4. “You’re Getting To Be a Habit With Me” (click title to listen)
From Songs For Swingin’ Lovers! (Capitol, 1956)
If hipsters were more into Sinatra (and soon they will be, I promise you), Songs For Swingin’ Lovers! would be the eye-roll “Oh everyone picks that one” album that they use to dismiss your “obvious” musical preferences.
You know, like if “High Fidelity” had been set in the late 1950s, Jack Black would give John Cusack a lot of crap for picking that album as one of his favorite Sinatra records or for putting “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” on the store hi-fi.
It’s one of the touchstone albums for Sinatra, and I think it’s because this is where the refined, king-of-the-world vocal really cemented into place. There were hints that it was coming on the three Capitol albums released before this, but this album — from top to bottom — is just great tunes by a guy who absolutely knows he’s the boss and there’s no one who can touch him.
Think about that in the context of 1956 and the groundswell of rock and roll that’s happening. A whole new musical force is taking root and very soon is going to push this guy out of his “My world and you only live in it” bubble, but for the next six years at least, you’d never know it from listening to his records.
He never catered, never lost that swagger as he saw off Elvis, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and even the first hints of the Beatles. In his voice, you can just hear the subtext of “There is nobody who can do this better than me.”
I find it particularly audible in “You’re Getting To Be a Habit With Me.” The song had been around for about 24 years by the time Sinatra did it for this album. His idol Bing had done it, and it was an established tune. But Frank makes it completely his own.
It’s a trickier lyric and arrangement than it sounds. If you try to put it into simple 4/4 time and just play it as basically as you can, you lose the charm of it, because it’s wordy and you quickly find yourself tripping over the progression to properly get the words out. Frank’s phrasing is so precise that it almost works as another percussive part—never mind the fantastic melody he’s delivering.
Try dancing with someone to it. If you can stick to the bass and downbeat for the mere 2:20 the song lasts, it’s a feat, because I bet you at some point, your feet and/or hips start moving to the phrasing and the extra beats Frank drops all over the verses in his delivery.
It’s so good.
This post was authored by Paul Snyder.