1964 Frank Sinatra – Softly, As I Leave You
Composer Tony De Vita wrote the melody for a song named Piano (Italian for “softly”) and Giorgio Calabrese added Italian lyrics to the song. Singer Mino scored a hit with the song in Italy in 1960.
Hal Shaper translated the lyrics to English in 1961 and that version of the song was re-titled Softly, As I Leave You.
Matt Monro had a pair of top ten singles in the UK in 1960 and 1961. The second single, My Kind Of Girl, even reached #18 on the US Hot 100. His single version of Softly, As I Leave You topped the charts in the UK in 1962 but failed to even reach the Hot 100 in the US.
Frank Sinatra released hit records with ease through the forties and most of the fifties, but Witchcraft in 1957 became his last top ten single for nearly a decade. In 1962 and 1963, before the British Invasion even started, Frank failed to even reach the top forty on the Hot 100.
In 1964, he worked with arranger Ernie Freeman and producer Jimmy Bowen on the album Softly, As I Leave You. The album mostly comprised failed singles from the early sixties, but he also recorded a few new songs.
In 1948, Frank released a recording of the song Everybody Loves Somebody. His single was a typical recording for the time, with Frank singing a ballad backed up by an orchestra. His single only reached #25.
Dean Martin recorded a modern version of Everybody Loves Somebody and reached #1 on the Hot 100 in 1964. The new songs on Frank’s album attempted to reproduce the production of Dean’s single.
Ernie and Jimmy used a drum kit, backup singers, and keyboards on those three songs, but the changes were only moderately successful: the album’s title song stalled at #27 on the Hot 100.
Since it reached #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart, the single was at least a partial success: it was his first top ten single on that chart in over three years.
Frank wouldn’t reach as high as #27 on the Hot 100 again until the release of his chart-topping single Strangers In The Night in 1966. That song began a series of hits in the sixties that ended when My Way also peaked at #27 in 1969.
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