I was saddened to learn of the death of Tony Bennett, at the age of 96. Michelle and I were fortunate to have been able to see him perform twice, once with Lady Gaga. He performed very late into his life and continued to sound great, even after he was obviously struggling with cognitive challenges. It is somehow heartening to imagine that amidst the fog of cognitive decline that music allowed Tony Bennett to tap into his essence and come alive.
Bennett, of course, outlived David Bowie. On the occasion of Bowie’s death, Bennett expressed sadness and reflected on his own past trouble with drug abuse (I guess he speculated that Bowie’s death had something to do with drugs). They never worked together, however there are some tenuous connections.
I’m posting audio of Bennett and Gaga singing, “Nature Boy,” which Bowie also recorded for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack (click on the bolded song name to link to the page on this blog of Bowie’s version). Lady Gaga is also a link in that she admired both Bowie (whose face appears on her body as a tattoo) and Bennett, who she recorded and performed with. Lady Gaga is one of the current artists who has a legitimate claim to be an heir to both Bowie and Bennett, and she has managed to work both of their spirits into her own work, which I think will long hold up on its own.
I have my own, even more tenuous connection to Tony Bennett. He was an associate of my former boss, Governor Mario Cuomo and I saw Bennett at Governor Cuomo’s wake and funeral. I didn’t meet him, he we shared that connection.
I can’t say that at 96, Tony Bennett’s death is tragic, but it is sad. RIP.