296 - Tony Bennett

Em grande forma aos 85 anos, seus concertos têm sempre lotação esgotada. Em seu último CD de duetos, contracena com os maiores astros da música, de Andrea Bocelli a Lady Gaga, incluindo uma gravação de “Body and Soul”, oportunidade para ouvir novamente a voz de Amy Whinehouse. Na entrevista, Tony Bennet lembra dos tempos com Frank Sinatra, e considera a evolução de sua carreira muito positiva!
by Marcel Anders.

Legendary singer Tony Bennett (real name Anthony Benedetto) turned 85 last year. To mark the occasion, he released a new album: Duets 2. It follows on from 2006’s Duets: An American Classic, and features re-workings of famous songs with artists such as Lady Gaga, Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin and Andrea Bocelli. Bennett has certainly had an interesting career. He recorded hit songs like “Blue Velvet” in 1951, and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in 1962, but later spent many years {yootooltip title=[in the wilderness]} in the wilderness: isolado, sem trabalho {/yootooltip}. In the 1990s he enjoyed a major revival, however, when he found a new generation of fans. This was thanks in part to performances with his admirers, who included K.D. Lang and Elvis Costello. Tony Bennett talked about how his career began 60 years ago:


Tony Bennett
(Standard American/New York accent):

It was my mom’s birthday, and I said: “Mom, where would you want to go for your birthday?” And she said: “Well, {yootooltip title=[ I hear ]} I hear: eu ouvi, eu soube {/yootooltip} Ella Fitzgerald is singing at ‘Birdland,’ and that’s my favourite singer. So could we go see her?” And we went there, and she was wonderful. And she came to my table, and I’ll never forget this, because I was a new singer and I didn’t know too much about what was going to happen. I said: “Thank you for meeting my mother, this is her birthday.” Ella Fitzgerald said to me: “I love your recording of ‘Blue Velvet.’” I couldn’t believe it, the great Ella Fitzgerald liked one of my records! And I’ve never forgotten it as long as I live.

Bennett’s fellow Italian American Frank Sinatra was another big influence:

Tony Bennett
I was 10 years younger, but he was my master. He and Nat Cole and Ella Fitzgerald, and that era, to me it was like: “Wow, I’d like to be like that some day!” And then, {yootooltip title=[of all things]} of all things: inesperadamente {/yootooltip}, I was in London at the time and somebody called me from the States, and they said: “Wait till you see what Frank Sinatra said about you in Life magazine!” So I said: “What is it?” They said: “Get a copy and read it!” I read it, and I couldn’t believe it. He changed my life because he said: “In my opinion, Tony Bennett is the best singer I ever heard. He moves me, he excites me.” I couldn’t believe it! {yootooltip title=[And what he did, all of his fans said: “Let’s find out what Frank’s talking about”]} and what he did, all of his fans said: “Let’s find out what Frank’s talking about”: e foi assim que todos os seus fãs disseram: vamos ver o que Frank está dizendo {/yootooltip}. And from that day on {yootooltip title=[ I’ve been sold out all over the world ]} I’ve been sold out all over the world: tenho ingressos esgotados por todo o mundo {/yootooltip} wherever I play. He changed my life! And we were never really close, but yet there was {yootooltip title=[ a consistent fondness ]} a consistent fondness: um afeto constante {/yootooltip} that he had for me. A lot of times he did concerts at Carnegie Hall, they were recorded, and you hear him saying that “My favourite singer is Tony Bennett.” And he recorded “When Joanna Loved Me”, “and I’d like to sing it.” Even on stages he would mention me all the time. And, until the day he died, we became great friends, you know.

Duets 2 includes a duet with Amy Winehouse, who tragically died before the album was released. Bennett admits that he himself once had a drug problem:

Tony Bennett
I was {yootooltip title=[ a little hooked on drugs ]} a little hooked on drugs: era um pouco dependente de drogas {/yootooltip} when all the assassinations took place, with the Kennedys and Martin Luther King. And everybody got so disappointed in America that {yootooltip title=[the rage became drugs]} the rage became drugs: a revolta (das pessoas) levou ao consumo de drogas {/yootooltip}, you know, when everybody started taking drugs. So {yootooltip title=[I dipped into that a little]} I dipped into that a little: mergulhei nisso por um tempo {/yootooltip}. But I learned... Woody Allen’s manager, Jack Rollins, he said to me: “{yootooltip title=[ I used to handle ]} I used to handle: já fui empresário de... {/yootooltip} Lenny Bruce.” So I said: “Oh, Lenny Bruce”, I said, “what was he like?” He said: “What did you think of Lenny Bruce?” He said: “{yootooltip title=[He sinned against his talent]} he sinned against his talent: ele cometeu um pecado contra seu próprio talento {/yootooltip} .” {yootooltip title=[ That one sentence ]} that one sentence: aquela única frase {/yootooltip} changed my life: “He sinned against his talent.” I listened to that, and I stopped taking any kind of drugs. And it changed my life for the better. I now take care of myself normally and have a very sane life.

And, he says, his career is going really well:

Tony Bennett
I’ve never sold more records. It’s funny! I mean, I’m more popular now than I was when I was younger. So it’s very nice. What I’m really trying to prove, {yootooltip title=[if I get lucky enough to not run into any accident]} if I get lucky enough to not run into any accident: se eu tiver a sorte de não me envolver em nenhum acidente {/yootooltip}, and if I keep my health, I really want to prove that, if you take care of yourself naturally every day, that you can get better as you get older. I want to really try and prove, if I get lucky enough, to sing better at 90 than I did when I was 20.

And here are some more questions and answers from Tony Bennett’s interview with Marcel Anders.

Back in the early days, you played with some great names on New York’s 52nd Street...
The best: Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Erroll Garner, Stan Getz – they were all on that street. Billie Holiday was singing on that street, Count Basie, the best musicians in the world were in all these little clubs. Almost an imitation of New Orleans, but only right in the middle of Manhattan – on one little street.

And they allowed you in, even though you were a young white boy?
Yes. At 3 o’clock in the morning they would close the club. But they kept playing and they were playing till the morning. And we would come out at 11.30 in the morning and the sun would blind our eyes from being in the dark all night long listening to the great music!

You’re obviously proud of your Italian- American roots...
I love the fact that I’m an Italian American. But I don’t like the fact that they say, “You’re an Italian American?” – “Yes, I am.” – “Oh, you’re in the Mafia!” Right away. They don’t realise that all the other countries have an {yootooltip title=[underworld]} underworld: submundo {/yootooltip}. Every country has an underworld. An Italian American started the Bank of America. There are a lot of very brilliant Italians that built bridges and buildings and created such wonderful things in art!