A Kind…

Another Billy May collaboration LP, this time joined by Johnny Mercer. Two Of A Kind is a wildly fun album … a set list of duets mostly written by the amazingly prolific Mercer (the title track is actually co-written by Mercer and Darin) that plays off the strengths of all three of the creative powerhouse players May (arrangements and his great orchestra), Mercer and Darin.

Bobby and Johnny’s vocal styles meld perfectly and their interchange seems born of a genuine kinship — both musical and personal.

The song list is Johnny Mercer at his best and this LP finds both singers likewise in their prime, rendering excellent duet versions of all 12 songs (there are two versions of the title track “Two Of A Kind”) … standout numbers like “Bob White”, “If I Had My Druthers” and two all-time personal Mercer favorites for me — “Mississippi Mud” and “Who Takes Care Of The Caretaker’s Daughter” … just to name a few. This is great, great stuff.

Happy birthday Bobby.