Keeping Cool, Calm, and Coiffed with Nancy Sinatra

Sixties pop icon Nancy Sinatra advises on flattering make-overs, flattering musicians' egos, and the "Frank Story" she doesn't really want to hear.

Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nancy Sinatra had a major family name to live up to, but Frank Sinatra’s daughter made it big as a pop star in her own right. Her first super hit, 1966’s “These Boots Were Made for Walking,” with its accompanying promotional video of Sinatra and dancers in short dresses and tall boots, was a sensation and, while it remains her most iconic song, she has continued to produce music ever since. From her many collaborations with “Boots” songwriter and ‘psychedelic cowboy’ Lee Hazelwood, to her more recent recordings solo or with her rock band, and now her newest album, out this month, “Shifting Gears.”

Rico Gagliano: Nancy, welcome!

Nancy Sinatra: Thank you. So good to be here with you guys.

Rico Gagliano: Thanks for coming.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So Nancy, this is a more classic orchestrated sound than the rock and pop you’re known for. Why this shift in tone?

Nancy Sinatra: You know what, the tracks are recorded over time. Every time I had a huge show – by huge I mean 45-piece orchestra, 50-piece orchestra on stage – like at a big hotel in Las Vegas or somewhere, we would get these wonderful new charts written by people like Don Costa and Billy Strange, who was my guy. It made me realize, “Good grief, if we don’t put these on a tape someplace, we’re gonna lose them. We’ll never have them again.” So I decided to get the tracks recorded over the years as they occurred. It takes people into my show a little bit, you know, with the big orchestra.

Rico Gagliano: I have to say, this is a style I think most people would more associate with your father. Is this a style that you’ve always been comfortable with and just never really delved into, or is it maybe something that you’ve become more comfortable with as your career has progressed?

Shifting Gears. Album Cover art by: SHAGNancy Sinatra: Mostly, I’m happiest with my rock band. My band I call The Kick Ass Band and we’ve been on three-week tours on a bus. It’s just me and the guys which is never my favorite thing to do, but you know, we do stop in hotels once in a while and get a shower. But that’s the fun way to do it, because you can play for people who can’t afford to go to a big show room but can pay to go into a rock club. We’ve done that pretty much all over the world and it’s really fun.

Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, well you obviously know how to comport yourself, whether you’re in a large hotel in Las Vegas or in a small club, so this makes you perfect to answer our listeners’ etiquette questions. Are you ready?

Nancy Sinatra: Uh oh, I’ll try. I’m not the most well-behaved person on the planet.

Rico Gagliano: The name of your band isn’t exactly polite.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, you can tell them how to misbehave. You can take it anywhere you want. So this first question comes from Stephanie from Williamstown, New Jersey. Stephanie writes, “Is it okay to play a musician’s songs on the stereo when I invite them over for a party? Is that welcomed by the musician or not?”

Nancy Sinatra: Oh sure, you better believe it! I mean people record stuff to have it played and my friends love hearing their music in my house or wherever.

Rico Gagliano: Really? They’re not embarrassed?

Nancy Sinatra: No, most of them have great egos.

Brendan Francis Newnam: She lives in LA.

Nancy Sinatra: They’d probably be offended if I didn’t play them.

Brendan Francis Newnam: But surely people have done this to you. When you go visit somebody, do they sometimes put on “These Boots?”

Rico Gagliano: Doesn’t that put you on the spot a little?

Nancy Sinatra: No, I don’t care. Are you kidding? I’m flattered. They might play “Boots,” but probably not anything that I would like, anyway.

Rico Gagliano: What would you prefer?

Nancy Sinatra: My 2004 album, my “California Girl” album, you know, just other stuff other than “Boots.”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Well Stephanie, if you invite Nancy Sinatra and her Kickass Band to your house, play their music. Probably pick something new.

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, not “These Boots.”

Terra in Minneapolis writes the following, “Is there a tactful way to tell a friend her prettiness would shine through even more with a different hairstyle?” And this is perfect for you because you had the best and highest hair of the 1960’s basically.

Nancy Sinatra: Oh dear, tactful, probably not. I have had this happen in my life where a lot of people have criticized my hair, especially my sister, but I’ve had friends that I’ve wanted to help out, so what I’ve done is offered them instead of a birthday present, I’ve offered them an appointment with my hairdresser.

Rico Gagliano: Oh man, classic gift.

Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s what I want for Christmas, Rico. I want an appointment with Nancy’s hairdresser.

Nancy Sinatra: Well his name is Eric Serena, he’s in Los Angeles if you want to have a great haircut.

Rico Gagliano: There’s your recommendation. By the way, we have a follow up for this that is actually pretty good for those of us in radio. The question is from Holly in Los Angeles and she writes, “How does one sport the best-teased bouffant hairdo when one’s work depends on constantly putting on and removing headphones?”

Nancy Sinatra: That is the bane of my existence.

Rico Gagliano: And Brendan’s soon.

Nancy Sinatra: I tell you, if I have to go out somewhere after work, I will separate the front part of my hair, like across from ear to ear, across the back, I’ll push it forward and then I’ll put the headset on. And then I’ll throw the hair back over the headset so that it’s not squished.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Nice move!

Nancy Sinatra: The other thing I do is I’ll just take the band of the headphones, put it back behind your head, shove it all forward and you’ll look ridiculous but the hair is poufing out in front.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Well that’s what’s important; it’s how it looks afterwards.

Nancy Sinatra: Isn’t it? You bet.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So I thought only Robert Smith from The Cure did that with his hair, but there you go, Tara in Minneapolis and Holly in LA, we have a hairstylist recommendation and some headphone tricks.

This question is not related to hair. It comes from Kim in Chicago. Kim writes, “When talking to someone with a famous parent, is it appropriate to make a comment about being a fan of said parent, or is it best not to mention the famous parent?” Who could she be talking about?Nancy Sinatra - Photo by Amanda Erlinger

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, not mentioning any names.

Brendan Francis Newnam: It’s a hypothetical.

Nancy Sinatra: Well, in my case, I’ve heard every possible Frank story, so it’s probably better with me to just talk about the weather or something. But I’ll be polite, you know, I’m not gonna say “Never mind” and walk away.

Brendan Francis Newnam: But you’re his daughter. Do people forget that this is actually your dad and tell you stories that maybe are inappropriate?

Nancy Sinatra: No, not that kind of story, but I mean, “I met your dad in so and so New Jersey and saw his shows 18 times,” and I’ve heard all of that, which is okay. I mean, when you think about it, isn’t it very sweet? No, I don’t think it’s inappropriate.

Rico Gagliano: That’s very big of you I should say.

Brendan Francis Newnam: It’s not just her hair that’s big, Rico, it’s Nancy’s heart.

Nancy Sinatra: It’s her heart, I know.

Brendan Francis Newnam: That will be the name of your next album.

Rico Gagliano: “Big Hair, Big Hearts.”

Nancy Sinatra: You know what you should do? You should ask my daughters that question.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh, there you go.

Nancy Sinatra: Amanda and AJ, they may have a totally different answer for you.

Rico Gagliano: Yeah, I bet they’re as sick of “These Boots” as you are.

Nancy Sinatra: Yeah, probably… No, I’m never sick of it. Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t sing it anyway, I just start it, and the audience sings it.