The legendary master of the American songbook shares stories and lessons learned from a life in music.
As Bennett (The Good Life: The Autobiography of Tony Bennett, 1998) notes, Frank Sinatra called him "my favorite singer" on more than one occasion. The effect of this endorsement on Bennett’s career was, of course, enormous. From a generation of singers still inclined to refer to his work as "showbiz," Bennett's career has had a peerless longevity and has likely provided him with wisdom and anecdotes for two or three books of this nature. The stories are wide-ranging, calling on his relationships with the best-known jazz singers and musicians from the 20th century—stories of collaborations, disagreements and adventures. His passion for art, travel and learning also take the stage. Each chapter showcases what Bennett sees as the necessities for a successful life—e.g., respecting others, hard work, ignoring "trends," and focusing on what you know and love. Bennett is also willing to call bologna by its name when he sees it, and he decries what he calls the "flattening out" of the music industry and of the tendency to prioritize all aspects of the business aside from the quality of the music. Some of the "Zen" suggestions at the close of each chapter fall flat—e.g., there's nothing particularly useful in stating that the world will be a better place if everyone can learn to get along and appreciate each others' differences. There is, however, a great deal of wisdom in the suggestions when they stem directly from Bennett's own richly lived life.
Like Bennett's catalog of music—you may not fall in love with each individual story, but it's hard to argue with the way it's being told.