Tony Bennett an old time singer with a hashtag #Tony90: Matt's Memo
May we all live a fraction of the life of 90 year old Tony Bennett. The joy still shines from his magnificent voice. The nation celebrated the musical career of the legend tonight while being entertained by a who's who list of performers. His touring partner Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Leslie Odom, Kevin Spacey and Paul McCartney were among those who honored Bennett with a song or two.
The first we heard Bennett on stage tonight was singing a duet with Billy Joel on Joel's own composition "New York State of Mind". It's a song they have shared before on stage. Joel carried the melody at first, but when Bennett entered it was distinctly him. His ear for interpretation and a voice that manages to reach a higher register than a listener would expect have helped him stand out for more than sixty years on the national stage.
Tony Bennett never claimed to be a song writer. But, he is an artist. Not only a musical artist, but a painter too. The same grace he shows with his voice also emanates from his arm, wrist and hand holding a brush.
Aside from the wonderful 90th birthday special on NBC tonight I have been listening to a fairly new release of Tony Bennet singing the music of Jerome Kern. He is accompanied by jazz piano player Bill Charlamb. It is a pleasure. The album includes "The Way You Look Tonight", "Silver Lining" and "Cheek to Cheek".
The digital world in which we live opens doors to collections from decades past. Spotify features a performance on the White House grounds in the 1960's. The fresh voice of Tony Bennett in his prime has remarkable energy and range that we still see elements of today. You can get lost in YouTube for the day by simply searching Tony Bennett. You can experience the songs with official videos or the audio uploaded with an old school album cover. It is all a treat.
The standards that Tony Bennett has kept rolling into what would typically be retirement years have reached new generations thanks to his work. The songs are too special to go away. There are younger singers carrying that torch and some younger listeners finding the love for a century of American music. But, tonight's #Tony90 broadcast was a great way to celebrate the man best known for "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and so many other wonderful singing performances.