I’ve written about crooners before, but I wanted to expand on something. Is it just me, or do most of the crooners who have entertained us through the years just happen to be of Italian descent? I’m not basing this conclusion on any type of scientific evidence, but it’s just one of those things that sounds right…you know, like being convinced that all politicians are worthless.
<Actually, there is at least one source of information, a book called The Italian Crooners Bedside Companion, but I haven’t read it and only mention it for those of you who might be interested in further research. (And no, I don’t know if there’s a hidden meaning in the title.) In my case, I’ve already made up my mind that there are in fact a LOT of Italian crooners, and have moved on to trying to determine which of them should be designated the quintessential one — not an easy task.
For obvious reasons, I’m going to pass over lesser stars like Jerry Vale (Gennaro Luigi Vitaliano), Al Martino (Alfred Cini), and Vic Damone (Vito Rocco Farinola). No offense to their devoted fans, but those guys – as good as they were – didn’t reach the high levels of fame necessary for consideration.
Continuing on through the parade of changed names, we move to the next tier up, where we have stars such as Perry (Pierino) Como, Frankie Laine (Francesco Paolo LoVecchio), and Tony Bennett (Anthony Dominick Benedetto), who were all very successful but over time seemed to drift away from the music of their heritage.
I’m also going to bypass Sinatra, who might come to mind by virtue of his long, celebrated career, but who really transcended Italian croonerhood by reaching legendary status as a singer’s singer. Ditto Bobby Darin (Walden Robert Cassotto), who seems the least Italian of all. And in case you wondered, I’m also not considering modern singers, such as Andrea Bocelli, because we’re discussing retro things here…not that there’s anything wrong with Bocelli.
My choice would have to be Dean Martin (Dino Crocetti), who turned his mellow voice and suave style into a long and successful career, not only as a singer but also as a movie and TV star. (Not to mention his time spent as a member of a tremendously popular if short-lived comedy team.)
Although Dino generated a lot of his big hits from other genres he always knew that his fans appreciated his roots, and he reserved time for traditional Italian love songs. And when you listen to his smooth baritone on songs such as “An Evening In Roma”, it’s obvious that he’s the real thing…the quintessential Italian crooner.