Somethin’ Stupid (Frank & Nancy Sinatra)

Something stupid - thumb

In the mid-Fifties, Frank Sinatra said that he hated rock’n’roll and that it was made by ‘cretinous goons’. When he formed his own record label, Reprise, he soon realised that he needed some rock acts to balance the books and what’s more, his daughter, Nancy, and Dean Martin’s son, Dino, wanted to rock. Frank himself was swept along with the tide and ‘Everybody’s Twisting’, a 1962 hit, found him following the new dance sensation. The best, or worst, example of somethin’ stupid comes with ‘Mrs Robinson’ in 1969 where, for reasons best known to himself, he sings the praises of his favourite restaurant, Jilly’s. Talk about product placement.

Nancy Sinatra’s producer, Lee Hazlewood, found her a little-known beat-ballad, Somethin’ Stupid, which had been recorded by its writer, C. Carson Parks with his musical partner Gaile Foote. They released the song as Carson and Gaile on their album San Antonio Rose. Hazlewood wanted her to record it. Nancy thought it would work as a duet and showed it to her father. They recorded the song, but there were some doubts within the record company as to whether a father and daughter should be singing a love song. Frank Sinatra told them not to worry and the single, with Nancy getting top billing, topped the charts in both the UK and the US. The Sinatra expert, Will Friedwald, has written that “It may be the most un-Frankish performance Sinatra ever recorded, with the two Sinatras chanting away in bland folkish harmony.” The co-producer Jimmy Bowen said, “I do know that Frank was pleased with the results of Somethin’ Stupid.” Of course! It might win him teenage fans.

The popular Los Angeles session musicians that Hal Blaine dubbed The Wrecking Crew played on this track. Al Casey, who played guitar on this track, also played on the original version by Carson and Gaile. In the documentary The Wrecking Crew, Casey recalled that Frank Sinatra wanted the exact same guitar line he heard in the original. Glen Campbell, who was on lead guitar for the session, tried in vain but couldn’t please Sinatra. Finally, Casey told Campbell that he played the part Sinatra was asking for, so it was probably best if he did it again, which he did.

Frank & Nancy never made an album together, although the famous picture of them touching noses would have made a brilliant cover shot. Their only other duets are on light-hearted novelties and Christmas songs.

In 1995 Ali Campbell revived Somethin’ Stupid’, with his daughter, Kibibi, but despite considerable airplay, the Christmas single only reached number 30. Following her success in the film musical Moulin Rouge, Nicole Kidman sang Somethin’ Stupid with Robbie Williams in 2001 and the song returned to the top.

When Frank and Nancy topped the chart it was the first instance of a father-daughter collaboration at number one. The only other father-daughter duet, came in 2003 when Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne teamed up for the song Changes.

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