Contact Kathryn at:

My Sinatra Tapes as a Tip

I’ve just been listening to some tapes I’ve had for a very long time. They are actually studio recordings of Frank Sinatra that I received as a tip back in 1990. What is specifically written on each cassette tape, (I have just three) is “Test Recording from Specialty Records Corporation, Analog, Account: Warner Bros, Sel #: 4-26340 Tape 1,2,3, Artist: Frank Sinatra and nothing under the title designation.

Not being a Sinatra fan, but familiar with his commonly recorded music, I must tell you that neither I nor Herman recognized much of the music he was singing on the tapes. In trying to rethink where and when I received these tapes though, I kept thinking it was New York, but Herman quickly reminded me that I was in California by 1990. And of course, that’s where Warner Brothers Studios is located.

It isn’t that I don’t like that style of music. In fact, I am a huge fan of Michael Feinstein who collects swing music of the 1930s and beyond. You may have seen a documentary of his collecting and performances on PBS recently called, “American Songbook.”

Of course, Feinstein is more of my era than Sinatra, and I have in fact seen him in concert when I was in Sarasota, Florida visiting Mom one winter when she was on vacation.

According to the PBS special, Feinstein still carries on a hectic concert schedule, with as many as 500 concerts in any one year. The fact that he makes time to search out and collect songs and tapes and videos of period music that might otherwise be destroyed says a lot about his love of big band, swing, jazz and Broadway music of the period.

But back to these Sinatra tapes; Herman and I played them on our stereo and they were such clear studio recordings that they didn’t really seem like cassettes at all. I would never part with these recordings, however, in researching some studio recordings of Sinatra’s on line I learned that they could be quite expensive for the right collector.

During my years as a waitress and bartender while pursuing my acting career, I was fortunate enough to get a lot of different and valuable tips from patrons. One such tip was from painter Peter Max and it was a portrait of myself that he made while I was waiting tables in New York City. I have written about this before, but it was a great tip which was made even greater when Peter visited Cleveland a couple of years ago and my mother met him with a copy of his portrait, wondering if he still remembered me. Sure enough, he did, and to demonstrate it, he drew another portrait of me from memory. The original one was from 1986 and the follow-up was done in 2006 and they hang together on my wall.

So, although I may not have gotten my name up in lights in those days, I did get some great tips and mementos such as the ones I just mentioned and which I still treasure today.

I wish I could give you the name of the Sinatra tapes donor, but I honestly can’t remember his name.  Thank you to my anonymous donor. I still have that great music all these years later and it still brings a smile to my face.

About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site