The Ballad of Frankie and Bobby: Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra.


by Larry Fyffe


It’s not at all surprising that Bob Dylan relates to Frank Sinatra whose songs often contain the fragmented ruins of the Transcendental school of poetry along with those of the Romantic school.

Applying labels usually reserved for literature, one detects in the song lyrics sung by Frank Sinatra an all-pervading consciousness of light mixed with the dark subconsciousness of the individual:

I’m a fool to want you
I’m a fool to want you
To want a love that can’t be true
A love that’s there for others too
(Frank Sinatra -co-writer: A Fool To Want You)

And in the song below, a pall of darkness drapes the throne of love:

One more time at midnight, near the wall
Take off your makeup and your shawl
Won’t you descend from the throne from
where you sit
Let me feel your love one more time before
I abandon it
(Bob Dylan: Abandoned Love)

Apparently, lessons learned from earthly experience temper the heavenly idealism of youth:

I could have told you
She’d hurt you
She’d love you a while
Then desert you
If only you’d asked
I could have told you so
I could have saved you
Some crying
(Frank Sinatra – co-writer: I Could Have Told You)

Below, an individual’s tears distort the comforting light rays that shine down upon everyone:

Baby please stop crying
You know, I know, the sun will always shine
So baby, please stop crying
‘Cause it’s tearing up my mind
(Bob Dylan: Baby Stop Crying)

The spirit of vitality that shines through and manifests itself in organic Nature (represented by the Skylark) is addressed in the following song lyrics:

Skylark, have you anything to say to me
Won’t you tell me where my love can be?
Is there a meadow in the mist
Where someone’s waiting to be kissed?
Skylark, have you seen a valley green with spring
Where my heart can go a-journeying
Over the shadows and the rain
To a blossom-covered lane?
(Frank Sinatra – by Carmichael/Mercer: Skylark)

The above song is inspired by the images of ever-returning springtime in the following poem:

Sound of vernal showers
On the twinkling grass
Rain-awakened flowers
All that ever was
Joyous and clear and fresh
Thy music doth surpass
(Percy Shelley: To A Skylark)

The Romantic Transcendentalist poet Percy Shelley may be a favorite of Bob Dylan, but the mood of the song below is one of dark alienation:

Has anyone seen my love?
I don’t know
Has anybody seen my love?
You want to talk to me
Go ahead and talk
What ever you got to say to me
Won’t come as any shock
(Bob Dylan: Has Anybody Seen My Love)

Too much darkness is spread by the kneeling bloodhounds of institutionalized religion as far as Frank Sinatra is concerned:

For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
(Frank Sinatra – by Paul Anka et al: My Way)

Bobby agrees with Frankie, adding that sundrops of love aid in the healing of injuries received from the blows of darkened minds:

I love you pretty baby
You’re the only love I’ve ever known
Just as long as you stay with me
The whole world is my throne
Beyond here lies nothin’
That we can call our own
(Bob Dylan: Beyond Here Lies Nothing)

What else is on the site

1: Over 450 reviews of Dylan songs.  There is an index to these in alphabetical order on the home page, and an index to the songs in the order they were written in the Chronology Pages.

2: The Chronology.  We’ve taken all the songs we can find recordings of and put them in the order they were written (as far as possible) not in the order they appeared on albums.  The chronology is more or less complete and is now linked to all the reviews on the site.  We have also recently started to produce overviews of Dylan’s work year by year.     The index to the chronologies is here.

3: Bob Dylan’s themes.  We publish a wide range of articles about Bob Dylan and his compositions.  There is an index here.

4:   The Discussion Group    We now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

5:  Bob Dylan’s creativity.   We’re fascinated in taking the study of Dylan’s creative approach further.  The index is in Dylan’s Creativity.

6: You might also like: A classification of Bob Dylan’s songs and partial Index to Dylan’s Best Opening Lines

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews


One comment

  1. How many times have you heard someone say
    If I had his money, I’d do things my way
    Hmm, but little do they know
    Hmm, it’s so hard to find
    One man in ten, with a satisfied mind
    (Dylan: A Satisfied Mind)

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