We planned to be listening to the new Bennett/Brubeck The White House Sessions Live 1962 today, but for once, Amazon is a day late.
What We’re Reading
The Kindle edition of They’re Playing Our Song: Conversations With America’s Classic Songwriters by Max Wilk. Originally published in 1973, Wilk interviewed many of the great American Songbook songwriters and their associates. On one hand, it’s light and breezy and fun, but on the other it’s a very special collection of memories about the men and women who wrote the songs we all love. My favorite bit so far is from the chapter on Oscar Hammerstein from a discussion about Show Boat and “Ol’ Man River:
A classic show-business story grew up about that same song. Mrs. Kern and Mrs. Hammerstein arrived at a party, and their hostess began to introduce them to her friends. “This is Mrs. Jerome Kern,” she announced. ” Her husband wrote ‘Ol’ Man River.'” “Not true,” said Mrs. Hammerstein promptly. “Mrs. Kern’s husband wrote dum-dum-dee-dah, dad um-dum-dee-dah. My husband wrote ‘Ol’ man river, dat ol’ man river!”
We are also reading, slowly and carefully, The Art Spirit by Robert Henri. In his latest book, Life is a Gift, Tony Bennett dedicated the book, in part, to The Art Spirit. It’s a book about painting, but it’s also a book about the nature of creativity and the commitment required to do something honestly and well. Absolutely fascinating. I read a review of this book by a painter who said “it’s the most important book ever written about painting and there isn’t a picture in it.”
What We’re Listening To
We are working on a new project, an interactive Tony Bennett discography. I knew what I wanted it to look like; now it’s down to the hard work of writing and designing. (If you wish, you can check out this work in progress at discography.bloggingtonybennett.com.) For the last day or so, I’ve been working on Bennett’s 1962 unreleased On The Glory Road, which was finally released as a part of the 2011 Complete Collection, and have been listening to this album a lot. On The Glory Road is really exquisite and well worth a listen. Fortunately, it is available on iTunes. Every song on this album is wonderful. There are some real treasures, such as “Revolvin’ Jones” and a memorable “A Foggy Day.”
I’m also listening to Pal Joey —Rodgers and Hart, it doesn’t get much better. And some early Count Basie swing from an album in my iPod called One O’Click Jump & Other Hits.
What Else Are We Up To
We’re getting pretty excited about see Tony Bennett in concert at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma, Washington on June 15. Needless to say, we can hardly wait.
Time to pick a song of the day!