The Beatles Classic Sinatra Called 1 of the Greatest Love Songs Ever Written
By 1969, Frank Sinatra had done his best work as a singer and actor. His groundbreaking albums on Columbia, Capitol, and Reprise (his own label) had gone out at various points over the previous 25 years. And Sinatra’s incredible run as an actor wouldn’t continue into the ’70s.
However, Sinatra still had a lot left in the tank. Anyone who’s seen his 1974 MSG performance (part of his “comeback”) can attest to the crackling energy in the building that night. But at the same time, it was clear the Chairman of the Board was on the downswing of his career.
After all, the ’60s had belonged to The Beatles. By ’69, the Fab Four’s incredible run of No. 1 hits had made mincemeat of chart and sales records set by performers who’d come before. In 1970, Sinatra acknowledged the band’s greatness as songwriters by covering a tune from Abbey Road (1969).
That song, which was the only George Harrison track the Beatles ever released as a single, was “Something.” But Sinatra didn’t just sing it; he said it was “one of the best love songs” ever written.
Sinatra raved about ‘Something’ and frequently sang it in concert.
When you think about the singing career of Sinatra (who wasn’t a songwriter), it’s hard not to think of the Great American Songbook classics he crooned over the years.
Whether singing pieces by George Gershwin (“Someone to Watch Over Me”), Cole Porter (“I Get a Kick Out of You”), or Rodgers & Hart (“Lady Is a Tramp”), he took incredible songs and interpreted them with the best. So it’s saying a lot when Sinatra heaped praise upon George’s song.
In the clip from a live show above, Sinatra notes how he feels about “Something.” “It’s one of the best love songs I believe to be written in 50 or 100 years,” he says.
Sinatra wasn’t alone in thinking that, of course. John Lennon thought it was the best track on Abbey Road, while Paul McCartney considered it George’s finest work as a songwriter. Eventually, it would become the second-most-covered Beatles song after Paul’s “Yesterday.”
George wrote ‘Something’ with someone like Ray Charles in mind.
While most songwriters would be elated if Sinatra recorded one of their songs, George didn’t get excited. “At the time I wasn’t particularly thrilled that Frank Sinatra did ‘Something,'” he said in Anthology. “I wasn’t really into Frank – he was the generation before me.”
Still, looking back decades later, George acknowledged he was “more thrilled now” than he was in 1970. When he originally wrote the song, George had someone like Ray Charles singing it in his mind. Charles did record the song not long after Abbey Road was released.
Interestingly, the heavy-on-strings arrangement Charles used for the song probably didn’t fit what George had in mind, either. In Anthology, he mentioned the covers of “Something” that caught his attention. “I was more interested when Smokey Robinson did it and when James Brown did it.”
By the ’90s, George had come to take every cover as a salute, and he appreciated them all. “I’m very pleased now, whoever’s done it,” he said. “I realize that the sign of a good song is when it has lots of cover versions.” Considering how many people covered “Something,” that’s a good thing.