Sinatra Sings The Beatles!

The story starts in 1970, when Frank Sinatra had a global hit with the Beatles’ song, Something.  Later that year, Max Goldstein, then chief A&R man at Sinatra’s old label Capitol Records, begged Frank to record a Beatles tribute album, going as far as to give him an undated cheque for three million dollars.   But Sinatra stated – unequivocally – he was not interested.

So it was a complete surprise to Goldstein when, out of the blue, Sinatra delivered a double album of twenty-eight tracks, recorded over nine days.   Max couldn’t wait to hear it.  His PA, Herb Weissman, recalls in his autobiography Inside Capitol: “Goldstein put on the tape, sat back in his leather armchair, lit a fresh cigar and closed his eyes.  The tape began. Goldstein’s face betrayed no emotion as Sinatra launched into Fixing a Hole, from Sergeant Pepper.   A strange choice, I thought, but I let it pass.   Next up, if my memory serves me well, was The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, with Sinatra multi-tracking his voice for the chanting choruses of ‘Hey, Bungalow Bill…’.  I thought I detected a fleeting look of bewilderment cross the face of Goldstein.  Certainly, he flinched visibly when Frank launched into Mean Mr. Mustard.   It was after the line ‘Keeps a ten-bob note up his nose…’ that Goldstein opened his eyes and looked straight at me.   I swear, he didn’t break eye contact for the rest of the tape.  When Sinatra got to A Day in the Life, sweat was pouring from Goldstein’s brow.  All I could see in his eyes was fear and confusion.   The man looked desperate.   The tape just seemed to go on and on in the same vein, without let up.  Personally, I thought Sinatra made a fair stab at Yellow Submarine, but Goldstein walked out of the office during the part where Sinatra was doing all the funny voices in the middle section of the song – the ‘full steam ahead’, and what have you.   He then shut the whole project down and for the rest of his life never referred to it again.”

I am one of three living people to have in my possession an acetate recording of Sinatra Sings The Beatles (which I do not let any of my wives even look at) and I hereby reproduce the track listing for the interest of Beatles and Sinatra scholars the world over:

Side One
Fixing a Hole
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
Mean Mr. Mustard
Doctor Robert
Come Together
Happiness Is a Warm Gun
A Day in the Life

Side Two
Baby, You’re a Rich Man
Wild Honey Pie
Rocky Raccoon
Glass Onion
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?

Side Three
Helter Skelter
Polythene Pam
Cry Baby Cry
Hey Bulldog
Dig a Pony

Side Four
Sexy Sadie
She Said She Said
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
Yellow Submarine
I Am the Walrus
Tomorrow Never Knows

Guy Bartlett Williamson

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