The song of the day for Tuesday, September 17, 2019, is “Bewitched.”
Ralph Sharon, Tony Bennett’s long-term pianist and musical director, was born on September 17, 1923, in London. Sharon first started working with Tony Bennett in 1957 and, after a hiatus in the late 1960s and 1970s, rejoined Bennett, touring and recording until his retirement in 2001. Ralph Sharon passed away on March 31, 2015. Tony remembered him in his book Just Getting Started:
I’m still inspired and guided by what Ralph told me so many years ago, in so many words: keep growing, and believe in what you do. I lost a real brother when Ralph passed away in 2015. I hope to keep going for a while. But it’s nice to know that when my time comes, Ralph and I will accompany each other.
About This Song
“Bewitched,” which often goes by its “full” name “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” was written in 1940 by Richard Rodgers and Larry Hart for the Broadway musical Pal Joey. Notable recordings are by Benny Goodman, Mel Tormé, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra. Alec Wilder admired the lyric and the verse, but found the song “notey.” In spite of being notey, it’s a cornerstone of the American Songbook.
About This Version
Tony Bennett and Ralph Sharon recorded “Bewitched” on October 29, 1959. Bennett describes that day in Getting Started:
We booked time at the studio and pored through music books, trying one tune after another. The arrangements were spontaneous, and we finished each song in one or two takes. In one afternoon we laid down sixteen tunes—which must be some kind of record—twelve of which made is onto the album, which became 1961’s Tony Sings For Two. Mitch Miller showed up at the start of these sessions, furious that I was really going through with it. When he saw that there was no dissuading me, he turned to Frank Laico and said, “I’m leaving. I can’t support this.” Tony Sings For Two turned out to be one of my finest records ever.
Tony Sings For Two wasn’t released until 1961. It’s a remarkable album created by two remarkable artists.
“Bewitched,” as well as Tony Sings For Two, is available from iTunes.
As a postscript, I will also note the search term used by an anonymous reader who found information about this song on this blog by typing “bewiced bwildered”. Other related search terms include “how to play like Ralph Sharon” and my favorite of all “i just want to hear tony bennett and nobody else right now”.
I think if I were ever tempted to write an essay or book about my experience with The Year of Tony Bennett, I would have to name it I Just Want to Hear Tony Bennett and Nobdy Else Right Now.