Canadian folk singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell wrote “Both Sides, Now” in 1967 and the song was recorded by Judy Collins that same year, becoming a huge hit and winning Collins her only Grammy Award. Mitchell put it on her 1969 album Clouds and the tune has become a signature song for both artists.
“Both Sides, Now” was quickly recognized as a masterpiece, and was covered by many artists since its success. The earlier recordings include Anne Murray, Pete Seeger, Bing Crosby, Neil Diamond, Leonard Nimoy, and in 1968 for his album Cycles, Ol’ Blue Eyes.
Pop music often seemed to restrict the incredible voice Sinatra possessed and some of the lyrics could appear a little, well, cheesy for a persona like Frank’s, but “Both Sides, Now” works for The Voice. The song’s message - highlighting the ups and downs of life - is very identifiable with Sinatra’s own life and this had to have appealed to him.
Frank’s version is mellow and even a little weathered, but that speaks perfectly for the career stage Sinatra was entering. As with any of his best songs, we can feel the emotion as he connects with the lyrics, at least once we’re past the line, “ice cream castles in the air.”
Singling out one of Frank’s songs to talk about is a lot of fun for me, it helps to appreciate the nuances individually instead of generically and learning about them aides me in connecting with him when I give my renditions of Sinatra’s hits.
My run at Harrah’s Reno continues as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sammy’s Showroom. I look forward to seeing you there!