A Standing Ovation of One
I was recently in New Jersey and whenever I travel, I try to look up or pay attention to some historical facts, something to understand about the area that I’m visiting. And I’m somewhere near Lambertville, New Jersey. Frank Sinatra is from the garden state New Jersey. I did a podcast, maybe a month or two ago about Sinatra, about his cuff links he gave away. A story I really love because it’s about if you can’t give something away, it owns you. And even if you don’t want to give it away, you have to admit that it owns you and I really reference that in my own mind often.
But there’s another story about Sinatra that I want to talk to you about. This is what I like about history is you find stuff when you just study and research, things I’ve never knew. I thought I would see something like this but there’s stories that are sometimes buried for years and they come out and this was one of them for me. Tom Drazen, who was a friend of his and said Sinatra is like a father to him want to be a pallbearer in Sinatra’s wedding and he tells the story.
Sinatra was 78 years old and everybody in the inner circle, including Drazen, were wondering when is Sinatra going to give it up. When is he gonna hang it up and retire? Because even though the crowds at that point love the music and they couldn’t get enough of him, he said Sinatra had a bunch of hit and miss night. He was no longer on the game like he used to be so the people that knew him best, not the fans were really wondering when it is going to end. And even the fans knew it because Drazen says that they were coming and like saying goodbye to Sinatra. Every city they went to was almost like a farewell tour without him announcing that.
One particular night in his tour, Sinatra was into his set, about three or four songs into it and Sinatra completely lost sight of where he was in the song. He didn’t know where to go. The orchestra was playing. They can’t tell that he doesn’t know yet. So, it is his moment with orchestras playing and Sinatra doesn’t know what to do and he is just saying “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.” And his whole inner circle at this point, thinking this is it. It’s over. He can’t recover from this and this is the end. So, the concern of is this really going to be the end and the orchestra starts to notice this. so, an instrument at the time, they start slowing it down, they start ending their music and little by little, they start bringing it down. There is about 20,000 people in here now and now the music coming down there is just silence. Sinatra still talking to the microphone and he is still apologizing and saying sorry. Drazen is at the side of the stage now and he is just waiting for Sinatra to come out the stage and he would say “Boss, come on, let’s go home. It’s been a great career.”
Here’s the moment that happened. He said that Sinatra had tears in his eyes. He can tell there’s nothing else he could do. And as he is about to lay his microphone down and this historic career is about to come to an end, some man in the top of the arena stands up and yells and says “It’s all right Frank, it’s all right we love you Frank.” And all by himself, he started to applaud then the next guy next to him start to applaud as well. Then two turn into hundred and a hundred turned to a thousand and before they knew it, the entire arena was cheering for Sinatra. And Sinatra goes to center stage and Drazen think this is where he’s going to say goodbye and everybody is just going crazy, ensuring that they don’t stop. Instead of putting the microphone down and ending his career, he went into the next number which is “Mack the Knife.” Drazen explained that he crushed that song. Every note he said, every nuance he hit it solid. He described like Sinatra was back in his prime and the crowd went crazy and they wouldn’t stop. They kept cheering. So, everything seems to be back in order, back in place. The place is going crazy and he is going to the next song and Sinatra stops. He looks up into the crowd and he looks at that guy. He points at him and he says “I love you too pal.” Sinatra finished out that night and he went on to play for two more years. He doesn’t know who this guy is and the guy doesn’t even know what impact he had. Because of that guy Sinatra’s career continued. Because of one person in the last row, he took the initiative to stand up and to applaud and support one of his idols at his lowest moment. It had such an impact on such a personality that he didn’t quit. Maybe that guy knows it maybe he doesn’t know it, but he single-handedly kept Frank Sinatra’s career going.
I love that story just because of the impact that anybody can have on anyone else. You would think being in the last row of the big arena, you have absolutely no impact on the event, let alone restore a career. This guy did it and it really just goes to show the power that each of us have on the people in our lives when their down. Because nearly 20,000 people didn’t do anything wrong but they sat there as spectators and they were watching the end of a remarkable career. But one guy decided to do something different. One guy decided not just to be an observer but to be a participant because he knew that this person was struggling, this hero of his was struggling and he might’ve even sensed that this was the end. But to have the courage or the have the heart to stand up and yell out like that really gives me chills and I wasn’t even there. He didn’t need a standing ovation of 20,000 people at that point, all he needed was a standing ovation of one. I think about that and I think who is it in my life that needs a standing ovation right now that’s hurting? Who is it in your life that also needs that? Because how many great careers, how many great families, great lives might be saved with just a little bit more support? So, I challenge you today to go find somebody that needs a standing ovation literally or figuratively, and go give it to him because somebody needs it today and I will talk to you tomorrow.