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Podcast Review: ‘Disgraceland’ – Frankie Is the Reason…. That the President’s Dead

Disgraceland: The worst stories about your favorite artists that you can’t help but listen to.

Josephine Evenson

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As part of our ongoing Music Journalism Course, our music team was asked to choose, listen to and write a reaction to an episode of a music podcast. 

The sixteenth episode of the podcast Disgraceland titled ‘Frank Sinatra: Frankie Is The Reason…That The President Is Dead’, discusses a brief historic background of Frank Sinatra’s career. Not only did Sinatra make history as a singer, but his strong sense of hubris led to a historic disaster: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Host Jake Brennen discusses how Sinatra had his own sense of hubris as he was highly aware of his musical abilities along with the charismatic style and vibe he possessed. Ol’ Blue Eyes made women swoon and men want to own themselves. Even during his tough times, his high confidence kept his career strong. And if you believe this podcast, his murderous friends had his back by getting him what he wished.

I like how Brennen fills in on the history of Sinatra’s background with organized crime. The information he provides left me somewhat shocked that such a successful musician could let his talents get to his head so far that he believed to have the power to get anything he wanted — even if the hire of a mob came into play. Yet, I not too surprised that someone with a big ego can get in over their head. 

Sinatra made many friendships with celebrities and politicians, Brennen even discusses his close friendship with the Kennedys. Although I already knew of some connections Sinatra had with the Kennedys, I never realized that there was more to it than friendship.

The Kennedys asked Sinatra to help John F. Kennedy win the West Virginia presidential primary with a little help from his friends filling in their own votes. Sinatra agreed, thinking there would be no problem at all.

But knowing that the mob were involved, I felt that the Kennedys would have some price to pay in the end. But of course, their feeling of superiority got the mob to give them a dish served cold.

I chose this podcast because it explains and explores the dark side of many musicians’ lives outside their careers. Although they may be admired by millions of people, they are still average human beings with their own dark and twisted problems.

Hence the name of the podcast, Disgraceland, such murderous crimes and affiliations make them less admirable and eventually become a disgrace. Brennan gave more detail than I realized existed about Sinatra’s connections to organized crime, yet I still couldn’t help myself from craving more emotional background and how it influenced his music. 

I find the title of this pod amusing, as it appears to be a parody of Paul Simon’s, Graceland, one of my favorite albums. The album cover of Graceland has something lively, righteous and somewhat innocent, as opposed to Disgraceland and its logo of a zombified Elvis figure that gives off na disturbing, deadly, and not so innocent vibe.

But that vibe is what makes this podcast convincing. I could not help but wonder about the deadly and disgraceful things famous musicians I admire have gotten involved with. Disgraceland will certainly be on the case. 

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Josephine Evenson graduated from Western Washington University (WWU) with a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis, along with a Music Minor in 2014. She learned to play Clarinet and Tenor Saxophone and hopes to get back into playing those again one day.  She was involved with many extracurricular band activities in college, including Concert Band and Pep Band, known as the WWU Viking Band at Western. She dreams of writing and publishing her own book series in the near future. Josephine currently living in Spokane, Washington (her hometown).

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