Seth MacFarlane, famed animator and voice of “Family Guy” patriarch Peter Griffin, sings Frank Sinatra? Unknown to many, MacFarlane is a crooner himself and has a couple albums to prove it. On “Sinatra 100: An All-Star Grammy Concert,” the man who created Stewie Griffin and “American Dad” breathed life into a couple of Sinatra’s songs, but really captured the style of Ol’ Blue Eyes with his rendition of “One For My Baby (and One More For The Road).”
As recapped by Radio.com December 6, the Grammy tribute “seemed like a TV event out of time,” a casual step back, hat tilted and jacket flung over the shoulder, to a time of soaring orchestral melodies and smooth vocal delivery. For both the uninitiated and the die-hard Frank Sinatra fan, Sunday night’s Grammy tribute, “Sinatra 100,” was a clear testament to the charisma, vocal stylings, and staying power of a man who embodied entertainment for six decades of the 20th century and can arguably be labeled the most important vocalist of that century. And none of the dozens of stars gathered in his honor at the tribute in Las Vegas did the famed crooner more justice than did the show’s host, Seth MacFarlane, who commanded the stage and sounded very much like the incomparable Frank Sinatra.
MacFarlane, as host, first stepped out after the opening numbers and toasted the crowd with Sinatra’s favorite toast, a glass of whiskey in hand. “May you live to be a hundred,” MacFarlane said, “and may the last voice you hear be mine.” And although Frank Sinatra himself only lived to be 82, as MacFarlane noted, his music still resonates, his songs influencing artists in every genre.
The show included performances by Adam Levine, Harry Connick Jr, Carrie Underwood, Tony Bennett, Zac Brown, John Legend, Usher, Alicia Keys, Celine Dion, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, and Lady Gaga in the finale with Sinatra’s immortal “New York, New York.” U2 added a performance from London of an original song they had written especially for Sinatra — and pitched to him once upon a time. Permeated throughout with audio and video clips of the man known as The Chairman of the Board, the audience was reminded of his showmanship, his fronting of great orchestras led by Count Basie and Nelson Riddle and Tommy Dorsey and Quincy Jones, and his famous friendship with his fellow Rat Pack members, especially Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.
But it was Seth MacFarlane’s vocals that stood out on the night. Yes, Harry Connick Jr, who stylized his early career on his idol, did a great rendition of “Luck Be A Lady” and Celine Dion truly captured a moment with her version of “All The Way,” but it was MacFarlane belting out “Bewitched” with such effortless smoothness that caught one’s attention. And when he sat across the bar, set the audience up with the line “It’s a quarter to three/ there’s no one in the place except you and me,” called on the “Joe” the bartender to set him up, and sang “One For My Baby (and One More From The Road),” he took everyone back a few decades and captured the essence of the great man himself.
The moody song encapsulates the musings of a man on the road, singing to make a living and thinking about a love interest. He just wants a sympathetic ear at the end of a long day. MacFarlane’s masterful performance, as Sinatra’s always did, invoked the universal understanding of the lonely traveler, the Everyman in us all that has been far from a loved one, one that just might have called off their affair, leaving one walking the streets of melancholy in the middle of the night.
“Sinatra 100” did much to capture the music and style of the man that was Frank Sinatra, a music legend whose albums still sell within the Billboard 200 albums chart and whose songs are recognized by everyone. The music for Sinatra’s songs for the night were taken from the original recordings, lending a musical authenticity to the tribute. Born December 12, 1915, it would have been Sinatra’s 100th birthday. The Grammy tribute left the crooner’s signature song, “My Way,” for last — and let Sinatra sing it as the show ended. Fitting that it should be the last voice the audience heard…