No one can deny that Frank Sinatra and The Beatles redefined music, each in their own time. Although they were contemporaries in that decade that the Liverpool group lasted, their music, their background and their audience were very different. But there was a time when competed for several weeks to be the hit of the summer in the United States.
It was 1966. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were established as a global phenomenon, touring San Francisco, New York, and Tokyo; a dozen number one singles on the Billboard chart, and eight chart-topping albums in four years.
In addition, they were still the most popular of all despite their sonic transformation.
Sinatra was already an icon of the industry for a long time. At the age of 50, he was still singing live -in Las Vegas hotels- and selling a lively record of records, although far from the meteoric numbers of Beatlemania. Yes indeed, “La Voz” swept the Grammy Awards, prevailing in the most important categories over the British quartet.
At the age of 50, Frankie was able to indulge in fighting The Beatles’ hit of the summer.
Frankie was on a roll when on May 30, 1966, he released Strangers in the Night: his new work went platinum and became the fifth album to reach number one. The song of the same name was the title track and the first of the album that quickly climbed in the “Billboard Hot 100”.
The Beatles unveiled Paperback Writer the same day that Strangers… Within a few weeks it was already leading the rankings in Australia, Canada, Norway, Ireland and Sweden, among other countries. On June 25, it climbed to number one on the charts in the United States.
But a week later, Sinatra’s ballad snatched first place from Lennon and McCartney’s single – which would appear on the B-sided compilation album. Hey Jude-. Although the leadership did not last long, the stainless Frankie was able to give himself the pleasure of contesting the hit of the summer to the group of the moment.
A change of era
Many believe that that battle for number one was a pivotal moment in popular music history, opening a rift between epochs. The Beatles theme mixed folk and rock sounds with distorted guitar riffs and a leading bass; and it had a letter that moved between ingenuity and absurdity.
The Beatles released “Paperback Writer” on June 25, 1966, and it quickly topped the world rankings.
While the composition of the Croatian Ivo Robic, later adapted by the German Bert Kaempfert and popularized by the blue-eyed baritone, was already perceived as a sound typical of the easy listening (simple melodies “easy to listen to”), like a romantic ballad with a flavor of nostalgia.
Notably 1966 was a year of deepening cracks. In the United States there was a change of time, not only in culture and art. They were times of confrontation between rock and politics, between war and freedom of expression, between hippie communities and the establishment.
Paradoxically, The Beatles and Sinatra began to appreciate each other after that summer of ’66. McCartney would confess that he wrote When I’m Sixty Four, thinking he was “writing a song for Sinatra”.
Frankie would include Yesterday, by McCartney, on his 1969 album, My Way. That same year, The Beatles released Abbey Road, which included the beautiful Something. George Harrison’s theme would be described by Sinatra as “the best love song written in the last fifty years”.