I can hear it in my head.
I even let myself listen to parts of it from time to time.
But, I won't let myself listen to it in its entirety until the time is right — until I've earned it. Then again, I've probably earned it a few times over by now. But, I won't let myself listen to it until I've actually made it — until I've achieved something. Until I've achieved a certain degree of financial stability and/or professional progress.
I don't want to. I guess I'm sort of saving it, saving it for the day the words will mean something. Until the day the words will fit with what I'm feeling. Until the day the words have meaning, the day they mean something positive to me.
Frank Sinatra would've turned 100 years old this past Saturday. Thanks to an old boss from a decade-and-a-half-ago internship, I was introduced and given an appreciation for Sinatra — the artist and the man.
If you want a good book recommendation for a Sinatra fan on your holiday shopping list, or for someone who likes to treat people right, pick up Bill Zehme's "The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin.'" The book, an easy and enjoyable read, shows how Sinatra, perhaps the original man's man, music mogul, made sure to treat people right at every turn — taking care of his bartenders, doormen, waiters, etc., better than anyone.
Oh, the song that I won't let myself listen to, at least not yet: Sinatra's "My Way."
As the song says…
"Regrets, I've had a few… Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew / When I bit off more than I could chew… I've loved, I've laughed and cried / I've had my fill, my share of losing."
"I faced it all and I stood tall."
Though, there's still doubt, and I'm looking forward to the day I can play the entire song, and sing along — the day "I find it all so amusing."
In the song's final verse, Sinatra sings, "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."
For his part, Sinatra was the genuine article – one of a kind, shooting it to you straight, and staying true to himself. Which is why it's interesting, and/or worth noting, as Esquire Magazine did over the weekend, that almost exactly 69 years ago, on Dec. 7, 1946, five years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Frank Sinatra wrote a letter to the New Republic, offering his thoughts on politics and tolerance in his time.
As Sinatra saw it (and, you may want to pay attention because, as Esquire put it, these may be "the smartest sentences you'll read today"):
"There are only 14 more shopping days, just two more frantic Saturdays, till Christmas ... I happened to be on Fifth Avenue this morning, in one of the big department stores, as who wasn't? But, I looked at the faces of the people. It's hard to realize ... in this time of so-called peace ... people's faces look almost as they looked in 1929. Now, as then, the prices are high. People are kicking about them, but paying them. ... Now, as then, a party to whom considerable has happened in the past 17 years wonders what's going on, with the same ingrown, inexplicable fear he felt as a kid. Only as a kid it was obvious to me that the fear had to do with the insecurity of my future. Today the fear seems to have more to do with the insecurity of everybody's future.
"What little knowledge I've absorbed in the past 17 years has not come easy. But, the first thing I ever learned still seems to be the most important thing that ever got through to me. And that is that a bunch of kids bound together in the unfashionable fraternity of economic insecurity aren't going to mingle their discontents very successfully unless they mingle them with mutual respect. Mutual respect, whether it's on the slum level of one little kid for another or at the top of the ladder where it's one government for another, one race for another or one belief for another, is nothing but tolerance.
"If it's the only thing I ever learned, I'm grateful…It's so simple they wrote a popular song about it, "Love Thy Neighbor...
"We've made only small, suspicious progress toward international understanding while the world festers with racial and religious discontent, in most cases again fostered by interests that can hold control only by divisionism."
Fast forward these 69 years, to last week, when Donald Trump's most recent example of how ignorant he can be — specifically, and to clarify, his proposal to ban all Muslim immigration to the United States, and his accompanying commentary/questioning of the role and/or value of Muslim-American athletes as the same related to his buffoon-ed ballyhoo-isms — demonstrated just how little progress we've made, and/or how far we've regressed.
Another pair of all-time greats — two of the greatest athletes we've ever seen, two proud Muslim-Americans, and two of this country's, the world's, and certainly sports' most cherished treasures — offered insightful rebuttals in-line with what Sinatra was saying.
One of these all-time greats, if not The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, delivered a statement to NBC, stating proudly that, "I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernadino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so-called Islamic jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion. We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody. Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people's views on what Islam really is."
Similarly, a U.S. Department of State cultural ambassador, activist for Muslim rights in the U.S., NBA Hall of Famer, and the all-time leading scorer in NBA history, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said, in his column in Time that, "if violence can be an abstraction – and it can; that's what a threat is – the Trump campaign meets this definition. Thus, Trump is ISIS' greatest triumph: the perfect Manchurian candidate who, instead of offering specific and realistic policies, preys on the fears of the public, doing ISIS' job for them ... Trump's irresponsible, inflammatory rhetoric and deliberate propagation of misinformation have created a frightened and hostile atmosphere that could embolden people to violence. ... [Trump's supporters] are impervious to facts or truth because their [understandable] frustration and anger at partisan greed and incompetence have fatigued them out of critical thinking. ... The press immediately provided him with a list, as well as photos of Trump with prominent Muslim-American sports figures, including Shaquille O'Neal, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, and, yes, me. What makes his [Tweet] even more insidious is the suggestion that, even if there were no Muslim sports heroes, Muslims would somehow be lesser people, less worthy. This cruel and dim-witted thinking is not the stuff presidents are made of."
Despite the unseasonably warm, mid-60 degree weather we're enjoying, we're living in a dangerous climate. (Sorry, I had to.)
To honor the man's 100th birthday, and because, as Esquire noted, it may be one of the "smartest sentences you read today," I'm going to close this column with the same words Sinatra used to close his letter some 69 years ago.
On tolerance and mutual understanding, and enlightened leadership capable of fostering and engaging in discourse built on and interested in furthering the same, Sinatra said, "May we find it before another December 7 catches up with a world almost oblivious to the fact that only 18 days separate the anniversaries of peace on earth and war on earth."