March 5, 2017 § Leave a comment
Download Instrumental Whenever you sit down to arrange a song, you have to sort of channel the original artist and let your mind shift into the mood you want to create. For example, if you’re arranging a Jimmy Buffett tune, you might imagine yourself on a faraway beach with a steel drum band behind you. Or maybe you’re doing “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, in which case you would place yourself in a 70’s disco trying to fill the dance floor. Every song inspires a certain mood and the frame of mind of the arranger determines that mood.
For this Frank Sinatra classic, “That’s Life”, I put myself in a New Orleans speakeasy (there’s an old word I just love) around midnight and I’m on my fifth Hurricane. The stage lights go down and out walks the great Al Hirt – which is quite an accomplishment since he passed in 1999. But this is imagination for inspiration, so you’re allowed some leeway in the “alive or dead” department. The man picks up his trumpet and utters one word into the mic…”Sinatra”, before he brings the horn to his lips. And there you go… the arrangement writes itself now. You’ve already done the hard part.
I also stole an idea from Michael Buble (he’s still alive) for this piece. Toward the end, a terrific backup chorus takes this arrangement out by crooning “That’s Life” in a sultry gospel style that is pure genius. Forget the Sinatra version – try mine instead the next time you perform this one. Use your imagination…