“High Hopes” by Frank Sinatra

Although the concept of positivity thinking experienced a major boast in popularity during the early-21st century, it had actually been around much longer than that. And such is the belief system upon which Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes”, as its title implies, is based.

It centers primarily on two fictional characters, an ant and a ram, who set out to achieve impossible tasks considering the natural resources afforded to them. Yet, implicitly through sheer persistence, they eventually end up realizing these goals anyway. Or viewed alternatively, it was their belief that they can actually achieve those feats which ultimately empowered them to do so. That is because if they didn’t believe they could do it, then they never would have persisted in the first place.

And apparently the reason that the singer uses such cartoonish caricatures to get this point across is because, at least to some degree, “High Hopes” is a song aimed at kids. That’s why originally Frank Sinatra sang it alongside Eddie Hodges, who was a child actor at the time. That would also be why this song commonly features a children’s chorus. 

Additionally, such would likely be the reason why it concludes using an analogy based on a balloon. And what the narrator is saying in conclusion is something like problems having a tendency to eventually resolve themselves, just like a balloon will inevitably pop after some time.

All in all

So the piece is actually dual-themed in terms of giving advice on how to solve life’s challenges and problems. Concerning the form, it’s more like a consistent effort type of thing. And with the latter, the key is not to get too caught in disheartening issues in the first place. And what both of these have in common is that they require a significant degree of positivity thinking in order to practice, or what the singer himself may refer to as “high hopes”.

"High Hopes" Lyrics
Summary

In all, this song teaches us that in order to achieve remarkable success in life and overcome life’s challenges, we’ll need to cultivate the habit of thinking positively.

Facts about “High Hopes”

“High Hopes” is a song that has enjoyed a rich history, being covered by a number of big-name artists, with Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) actually being the first the lay down a rendition. And that occurred, via Capitol Records, on 8 May 1959. And a couple of years later it was featured on Sinatra’s compilation album, All the Way (1961).

This song was introduced to the world via a movie, A Hole in the Head, which came out during its year of release. In the film it was not only rendered by Sinatra but also two of his co-stars, Eleanor Parker (1922-2013) and most notably actor/singer Eddie Hodges. Eddie would have been around 12 years old at the time. That particular rendition was named Best Song at the 1960 Academy Awards.

Frank Sinatra’s solo version of the song, as included on All the Way, features a chorus sung by children. And it achieved its own notable success, breaking the top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100 and top 10 of the UK Singles Chart. 

Also the legendary John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) utilized this track as the theme song of his successful 1960 campaign for US President.  In fact there was a special version of the tune as recorded by Frank Sinatra, entitled “High Hopes” with Jack Kennedy, which featured modified lyrics in support of the politician. 

And whereas it was not released as a commercial single, it did make rounds on radio stations, in jukeboxes and what have you.

High Hopes

Sampling and Popular Covers of “High Hopes”

Other famous singers who have covered “High Hopes” include Sinatra’s homey Sammy Davis Jr. (1960) and the following:

  • Doris Day (1964)
  • Bing Crosby (1968)
  • Robbie Williams (2014)

Also interesting to note is that former Bad Boy rapper Craig Mack (1970-2018) sampled this song. He did so on a track he dropped in 2001 entitled “Wooden Horse”, which officially featured the late Frank Sinatra.

The following popular actors also lent their voices to a cover of “High Hopes” during the 2013 Academy Awards:

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper, 2012)
  • Seth McFarlene (Family Guy)
  • Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)

Some More Facts

This song has also enjoyed a regular utilization in American pop media, especially television shows, being featured on the likes of Family MattersMr. BelvedereLaverne and Shirley and The Simpsons. And it made appearances on quite a few full-lengths, such as the following:

  • A Goofy Movie (1995)
  • Antz (1998)
  • Rocky Balboa (2006)

The writers of this song, who like Sinatra passed away during the 1990s, were Sammy Cahn (1913-1993) and Jimmy Van Heusen (1913-1990). Sammy especially was a regular composer of tunes rendered by Sinatra. Moreover he and Van Heusen also penned a couple of other Ol’ Blue Eyes’ famous hits, “Love and Marriage” (1955) and “Come Fly with Me” (1958).

And the producer of “High Hopes” was Dave Cavanaugh (1919-1981).

Did Frank Sinatra win a Grammy with “High Hopes”?

No. He however, received a Grammy nomination for this song in the early 1960s. The said nomination was in the prestigious “Record of the Year“. The award eventually went to Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans”.

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