The song of the day for Thursday, November 2, 2023, is “Because of You.”
We are celebrating the birthday of k.d. lang, who was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on November 2, 1961. In fact, k.d. lang is the reason I became such a devout Tony Bennett fan. I’d been a fan of hers since her album Angel with a Lariat, released in 1987. So, when she and Tony Bennett released What a Wonderful World in 2002, I couldn’t wait to go out and buy it. I’d always liked Tony Bennett (my parents wore out If I Ruled the World: Songs for the Jet Set when I was in junior high school), but this collaboration of k.d. and Tony was just perfect. So, thank you k.d. lang, for my musical education.
About This Song
“Because Of You” was written in 1940 by Arthur Hammerstein (Oscar Hammerstein II’s uncle) and Dudley Wilkinson.
About This Version
Tony Bennett originally recorded “Because of You” on April 4, 1951, featuring an arrangement by Percy Faith. In his autobiography The Good Life, Bennett wrote about this recording:
By the spring of 1951, I was told that if I didn’t get a hit soon I’d be dropped from the label. I went into Percy’s office and he said, “In this next session you really have to deliver. We have only three songs ready, so we need another song.” I remember that he looked through a bunch of sheet music on his desk, grabbed a song, and said, “Well let’s do this one.” That song was “Because of You. I was doing a lot of dramatic singing on my early records like “Sing You Sinners” and “Boulevard,” but Percy said to me, “Just relax. Use your natural voice and sing the song.” I took his advice.
“Because of You,” as well as Duets: An American Classic, is available on Apple Music.
k.d. lang spoke about Tony Bennett after his death on July 21, 2023:
I found out that Tony passed on the Friday morning. It was to be expected, of course, but as with a parent or an elderly friend, you can’t fathom that it is going to be an actuality. On Friday afternoon I got a call asking me to come to Los Angeles to record for CBS Sunday Morning. I hadn’t sung for three years. Of course I was going do it – it’s what he would have expected. But I was reluctant. I thought I should sing “What a Wonderful World” because I could pull it off easier. I put my foot down in true diva style. But when I got to LA, I heard that “Because of You” was the last song he sang, a couple of days before his passing, and that it was his first hit song. I realised: this is really important to his family. I quickly got my shit together and switched gears. It felt like it was an offering to Tony and his family.
Here’s that recording. k.d. lang’s proceeds from the recording benefit the Tony Bennett Legacy Fund.