Frank Sinatra’s “Witchcraft” Lyrics Meaning
“Witchcraft” is a very-interesting piece. First and foremost, as to be expected it is a love song. And the title alludes to the vocalist being smitten by the addressee. But the singer did not choose the word “witchcraft” to describe his feelings for the object of the narrative just for show.
Yes, he is connoting that she has him under some type of a spell. However there are a number of words that could have been used to convey that same idea. When you instead opt to use terminology as powerful as “witchcraft” to characterize the effect a romantic interest has on you, the implication is that there’s something sinister at hand. And that does in fact seem to be the case with this particular situation.
Or more specifically, using our adult minds as opposed to overstretching what’s being relayed, what it logically appears the vocalist is saying is that he’s being seduced, to some extent against his will. That notion most pointedly comes through in the chorus, where he states that what he and the addressee are going through is “strictly taboo”.
Ol’ Blue Eyes also lets it be known that despite his inhibitions, what ultimately does him in is the way the addressee ‘arouses the need in him’. And we’re not going to get into if Frank Sinatra was a womanizer or anything like that. But we are operating under the presumption that the word “arouse” pretty much means the same thing, regardless of the era it is being uttered in. And at the end of the day the vocalist is not afraid to admit that his, shall we say manly side always gets the best of him.
So that is the actual “witchcraft” the vocalist is speaking to. He’s in a physical relationship with someone which, from a moralistic perspective, he perceives as wrong. But ultimately she is so effective, as in he is so attracted to her that he gives into her seductions nonetheless.
So presuming this is a reflection of Frank Sinatra’s real life, even though he didn’t write the song, the interpretation would be that some of the women he bonked along the way seduced him as opposed to vice versa – which is very much credible considering the stature of his celebrity.
Who wrote “Witchcraft”?
This song was written by Carolyn Leigh (lyricist, 1926-1983) and Cy Coleman (composer, 1929-2004). And it originally came out as a single in 1957.
Frank Sinatra records “Witchcraft”
Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) actually recorded and released “Witchcraft” three different times. The first, as aforementioned, was as a standalone single. That is also the version that can be found on “All the Way”, a compilation album Ol’ Blue Eyes put out in 1961.
Then the second recording is found on an album he dropped in 1963 entitled “Sinatra’s Sinatra”. And finally, near the twilight of his career (and life) Frank released an album called “Duets” (1993) which, as its name implies, features him collaborating with other vocalists. And in regards to “Witchcraft”, he teamed up with classic soul singer Anita Baker.
Frank Sinatra was one of the greatest entertainers of his era, being proficient in both singing and acting. Indeed back in those days Hollywood was a bit more like Bollywood, and it was common for actors to be able to lay down a track or two (and vice versa). But he was definitely more of a singer than an actor.
And in terms of how successful he was, if you were to go to Wikipedia’s current listing of the best-selling music artists in history, with a career that dated back to 1935, Frank Sinatra is actually the oldest name on the list. Moreover he is all the way up in the second tier, having sold approximately 150,000,000 records.
So it’s not likely that he’ll be knocked off anytime soon. And in terms of record sales, Sinatra is in fact the most-successful artist whose career was relegated exclusively to the 20th century.
Accordingly Sinatra scored many a hit during his day, with “Witchcraft” being amongst them. For instance, it made it onto the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. And it was also nominated for Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the 1959 Grammy Awards, which by the way was the first year the Grammys were ever held. (Both of those awards went to a song by Domenico Modugno named “Nel Blue Dipinto di Blu (Volare)”).
Popular Covers of “Witchcrafts”
“Witchcraft” has also been covered by other mid-20th century musical greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee and the King himself, Elvis Presley, whose 1963 rendition was a mild hit.
The original “Witchcraft” was produced by Dave Cavanaugh (1919-1981), who served as both an A&R and producer at Capitol Records. And it was in fact Capitol that put this track out.