As I sit here, I wonder what more I can write about the great Frankie Laine. It seems I have written everything I know about him. I have included snippets from my book, Reaching for a Star, and my own personal recollections about the times I have spent with Frankie.
I have detailed my vast Frankie Laine collection and the trials associated with assembling it. I have written about his songs, movies, and his work on television. I have written about friends I have made through my Laine association.
After a long legislative session, which ended in May this year, and after my immediate post-session work in my career with the Iowa Legislative Services Agency on various projects, I seem to be stuck with writer’s block as I attempt to write my June blog.
So, I thought about what would make a great topic. I have so many treasured feelings when it comes to Frankie Laine, his music, and my times with him as a friend. Then I thought about all the times I’d chatted with Frankie in person. But, I realized that I’d covered most of that significant information in previous blogs. Perhaps it would be something different to write about the time I went to visit Frankie Laine and didn’t get to see him up close and personal.
The only time I didn’t get to meet with Frankie face to face, after traveling to San Diego to see him from my home in Iowa, was during his 90th birthday celebration. I spoke to him on the phone the day before his celebration from my hotel room, but he wasn’t feeling well enough to meet with me. Indeed, he was not feeling well the next day at his huge party at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego, either. Because of the huge crowd of well-wishers, not to mention the fact that Frankie didn’t stick around too long, I never had the chance to see him up close and personal again. My wife, Marlene, and I had a great time, nonetheless, chatting with fellow friends of Frankie Laine during the party. But I missed chatting with Frankie in person. I would never again have that chance.
I will always remember the way the Laine musical magic touched me throughout my life. Even now, I love listening to my library of Laine music. But it was when I was in my early teens when I first became thoroughly smitten.
I recall how much I loved first hearing his early recordings of what I refer to as “mystical.” Songs like “Black Lace” set an eerily romantic mode. This was an early Laine recording on Mercury Records that dates back to 1950. There were others that took me to a place of wonder when I heard them. This was so cool! His voice allowed this teen boy lose himself in dreams of passion and envy—all this from just a song and the way it was interpreted! Not only did Frankie have a great singing voice, but he truly possessed an amazing art. He could relate his passion to the listener. No wonder he was such a style setter!
For two weeks every summer during vacation from school, my siblings and I, along with our cousins, took turns staying with our paternal grandparents on their beautiful farm. The farm was a grain and livestock operation. When I was a young teen, and just discovering Frankie Laine’s recordings for myself, I would sing my favorite Laine songs during chores or other tasks on the farm. I loved staying with Grandpa and Grandma. They were the best! Singing my favorite songs and dreaming about what my life would become were coupled by my enjoyment of spending special summers on this farm.
Grandma and Grandpa had a large yard around the farmhouse. In fact, they were one of the first to own a riding lawn mower. I used to love mowing that lawn with the rider. Of course, this gave me a chance to sing—really bellow out, my favorite Laine songs. I specifically remember singing his cowboy songs during mowing times. I sang “City Boy,” “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky,” “Along the Navajo Trail,” and others at the top of my lungs. Grandma said, “I could hear you hollerin’ over the sound of the lawnmower, but I couldn’t make out the words!”
Memories such as these are special to me. I have so many that encompass my love of Frankie Laine’s music. They seem to be just as special to me as all of the aforementioned treasures that I’ve already written about.
So, with so many special memories, I think I will always have material for a Laine article.