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Friday, October 28, 2005

Simple fact

I love Tony Bennett.

Comments (6)

I enjoyed reading the biography you linked to. It's a reassuring note that class --and classics-- can and will survive.

Do you have his children's album, The Playground?
If not, you MUST get it...your kids will adore it, I'm sure!

What is the appeal of Tony Bennett?

I'm a huge fan of the standards. I have a vast collection of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Pat Boone, Vic Damone, Al Martino, Dean Martin, and the like. I like almost all of them. And yet, for some reason, Tony Bennet gets on my nerves. There's just something about his phrasing and delivery that rubs me the wrong way. I know that many people love him, and I wonder if there's something particular that a fan could articulate to explain the appeal.

Always on key. Strong pipes, even as he pushes 80. Always enthusiastic. Genuinely loves the material he performs. Intimately connected to history of the American standards. A guy whom they tried to throw away. A guy who knows who he is. Great taste. Well managed by his son. Humble. A survivor.

Compare it to Sinatra. I loved him, too, but after he left Capitol, he was rarely on key again. Some of the Reprise material is awful. You can hear him strain in recording after recording. He had the swagger right to the end, but the chops faded long before the career. Did he revere the songs he sang? Nah. It was all about everybody having to revere him.

You have some excellent points regarding Sinatra. I'm not as familiar with his career, having discovered him only relatively recently (in the past ten years), but I do recognize that his early material, from when he was a teen idol of sorts, is an order of magnitude better than his later stuff. After a certain point, he seems to just be going through the motions, as if it's all just a job for him. To paraphrase one old song, it's as if success made a failure of his home. Or something.

Again, I'm not familiar with the Tony Bennett story. Because I write, I generally pay more attention to song lyrics than to the music or to the performer. I'll have to give Bennett another chance. iTunes shows I have 27 of his songs, starting with 1951's "Because of You".

After thinking about it more last night, I decided that most of my complaints with Bennett are subjective: technically, he's fine, but there's something about the timbre of his voice, or his phrasing, or something that bothers me. (This is similar to my reaction to Barbra Streisand; except for isolated songs, I can't stand her because of her overwrough delivery. She slows the tempo of every song until it borders on glacial.)

I'll give Tony Bennett a second chance, and all because of this tiny little weblog entry.

Occasionally, Tony bets a little too cute. He'll chuckle or turn a phrase in a way that's just too sticky sweet. But it's only once in a while. Get some stuff off his "Perfectly Frank" album of '91 and '92 ( atribute to Sinatra). He was pushing 70 at that point. Listen to what the man can still do. I get chillls just writing about it.

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