Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Left My Heart...

In the Seventies, my mother and I went to the airport to pick up some family member or other who was flying in from somewhere. This was a time, boys and girls, when just anybody could walk right up to the gate and stand around without a boarding pass, a body search, or even a relative to meet. As we walked down the smooth corridor toward the arrival area, we noticed a man sitting on one of the waiting benches alone. He was quite nattily dressed in trousers, blue blazer, and a dapper tweed hat. We glanced at him, he smiled, we kept walking. About ten yards past, Mom and I turned to each other and almost simultaneously said, “That was Tony Bennett!”

Indeed it was.

Last night, I saw him again. This time, at a concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL. His 27th appearance at that venue.

The thing about this particular hall is that, although it comfortably seats over 2000 the atmosphere is intimate. During the hour-and-a-half set of standards and hits, I felt as if I were sitting in a rather elegant nightclub about as close to Mr. Bennett as I had been that night at the airport. His showmanship was a large part of that feeling. No doubt he was absolutely delighted to be there. He loves what he’s doing. It shows in every step, every strong note, every accolade to his four-piece band.

Although he’s well past his 80th birthday, there was no lack of energy, no lack of strength. For me, the highlight of the show was his version of “Fly Me to the Moon” completely free of microphones or any electronic amplification. The ol’ guy can still belt it out to the very last row.

Sure, everyone who goes to San Francisco leaves a little bit of the heart. But nobody does it with so much style as Mr. Bennett.

And how many times are you going to hear a story that begins with, “My best friend, Frank Sinatra...”

Thanks for a great night. Here's to many, many more.

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