Frank Sinatra’s Lonely Hearts Club

17 Aug

Credit is often mistakenly given to the Beatles for having the first “concept” record. The truth is, over a decade before, they were beaten to the punch by none other than Frank Sinatra.

By the mid 1950s, Sinatra’s star was back on the rise. Considered a washed-up teen idol and unceremoniously dropped by Columbia records in the early part of the

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decade, his revenge was to sign to Capitol, and not only record two successful records, but to be nominated for an Academy award for his acting in The Man With the Golden Arm. Despite regaining his lost commercial success, his personal life was in shambles. His three year old marriage to actress Ava Gardner had completely fallen apart, and it was this event that spurred on the creation of In the Wee Small Hours.

Before In the Wee Small Hours, there was—for all intents and purposes—no such thing as an “album.” The 12-inch disc (an LP) had just been invented. Records were collections of previously released singles, or random collections of songs. Until Sinatra’s record, no one had yet released a collection of music, carefully chosen, designed to sustain a mood.

Inspired by his failing marriage, Sinatra and arranger Nelson Riddle picked songs, all based around a late-night feeling of loss, desolation and heartbreak. And Sinatra, displaying a newfound vocal confidence, was “the sole vocal artist capable of sustaining a single mood for sixteen songs, exploring every variation, every gradation.”

The result was a beautiful, melancholy record that changed the way people thought about recorded music. From the title to the artwork (famously copied by Tom Waits on The Heart of Saturday Night), this was something to listen to from start to finish, with the songs informing each other, and the feelings overcoming the listener, until you can almost smell the stale cigarette smoke and empty bottle of whiskey.

It was, in short, a concept album, and is still one of the best. –Tom


Will Friedwald. Sinatra: The Song Is You. Scribner, 1995. p. 238

Time is of the Essence

13 Aug

I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of internet viral videos and posts of people doing incredible things. It is endless. But before I tumble farther down,

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as I surely will, I’ll pause to share this cool little video. I love how it transforms an otherwise mundane cityscape and a thoughtless daily activity into something that is collectively unique and artistic. I don’t quite know how they did this but I’d prefer to think that hundreds of people were involved and that it took place in real time . . . -Anna

Back in the Lower 48

3 Aug

What a trip! We’re back in the lower 48 now, but Alaska was absolutely incredible. It was the first time any of us visited the grand 49th, and yet, somewhere between the high-energy crowds at Tap Root, the generosity and energy of our friend/guide/musical co-conspirator Tim Easton, the fresh local seafood, the musk oxen, and the beautiful countryside, the great state of Alaska made us feel at home.

Here’s a spread of final photos to soak in.

-Aaron &

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The View from TUS: Alaskan Photo Diary

28 Jul


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chronicled the TUS arrival into Alaska!


The View from TUS: Epic Metal

24 Jul

Tom and I have been deep into some serious metal lately. He played this album for me the other day – Dopesmoker by the band Sleep.

It’s one song that lasts over an hour. Truly epic—and you MUST listen to it in its entirety.