GCSPrank Is Here

For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


He was a straight man with wit and style. A baritone with effortless delivery, he was probably better known for having a drink in his hand (often apple juice), being surrounded by pretty women and living life like it was one genteel party.

Dean Martin was never the crooner Bing Crosby was, but he outsold him for many years. He was never the actor his best friend Frank Sinatra was, but he was well-respected by actors for being natural. He was never as funny as Jerry Lewis, but then again, Jerry wasn’t as funny after he split from Dean.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was the first song I ever heard by Dean. Christmas in our house was the musical time of the year, so any voices heard then tended to stay with me year-round. We’d watch The Dean Martin Show, with his dancers, piano and couch, but that didn’t impress me as much as the fact that he knew Rudolph and Santa.

I bought a tape of Dean’s Greatest Hits and played it often. Unlike other singers, Dean could add an enormous amount of personality to lyrics, whisking you along through an Italian love song, a country tune or a broken heart.

The song that hooked me on playing him more often was “Houston,” a wistful-yet-plucky song that served as a soundtrack to the summer when Carol was an intern in that city. I gained a new appreciation for monster hits like “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime,” “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You,” “That’s Amore,” “Standing On The Corner,” “Memories Are Made of This” and “Volare.” Dean was often the catalyst that started my letters to Carol, but when she returned, I seldom heard his voice: when she was there, he wasn’t needed; when she left, he reminded me too much of her.

Years later I explored more of his songlist: “Sway,” “Return to Me,” “Innamorata,” “Angel Baby,” “On An Evening in Roma,” “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” and “I’ll Always Love You” also became favorites. I learned he had deliberately copied the easy-going style of The Mills Brothers, also one of my favorites. I discovered Dean knocked The Beatles off the #1 spot and he was the only artist to ever have 5 simultaneous albums on the Best-Selling List. My dad had all of them.

Dean was suave and debonair, a character who could make you smile with him as he ambled confidently through life. I am so sure I wasn’t alone in wanting to be like him.


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