Before I continue with part six of my story about my first meeting with Frankie Laine, I would like to remark about the emotional Laine.
A Remarkable Singer’s Human Traits
I am a collector of Frankie Laine’s career works. My Laine Library includes not only memorabilia and audio, but video (including, of course, film) performances throughout the career of this great singer. One of the things I have noticed is that Frankie was not comfortable in front of a television or movie camera. I guess this is more evident among those who knew Frankie personally. Even when he appeared at ease, he really wasn’t. Eventually, age and experience tempered this uneasiness.
I believe this could be the result of just being a “normal” person during his formative years as opposed to becoming a star as a young adult. Frankie was in his early 30s when he became famous. Youngsters who become famous during their developmental years, tend, in my opinion, to become adapted to all the adulation, so this reverence becomes part of the mindset of these individuals. How can they feel uncomfortable? This reverence is expected!
In spite of this, Frankie did become quite at ease in showing emotion. He had developed his personal mindset of life—having lived a relatively normal existence during his foundational years. Consequently, he knew both the ups and downs of life—especially while trying to become a known singer. Therefore, his ease at showing emotion was perfectly normal for him.
Frankie’s ease of expressing emotion helped him excel in his vocal delivery and song renditions. He would compel the listener to believe every word he sang. Unmistakably heard is the emotion in Frankie’s voice. This emotion is apparent in Frankie’s portrayal of every one of his song interpretations.
(Continued from February blog)
After the taping, Frankie drove me back to my hotel. During this time, I grabbed my cassette audio recorder from my briefcase and taped my first interview of Frankie. During the taping, while Frankie was driving, I asked him to talk about a couple of my favorite Laine albums. I also asked him what his favorite Laine recording was (“I Believe”).
I closed the interview by saying, “Well, thanks, Frankie. And thanks for your hospitality today. I’ll never forget it. I love ya.” Frankie then quipped in a fun-loving mood: “Well, I appreciate your comin’ down here. Anybody who’s crazy enough to ride a bus for forty-eight hours to come down and spend a day and a half has to be a little nuts, which I appreciate.”
The interview was still in full force when Frankie pulled his car into a parking space directly in front of the YMCA, where I’d stay yet another night. We sat in the car until the interview was finished.
After the interview, I packed my audio equipment into my briefcase, and Frankie opened the car trunk and lifted out my suitcases. He helped me carry them to the area in front of the YMCA steps. We put everything down and chatted a bit longer.
“Get a good night’s sleep, and call me in the morning just before you get on the bus,” Frankie caringly instructed.
I assured him I would and thanked him again for a wonderful day. “I’ll remember today for the rest of my life,” I told him. Again, I thanked him—without using the tape recorder—for his graciousness and hospitality. Above all, I thanked him for the loan of thirty dollars, sparing me from utter destitution. I repeated my vow to him that I’d pay him back (which I later did), and once more Frankie simply answered, “Don’t worry about it.”
I handed Frankie a caricature of him that I earlier had photocopied and asked him to write something about our time together. He used the roof of his car as a desk and wrote a note.
I still have that framed piece of paper in my collection.
After writing the note, Frankie began walking back toward where I was standing when the driver of a delivery van honked his horn at Frankie. He wanted to pull into Frankie’s parking space. With heated passion, Frankie spun around angrily, shook his fist at the driver, and vehemently bellowed a retort. Not wasting any time, the man in the van immediately roared something back. I watched the loud shouting match, but I couldn’t make out the heated words. Frankie, mumbling angrily, marched to his car, got in, slammed the door shut, and started the engine. As he was maneuvering his car out of the space, I noticed a sign posted—delivery parking only.
As the other driver pulled into the newly vacated parking space, Frankie was parking his car around the corner. Frankie, now fully composed, climbed out of his car. Once again, he ambled toward me—his astounded guest. It was time for us to part ways, and I bravely grabbed Frankie in an embrace and thanked him again for everything. He returned the hug.
With an emotional tone, I murmured, “Frankie, I hope our paths cross again.”
“Don’t worry. They will,” he answered without hesitation.
I picked up my suitcases, ambled my way into the YMCA, checked myself in, and walked to my room.
That evening in bed, I tried to read a book I had brought with me, but I became distracted by thoughts about my day with Frankie Laine. Frankie is very special. He reacts emotionally to his surroundings. It’s no wonder his song interpretations are classics.
During the seven hours I spent with Frankie, I observed a bevy of emotions from him. I saw him happy, jovial, serious, and angry. Plus, I witnessed him cry. Wow! What a great soul this wonderful man has!
Before long, I drifted off to sleep. I’d be willing to bet there was a smile on my face.
(Continued next month)