Frank and the Original Neapolitan
Another reason Elvis Presley was selected as an influence by Frank, was "It's Now or Never" (a new pop song spun into English with new lyrics from the Italian "’O solo mio". (A Neapolitan song
written in 1898. Its lyrics were written by Giovanni Capurro
and the melody was composed by Eduardo di Capua
. There are other versions of "’O sole mio" but it is usually sung in the original Neapolitan language
, sez Wikipedia easily now but back then it involved a trip to the library, you see.)
And with a little digging in the music library, we'd know that for certain, but the research took longer as you'd have to walk or bike to the library. So music was a process of absorption, transmutation, and change, and something very hard to get appropriate credit for even if you wrote and composed the damn thing, somebody else could lift it legally and make all money that way.
And Frank even learned about something about contracts from me and my Dot record fan club guy, as this fellow would explain to me about how music contracts really worked, and how you'd have to keep going in the studio and putting out the records long after your popularity had faded as you were contractually obliged to, often ending up with you owing the company money at the end.
But when Frank asked, "What can you do really well?" that question ran the gamut ... because I knew a fellow who had learned over the course of many hiking trips and the early easy mornings while the water boiled on the campfire or when the moon went down and he was idling on a log, how to lace his 10" lumberjack boots, even tie a bow, with one hand! ... or "Can you bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?" ... or anything. Just something you felt you were good at. The best guitar run. The best shuffle drumming. The best sax solo. The best dance! The best joke!
Back in those days I would play six-string Ramirez guitar, and Herb Geller the jazz saxophonist had such amazing breath control and sensitivity, he could play a duo with me and not drown out what I was doing! So what you were good at sometimes ran an amazing course.
We'd borrow records and magazines and books back and forth, Frank would borrow my sister's "True Confessions" and the more lurid lower power publications ... and he would come by with some weird true tales magazines of explorers in jungles. And on and on. My copy of "Sketches in Spain" would go missing and there would be a copy of The Johnny Mathis Christmas album in its place. Or we'd stare at the Cal Tjader album cover with the bullfight crowd in a cartoon drawing until we found the guy who was throwing the finger. We had a lot of fun sometimes around music. But because I was always delving into history, I could come up with some interesting facts to toss into the conversation, "Say, I just read in Benito's biography that he said he lost his virginity at age 8 (or 9 or 10) with a prostitute high in the belltower of a church" and we'd laugh about that over our spaghetti dinner.