All music and no talking: exactly the way Sinatra wanted it. For ol’ Blue Eyes’ 1977 television special, Sinatra wanted a purely musical experience. And that’s exactly what he achieved with ‘Sinatra and Friends.’
The special first aired on April 21, 1977, seeing release to home video three decades later in 2002. ‘Sinatra and Friends’ is an underrated treasure, and features stellar performances from Natalie Cole, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Loretta Lynn, and of course – John Denver.
Within, Sinatra brought his fellow icons onboard to perform duets of standards & classics. The catch, however, was that each be sung in different styles. From folk and disco to musical theatre stylings, ‘Sinatra and Friends’ had it all.
The television special opens with standard ‘Where and When,’ featuring Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Loretta Lynn, Leslie Uggams & Robert Merrill, and John Denver. Between each performance, no dialogue was spoken, a’la Sinatra’s master plan, IMDb cites. His roster of remarkable artists would, however, perform solo as well, but ‘Sinatra and Friends’ truly shines through its duets.
Such is the case for Frank Sinatra and John Denver’s timeless rendition of ‘September Song.’ Coming in as Track 14 of the evening, the dichotomy of these two wildly-different legends is on full display. Relive their iconic duet below through Sinatra & Denver’s 1977 performance on ‘Sinatra and Friends.
John Denver & Frank Sinatra: ‘September Song’ (1977)
Now considered an American standard, ‘September Song’ was composed by Kurt Weill, with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. The song was first part of Walter Huston’s 1938 Broadway Musical, ‘Knickerbocker Holiday,’ and has been a classic ever since.
Further solidifying it’s timeless nature was ‘September Song’s inclusion in the 1950 film ‘September Affair.’ In the years since, countless artists have covered the song. It could be argued, however, that none are as identified with the standard as ol’ Blue Eyes himself.
Frank Sinatra would first record ‘September’ in 1946 with Columbia Records, further catapulting the song into it’s “standard” status. It would remain a staple of Sinatra’s career, with the icon revisiting ‘September Song’ for a 1962 Capitol Records recording two decades later. Curiously, Sinatra would chose not to sing the song’ full into from either of these recordings. The first time he would sing the full track would be for Reprise in 1965.
As for John Denver, ‘Sinatra and Friends’ would be his only venture with ‘September Song’. And oh, are we glad it happened.