Tony, Jimmy: singular singers

TONY BENNETT and Lady Gaga in 2015 on their “Cheek to Cheek” tour (Wikipedia)>

It’s been said that the music we grew up with is the sound track of our life.

The recent passings of Tony Bennett and Jimmy Buffett have given me a lot of cause for reflection, and a bit of sadness.

Bennett was the last of the truly great Italian-American singers. He was in the tradition of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Mario Lanza and others. From the Thirties through the Seventies, they were among the foremost male vocalists.

They also spilled over later into the rock and country venues with Bobby Darin, Frankie Valli and – don’t be fooled by the names – also Bruce Springsteen, Frankie Laine, Jim Croce and Frank Zappa.

What made Tony special was his ability to adapt to changing times. Almost right up until his death, he was doing duets with Madonna, Bono, Elvis Costello, Lady Gaga and Sting.

You can trace three generations – and more – of American music through his career, and it seems likely that there will never be another like him.

He may have left his heart in San Francisco, but he also left behind a fading tradition when he went to his reward.

His career overlapped somewhat with Buffett. I don’t sail, fly an airplane or smoke “Mother Nature,” but Jimmy’s laid-back, find-your-own path music resonated with me. He copied no one, defied all trends and fads and became a one-man art form and industry, creating restaurants, cruises, books and a dozen other spinoffs of his unique and slyly philosophical music.

There will be other great entertainers, but who will be as unique as they were?

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