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I have had the great fortune to see Mr. Bennett live in concert several times. My first concert was in Seattle in September, 2007 at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre and it was wonderful. Then there was a bit of a wait until his performance in my home city of Portland, Oregon in May, 2011. Both of these concerts I attended alone.
Next up, though, Mr. Bennett was scheduled again in Seattle at the Paramount Theatre in December, 2011. This time I invited my best friend and co-blogger, Lesley, to join me. I’ll let her tell her own story of her introduction to the music of Tony Bennett, but it was a wonderful evening.
And thus started The Year of Tony Bennett. We were surprised and happy to find that Mr. Bennett would be visiting the Spirit Mountain Casino in February, 2012 and off we were to that concert. We had such a great time that we decided that we would try really hard to see him one more time in 2012.
That opportunity soon presented himself with an outdoor concert in San Diego in September 2012: the week of my birthday. It was a no-brainer. Next it turns out that he’ll be at the Monterey Jazz Festival the night before. Why not? Jazz Festival tickets booked … a grand weekend of the MJF and the San Diego concert … what better way to celebrate my upcoming birthday?
The icing on this particular cake will be his appearance at Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival on Labor Day weekend. This time, we’re taking Lesley’s ten-year-old son who, by virtue of listening to Tony Bennett’s music in his mother’s car, is now a fan. This will be his first concert.
Not to mention my purchase of the Complete Collection, which I am exploring with awe and wonder and joy.
Here’s a short video about the Complete Collection. It’s available for purchase at www.tonybennett.com.
Thank you, Tony.
What I like most about The Good Life is that Mr. Bennett so openly shares with us the love of his family: his parents, aunts and uncles, siblings, and children. Both my parents grew up during the Great Depression (my father was born in the same month and year as Mr. Bennett), but his story of the poverty and sacrifices his family had to make is intense and touching. That said, it’s not a sentimental telling at all. It’s straightforward and he shares with us the full arc from sadness and tragedy to the love and support of his family.
Mr. Bennett was drafted into the Army soon after he turned 18; after basic training, he was sent to the front as one of many replacements in Patton’s army after the invasion on the march to Berlin. His description of the horrors of war is brutally honest; I feel the emotions of a sensitive young man thrown into the horrors of the front. We are used to hearing about the Greatest Generation; Mr. Bennett tells us the real story of brutality, racism, ugliness, and death.
Tony Bennett came out of World War II as a pacifist and has always spoken out against unnecessary wars.
Raised by his parents to respect all humans, regardless of race or ethnicity, he has throughout his entire life, been a constant voice in the civil rights battles of our country.
What really struck me was how hard and for how long he had to work to become the singer he knew he had to be. Living at home with his family, spending 20 cents a day to take the subway into the city and look for work is a lesson to anyone who has a dream. I suspect that many others would have given up on his dreams during those years. If you ever need a reminder about the importance of seeing something through, I suggest you read this book.
We come to love and respect his mother, who raised her family nearly alone after the death of her husband when Tony was a young boy of ten.
The Good Life gives us a look into the pressures of making it in the business of being a singer. The seven-shows-a-day grind at the Paramount Theater are described in great detail. We follow Mr. Bennett through his marriages and the birth of his children and the rise of rock-and-roll music and how the music business changed everything and ruined many careers.
And, of course, the amazing restart of his career that we today enjoy so much.
If you’re a fan of Mr. Bennett (and if you’re reading this blog, you must be), be sure to read The Good Life.
Bennett, Tony with Friedwald, Will. The Good Life. New York: Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, 1998.
Widely available and in print.
Amazon.com: paperback and for the Kindle
Barnes and Noble: paperback and for the Nook
Apple iBooks: for the iPad and iPhone
Welcome to the Year of Tony Bennett.
My best friend and I are ardent fans of Mr. Bennett, and with some luck and a lot of planning, we have had and are going to have several occasions to see Tony live in concert this year.
We’re also listening carefully to his work, thanks to the release of his wonderful complete collection.
This blog is our personal journey in the examination of the work of a great artist and musician whom we both admire.
Welcome to our journey.