1001 Albums: In the Wee Small Hours



Artist: Frank Sinatra

Album: In the Wee Small Hours

Year: 1955

Length: 48:41

“In the wee small hours of the morning
While the whole wide world is fast asleep
You lie awake and think about the girl
And never, ever think of counting sheep”

And so it begins. I said goodbye to all the music on my ipod (about 4gb worth of Devo Music) and made way for the 50s playlist I set up for the 1001 albums listening challenge.

I was very eager to get started, looking forward to all the new music I was going to listen to. I knew Sinatra would be the first on the list and having never really listened to him before I got pretty excited to finally sit down and actually pay attention to him. what a great way to start too, one of the biggest singers of all time leading the way on this insane challenge, this will be the greatest! I put my earbuds in my ears and excitedly started the playlist.

And then it started…

This album is sad. It’s just so sad. Right from the beginning you feel the weight of sadness just leaking through the speakers. It won’t stay like this the whole way through, right? wrong.

Believe it or not, Sinatra decided to make this a concept album, a theme running through the entire thing (which is honestly surprising for an Album in the 50s, when most were just a collection of singles). I will say this though, I was definitely listening to it at an appropriate time, late at night, waiting for my bus to arrive. It may not have been the wee small hours of the morning but it definitely set the mood for me.

So where do I Start?

Honestly, I’d like to give Sinatra a big hug, this guy sounds like he went through some tough shit. If you’re not familiar with the album, the whole thing is basically him singing about how he’s coping with a pretty harsh break-up.

That’s it, the whole album…

now many might think this sounds like a bad thing, especially if you’re used to the incredibly cheesy break-up songs that 15 year olds love to play on repeat when their girlfriend/boyfriend of two weeks decides to call it quits, but it’s not.

There’s something very lovely about this album that, despite it’s sadness, carries through throughout and leaves you with a strange bitter sweet ending. He sings with such sincerity in his voice, you could swear he was going through a bad break-up of his own when he did this, but he does it in such a cool way that you never once feel like he’s bugging you with his petty relationship problems and I think that’s part of the beauty of this album: It’s relatable. The whole time I was listening to this I never felt Sinatra was bugging us with his own pain, saying “Look how sad I am, feel bad for me”, but instead was taking our hand and making us experience the journey with him. Most of the songs are lyrically pretty simplistic and never really delve into his own personal experience, and that’s what makes it so much more impactful, he leaves space for the listener to project themselves onto it. When he’s singing about the break-up, it’s not just him, it’s all of us.

I found myself relating to this album not because I shared his experience but because all of us (Ok most of us, because some of you either never had relationships, are asexual, only had one perfect relationship or are just a plain asshole who treats people like crap (so… 75% of us? is that accurate? I don’t know)) have been there. We (generalization) have all had that one break-up that affected us s bad, that probably still sits with us, where we thought everything was perfect and we just couldn’t understand why it ended. We felt so much love for this person and once they left, we couldn’t stop and it hurt. We (generalization) have all been there at one point and this album sums it up perfectly in a way that resonates with everyone.

He hits on every aspect of the break-up through every song, that listening to the album from start to finish is like listening to a story of this person coping with it:

From the initial moment leaving you unable to sleep, this girl or guy always on your mind.

Feeling down and blue, sadness over taking you.

Convincing yourself that you’re fine, you don’t need them to be happy.

Still thinking about them, their image and face stuck in your mind and dreams, unable to rid them from your thoughts.

Trying to get back, but they’re being nice and saying why can’t we just be friends?

Reminiscing about how great things were, the small moments that made it all worthwhile, thinking back to happy times.

These sad feelings plaguing you, trying to get rid of them, telling them to go away and leaving you confused as to how it even happened int he first place (how could it? everything seemed to be going so well?)

Hitting a high, feeling like you’ve passed it and are on top of the world and super happy only to change into pure sadness the next minute as your delusion leaves you and you face the reality of your feelings, feeling like you’ll just never be the same ever again and wondering how will your love be in the future after this.

You’d probably be lying if you said you never experienced many or all of these when going through that one bad break-up, I know I have, and maybe that’s why this resonated with me so much. I have that one girl who dumped me suddenly and I remember going through all these phases, every single one, in the aftermath, who would have thought that Sinatra captured those feelings so perfectly in 1955.

Forget about all those shitty emo break-up songs, we literally have the perfect break-up album right here. If it ever happens to you, just grab this album and listen to it, you don’t need anything else, and this was in 1955. where every generation feels like they’re always the first to experience something in some way, this album is proof that heartbreak is a universal feeling that’s nothing new and it’s honestly worth hearing Sinatra’s soft, cool voice singing about it than any emo band ever did.

man… so serious and only on the first album, I definitely did not expect myself to go so deep into it as I did and write this much, gonna put a lot of pressure on myself for future posts. I would like to promise that not all posts will be this serious, but i really can’t because I have no idea what’s in store for me next. But I am happy to say that I finally got the ball rolling and I’m happy that it was Sinatra that get the whole thing started.

It’s currently 12:48 am and I need to wake up early tomorrow, so I’ll end it here with absolutely no idea how…

Endings are tough, whether it’s the end of a relationship or the end of a post, it just seems to be the one thing that is difficulty in every way.

(I think I did it… oh well).


Photoshop of album cover done by Julian Branco


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