Sunday, September 25, 2011


I was in Barnes & Noble Friday night. I picked up a copy of your new album “Duets An American Classic”. It was on sale for $9.99, a bargain, and I couldn’t resist buying it. I found out the album was coming out while reading “High Notes Tony Bennett in the studio with Lady Gaga in the New Yorker. You remember that article, right? Your pal Gay Talese wrote it.

Talese gave a blow by blow account of your studio experience with Lady Gaga doing take after take of “The Lady is a Tramp”. I’m a jazz man. I’m not familiar with Gaga’s music, but I understand she’s a hot commodity in the world of popular music.

Talese captured what went on in the studio that day, and I was anxious to hear the final outcome. I was disappointed the duet with Lady Gaga didn’t make the album. Talese is an idol of mine. Man, I wish I could write like him and had his sense of style.

Talese was credited as the pioneer of literary journalism. That’s not true. St. Clair McKelway was the pioneer. McKelway was a reporter, a managing editor, and a rewrite man for the New Yorker back in the ‘30’s when Talese was a kid.

Last year, the book publisher Bloomsbury put out “Reporting at Wit’s End Tales from the New Yorker”. The book is a collection of McKelway’s articles. What does all this McKelway stuff have to do with your new album? Nothing, I’ve been itching to share that bit of trivia with someone.

At any rate, Mr. Bennett “Duets An American Classic” is nearly perfect although the duet with Lady Gaga was left out.

The album feels like a big get together. And you asked all your favorite singers to participate. I bet you didn’t have to ask them twice. When the great Tony Bennett called the Dixie Chicks, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, John Legend, Sting, and Stevie Wonder—six of the big named singers that you collaborated with—came running like they were hit with subpoenas.

At 85, your voice is still in good shape.

Did I have any favorite tracks? Absolutely. I was totally into “The Best is Yet to Come” with Diana Krall, “For Once in my Life” with Stevie Wonder, and the “Very Thought of You” with Paul McCartney.

With this album, listeners get a ringside set at this star-studded get together. Honestly, Mr. Bennett, if of went at it allow, "Duets An American Classic" still would've been a thrill

As for Lady Gaga, my thinking is you were so blown away by her that you decided not to include her on “Duets An American Classic” because someday you want to do an album with her. That'll be an other American classic.
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