About The Song

Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” is a quintessential pop standard, instantly recognizable by its swinging melody and the Chairman of the Board’s signature smooth vocals. But beneath the polished surface lies a song that explores the resilience of the human spirit in the face of life’s inevitable setbacks.

Background

  • Origins: “That’s Life” was written by songwriting duo Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon in 1963. The song was first recorded by Marion Montgomery that same year, but it failed to gain traction.
  • Sinatra Takes the Stage: Recognizing the song’s potential, Frank Sinatra decided to record it for his 1966 album of the same name, “That’s Life.” Sinatra’s interpretation, with its sophisticated arrangement and his world-weary delivery, transformed the song into a massive hit.
  • Chart Success: “That’s Life” reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became Sinatra’s biggest hit in years. It also won the Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance in 1967, solidifying its place in the pop culture landscape.

Musical Style

  • Swinging Sophistication: “That’s Life” is a prime example of the swinging pop style popular in the mid-1960s. The song features a bright and bouncy tempo driven by a tight rhythm section with piano, bass, and drums.
  • Brass and Strings: Lush string arrangements add a touch of sophistication, while the soaring brass section punctuates the melody with bursts of energy.
  • Sinatra’s Magic: Sinatra’s masterful phrasing and smooth delivery are the heart of the song. He imbues the lyrics with a world-weary wisdom, capturing the bittersweet acceptance of life’s uncertainties.
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Lyrics: A Celebration of Resilience

The lyrics of “That’s Life” are deceptively simple, using everyday language to paint a picture of life’s unpredictable nature.

  • Ups and Downs: The opening lines establish the central theme: “I can laugh until I cry / The same day, I can sit and sigh / I can be high as a kite / Right down in the dumps, without a fight.” The song acknowledges the constant push and pull of life’s experiences, from moments of joy to crushing disappointment.
  • Acceptance: The chorus, with its iconic refrain, “That’s life (that’s life) / That’s what all the people say / You’re riding high in April, shot down in May,” emphasizes the universality of these experiences. Everyone faces highs and lows, and it’s all part of the human condition.
  • Picking Yourself Up: Despite the challenges, the song doesn’t dwell on negativity. Lines like, “I know I’m gonna change their tune, when I’m back on top, back on top,” showcase the singer’s determination to overcome adversity. The song celebrates resilience, the ability to bounce back from setbacks and keep moving forward.

Cultural Impact

“That’s Life” transcended its status as a pop hit and became a cultural touchstone.

  • Film and Television: The song has been featured in countless films and television shows, from classic movies like “Ocean’s Eleven” to modern comedies like “Friends.” Its use adds a layer of bittersweet reflection to a scene or underscores the cyclical nature of life’s events.
  • Sporting Events: The song is also a staple at sporting events, particularly during moments of defeat or disappointment. It serves as a reminder that setbacks are inevitable, but they don’t have to define you.
  • A Timeless Message: The enduring popularity of “That’s Life” lies in its message of resilience. The song speaks to anyone who has ever faced challenges and come out stronger on the other side.
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Conclusion

Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” is more than just a catchy pop tune. It’s a timeless anthem that celebrates the human spirit and its ability to weather life’s storms. With its swinging melody, relatable lyrics, and Sinatra’s iconic performance, the song continues to resonate with listeners across generations, offering a comforting reminder that life’s ups and downs are all part of the journey.

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Lyrics

🎵 Let’s sing along with the lyrics! 🎤

That’s life (that’s life), that’s what all the people say
You’re ridin’ high in April, shot down in May
But I know I’m gonna change that tune
When I’m back on top, back on top in June

I said that’s life (that’s life), and as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks stompin’ on a dream
But I don’t let it, let it get me down
’cause this fine old world, it keeps spinnin’ around

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing
Each time I find myself flat on my face
I pick myself up and get back in the race

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That’s life (that’s life), I tell you I can’t deny it
I thought of quitting, baby, but my heart just ain’t gonna buy it
And if I didn’t think it was worth one single try
I’d jump right on a big bird and then I’d fly

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing
Each time I find myself layin’ flat on my face
I just pick myself up and get back in the race

That’s life (that’s life), that’s life and I can’t deny it
Many times I thought of cuttin’ out but my heart won’t buy it
But if there’s nothin’ shakin’ come this here July
I’m gonna roll myself up in a big ball a-and die

My, my!

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