Tony New Year (Television Thoughts: Tony Bennett Celebrates 90 – The Best Is Yet To Come)

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It’s New Year’s Eve, and hopes are high. Dance one year in, kiss one goodbye.

I almost always stay in on New Year’s Eve. As I get older, I crave more silence than noise, relaxation than stress. Everyone else can go to the clubs and scream the night away, and if you are into that kind of thing, great. But for me, I am happy waiting for midnight while watching Tony Bennett’s NBC special ‘Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet To Come,’ which was a special filmed in September at Radio City Music Hall. Bennett is not my absolute favorite among the crooners, but he is all we have left now from that era, and I just cherish him.

If only the special didn’t start with Lady Gaga. To this day, I still haven’t and probably will never get her appeal. I know her work with standards have been revered, but still…nada for me. I don’t hear anything original, and she just comes across as an unrefined clone in her ‘The Lady Is A Tramp’ opener.  Thank God the rest of the singers, they fared much much better for me – Michael Buble is always fine, and Kevin Spacey surprisingly effective. Rufus Wainwright was touching singing ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,’ (but I just can’t shake that his performance is more a tribute to Judy than Tony)  and I even really liked Bob Dylan’s rock angst filled ‘Once Upon A Time.’ Andrea Boccelli shoes a lot of limitations in his ‘Ave Maria,’ but I myself never consider his voice brilliant so no love lost for me there. And Diana Krall as bright red lipstick.  Just let’s not talk about Lady Gaga’s abrasive ‘La Vien En Rose,’ please please please.

At the end, when Bennett takes the stage, you can see the difference – the experience, the lyrical excellence , the ease of performing – it’s all there. his three songs, ‘The Best Is Yet to Come,’ How Do You Keep The Music Playing,’ and ‘I Left My Heart In San Francisco’ easily become the most memorable moments of the evening. There’s some shakiness in his vocals now, but for the most part it’s all still there.

Happy New Year!

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