Frank Sinatra's Career Arc Foreshadowed U.S. Imperialism
Critic-at-large Stephen Holden profiles Tony Bennett on the eve of the singer's 80th birthday and finds broader meaning: "Careers that last as long and have been as distinguished as Mr. Bennett's have something to tell us about collective cultural experience over decades. It has been said that Sinatra's journey from skinny, starry-eyed 'Frankie,' strewing hearts and flowers, to the imperious, volatile Chairman of the Board roughly parallels an American loss of innocence. As Sinatra entered his noir period in the mid-1950's, his romantic faith gave way to a soul-searching existentialism that yielded the most psychologically complex popular music ever recorded. Following a similar arc, the country grew from a nation of hungry dreamers fleeing the Depression and fighting 'the good war' into an arrogant empire drunk on power and angry at the failure of the American dream to bring utopia."