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The Great Anthony Dominick Benedetto

Like so many folks who had stellar careers and have been around forever, Tony Bennett’s early story is filled with familiar names:

The young singer was discovered by Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village and subsequently hired by Bob Hope in 1949. Hope advised him to take the name Tony Bennett (rather than the name he had been using, Joe Bari) and put him in his road show. Bennett told Billboard in 1997, “I’ve been on the road ever since.” He signed with Columbia Records in 1950 and started working with record producer Mitch Miller. His early hits included “Rags To Riches,” “Because of You,” and “Stranger in Paradise.” His most famous song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” was released in 1962 as a B-side on a single; it also earned Bennett his first Grammy award. (Continue Reading…)

Doing a post about Bennett without using I Left My Heart in San Francisco probably breaks some sort of law. It’s above. Bennett loves duets. An early and absolutely terrific one, with Andy Williams, is below. They sing “The Gypsy in Me,” “My Kind of Town (Chicago Is),” “San Francisco” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

A funny bit of banter: Williams hears the first notes of Bennett’s signature song and says, “I know where we’re going…up north by the big bridge.” Bennett’s reply: “Where all the residuals are.”

Bennett’s site is here.

(Home page photo: Tom Beetz)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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