Inspired by a music legend and the mother I never met, putting my vocal spin on an old standard

I’ve never seen Young At Heart, the 1954 movie Frank Sinatra starred in with Doris Day, but I’ve always liked the popular song he sang by the same name. And, of course, I’ve always loved Ol’ Blue Eyes (who doesn’t?!).

The song came out the previous year and was a huge hit, climbing to No. 2 on the charts. So the title of the movie Sinatra and Day were filming was changed to match the song, and it was added to the opening and closing credits.

Numerous other singers have performed it over the years, including Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Barry Manilow, Gloria Estefan, Michael Bublé — even Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson (I just listened to those last two online and they’re great!). It’s also been in other movie soundtracks. On the version Sinatra sang, the accompanying orchestra was conducted by the great Nelson Riddle, who worked with such legends as Clooney, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Mathis.

I haven’t done a ton of singing in my time — I’ve been more of a whistler (taught by my late Dad), which I’ve always prided myself on, and a hummer. I also played the clarinet in school band, starting 50 years ago this year at age 11 in seventh grade and through high school in Conroe, Texas (and I still have that clarinet!).

Then, when I was 47 in 2008 and we got my grandparents’ 1930s Haddorff upright piano from my father six years before he died, I started four years of piano lessons from our dear friend Alice Bishop at her longtime studio, Music Place Mansfield Conservatory. But I’ve played very little over the past 10 years, so I’m a wee bit out of practice. I’m starting to play again and hope to get back to where I was — and hopefully beyond.

But back to “Young At Heart” (the song, not the movie). After hearing it a couple of times recently on SiriusXM channels (including the appropriately named Siriusly Sinatra), I decided to try something: Record myself singing it, totally lame though I knew it would be when compared to one of the greatest male singers ever.

I looked online for the instrumental accompaniment of the Sinatra version. I had no trouble finding it on YouTube, and I’ve had the handy Recorder app on my phone for a while. I had to rehearse a few times to sync my voice with the orchestra, and even what I consider my best effort isn’t timed exactly right in spots.

The first day I recorded the song a few times earlier this week, I did it in the bathroom, which doesn’t exactly provide the best acoustics (unless you’re singing in the shower, right?). Truth be told, I didn’t want Kay or anyone else to hear what I was doing, so I opted to sing out of earshot. Even then, I wasn’t exactly letting loose for fear of someone hearing me. What I considered my best try that day was decent, but I knew I could do better.

So I tried again late this afternoon, when Kay took our youngest to work. This time, I did the recording in the bedroom, where I knew the acoustics would be a bit better. But we are talking about a phone, so it’s still not ideal. And we’re also talking about an untrained vocalist who, aside from singing the past few months with the choir at The Welcome Table Christian Church, hasn’t sung in an organized music group since elementary school at St. Matthew Lutheran in Houston.

But I love music and am realizing through choir how much I enjoy singing. And knowing what a gift my birth mother Betty had as a vocal performer — and how I’ve wanted to honor her by following in her note-steps — I’m just tinkering with some music and having fun with it. A couple of weeks ago in a blog post about Betty’s music, I included a link to me singing with a recording she made of “Blue Christmas” a couple of years before she died of lung cancer 30 years ago this month.

The link below is my attempt at “Young At Heart,” with apologies to Mr. Sinatra and all the other greats who have shown off their amazing pipes while performing this awesome song. As you can see, I’ve included the memorable original recording so you can hear what the song *should* sound like.

Thank you, Ol’ Blue Eyes — and Betty — for inspiring me to sing out loud and strong.

BTW, if you click on this link and, while it’s playing, it jumps to the end, just try again. I’ve noticed it does that sometimes. Thanks for listening! 😁💖

2 thoughts on “Inspired by a music legend and the mother I never met, putting my vocal spin on an old standard

    1. Hello, Jim, you’re too kind. Thanks for not only reading, but listening and offering such thoughtful words. When you enjoy music, it’s easy to have fun with it. Thank you again, my friend. Happy New Year to you and Lorrie.


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