Why I like him so much...
Dino was supremo, the king of cool, calm, classy. Longtime readers know how much I love him and his music.
Of the members of the so-called Rat Pack, Dean is my favorite. Before you have a coronary, let me add a caveat.
Sinatra was superb. Nobody, and I mean nobody, resides in Francis Albert's league. He was a stylist, a singer's singer, The Voice, The Chairman of the Board. I own more Frank Sinatra records than any other performer, with the possible exception of Elvis.
But Dean is my favorite.
For one thing, he's funny. You can't help but laugh at the guy. His drunk routine (he usually was drinking apple juice) was classic. His ad-libbing one-liners were hilarious, delivered with pitch-perfect timing. Even his former comedic partner Jerry Lewis said Dino had the "it" that all superstars possess.
His relaxed, "I couldn't care less" attitude was inspired by his hero (and mine), Bing Crosby, updated for the '60s and '70s. There's a classic clip of the two of them together from Bing's 1970 TV show. Look at the admiration in Dean's eyes.
Oh, and don't miss this gem from Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show."
And you'll get a kick out of this. Yeah, I've tried to copy Dean's hair, his performance mannerisms when singing, even his laid-back persona when I speak before an audience. What can I say? Imitate the best!
I ordered the complete Dean Martin roasts, a collection of "The Dean Martin Show" -- both from Time-Life -- as well as the "Collected Cool" box set for my birthday. Best money I ever spent.
Maybe one of the secrets to it is that Dean, unlike, say, Frankie, seemed so accessible.
"I made myself part of the audience," he said. "I didn't act like I was doing them a favor on the stage. I've seen entertainers act like they were doing you a favor by singing for you, which is wrong. If you make 'em feel like they're a part of ya..., I don't know..."
And there's a serious side here, too. You know about my migraines. Won't rehash them here. But, when I get them, I can only listen to four singers: Bing Crosby, Karen Carpenter, John Denver and Dino. There's something about the timbre in each of their voices that doesn't further irritate my head.
One of my favorite things to do is put one of Dino's records on the turntable -- and they usually are records -- ease back with an ice pack, shut my eyes and dream of a day when pop culture wasn't pathetic.
So, I owe the boy quite a bit. He never fails to make me smile -- sometimes belly laugh -- and his music is pure magic.
Salud, Dino. I hope each of you has a Dean Martin in your own lives.
P.S. For the record, my favorite Dino song is his cover of Jim Reeves' "Welcome To My World" and my favorite album is "Dream With Dean." My favorite film is a tie between "Robin and the 7 Hoods" and the first Matt Helm movie.
Everybody loves somebody sometime
"And don't worry, Jeanne, I'll be home soon..."