The Year of Tony Bennett closes out our live performances week with I Left My Heart in San Francisco, our song of the day for Saturday, January 26, 2013.
About I Left My Heart in San Francisco
This song was written 1954 by two somewhat homesick songwriters from San Francisco: George Cory and Douglass Cross.
Knowing that Ralph Sharon played with Tony Bennett, the songwriters gave a copy of the music to Mr. Sharon, who promptly put it in a drawer and forgot about it. Some time later, as he was packing for a tour with Mr. Bennett that would take them to San Francisco, he came across the song and put it in his suitcase, thinking that the locals in San Francisco might enjoy hearing it. After a performance at a nightclub in Hot Springs, Arkansas (a concert where underage saxophone player and future President Bill Clinton famously stood outside the club and watched the entire performance through the window), Bennett and Sharon found a piano in the bar at their hotel and started to work on the song. The first fan of the song was the bartender, who said “If you guys record that song, I’ll buy the first copy.” (Tony Bennett, The Good Life, page 164).
They sang the song at the Fairmont Hotel on opening night, at Mr. Bennett’s first appearance in San Francisco. Local representatives from Columbia Records heard the song at rehearsal and encouraged Bennett to record it.
About This Version
I absolutely love this version of what is now Tony Bennett’s most-requested song. Hearing it introduced at the Carnegie Hall concert as a new song is delightful. His first recording of the song was in January 1962 and release in February, with this concert in June of the same year. And, of course, Mr. Bennett won the Grammy for Best Male Solo Performance and the song won for Record of the Year. Pretty good for a song that was rescued from a drawer.
Readers know that I think Tony Bennett at Carnegie Hall is one the best live recordings ever released. This particular version of I Left My Heart in San Francisco is sweet, light and beautifully sung. And he sings the verse; one of the reasons I love Tony Bennett as a singer is that he so often sings the verse, when many singers never do.
I Left My Heart in San Francisco, as well as the full Carnegie Hall album, is available from iTunes.