These posts are about the songs that just barely failed to cross the key line of chart success, entering the Billboard Top 40. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 41.
in 1958, Frank Sinatra expertly divided him time between a booming film career and his ongoing legacy as a recording artist. Thanks to hits such High Society, Pal Joey, and Some Came Running, he was among the top grossing stars at the box office, keeping pace with the likes of Kim Novak and Gary Cooper. At the same time, Sinatra had rebounded from a mildly moribund stretch on the music charts, thanks in no small part to collaborations with Nelson Riddle and his orchestra made possible by a contract with Capitol Records, signed in 1953. With upstarts like Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers wresting control of the airwaves, Sinatra’s hits didn’t come with the same frequency as earlier, but he could be depended upon to snap out at least one Top 10 single per year. As recently as 1955, he’d topped the chart, with “Learnin’ the Blues.”
Sinatra was back in a recording studio in the Capitol Tower in September of 1958, Riddle and his players at the ready. They laid down a trio of songs that night, one of which, in a rarity, was co-written by Sinatra. (In a recording career that stretched for more than fifty years, Sinatra was credited as songwriter on fifteen occasions, according to the ASCAP database.) “Mr. Success” featured music by Edwin Greines and lyrics Sinatra knocked out with his manager Hank Sanicola. As might be expected, the words aren’t exactly high poetry (“When I walk through a jam, no one knows who I am/ Put your head on my chest, and I am Mr. Success”), but they suited the cocktail-and-fedora casual swagger of the man singing them.
“Mr. Success” didn’t really live up to its title, though. The single stalled out at #41 on the Bilboard chart. In fact, Sinatra wouldn’t get as high as the Top 10 again for several years, and not until he had struck out on his own recording for the label he co-founded, Reprise Records.
Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Top 40 Smash Near Misses” tag.