Written by Staff Writer
Tony Bennett celebrated his 95th birthday over the weekend with a farewell concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Here are some of the highlights from what was the crooner’s only live performance of the year, held Saturday:
Hooked by a Woman:
At 98 years old, George Benson sounds both soulful and classic.
These Vegas singers are tackling the weird, not the grumpy:
BENSON | “Friends in Low Places”
“Part of what makes music incredible is the memory it brings back. So it’s been about 20 years since my last live performance,” said Bennett.
In memory of his late son Jamie:
“He didn’t want to be famous, he just wanted to get out there and sing,” Bennett said of his son, who died at 18 in an ATV accident.
“I didn’t really want to sing ‘Body and Soul,’ because I was worried about making you cry. And ‘Nature Boy’ — I was worried about making you cry.”
They wrote “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”:
“All right, I’ll sing it. Maybe when I retire from singing, maybe when I’m 95, I will sing that song again and then when I retire from singing, maybe my granddaughter will sing that song again and I’ll sing it. But I would like to get my hands on that song.”
Bennett’s alter ego Count Basie:
“I’m just honored, I really am, to be here tonight with, actually the star of the evening, who I call Count Basie — only one Basie — because I gave a little piece of me in my career to Basie in The Ed Sullivan Show in ’65. And so it’s very special to me.”
Bennett, who had his first hit in 1937, also paid tribute to his female fans.
“I can see from just being out here now, all of the support I’ve gotten from women — this is the only time I’ve been able to feel special. I thought I was always there, but you know what, I feel you tonight, oh how I miss you,” he said.
He cut a beautiful piano version of “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”:
“This one for the divas, the love ones. Singing this song with Lady Gaga, I just think, for our audience here, I have to sing for you tonight, first. But I’m singing it just for you. I mean it.”
The song is a collaboration with Lady Gaga, and his duet was part of a monthlong 50th anniversary celebration tour with her — the “Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga Duets: An American Classic” — which kicked off in Las Vegas earlier this month.
“The Lady was just perfect. Not a mistake on my part, she came out absolutely beautiful. And she’s very unique, she’s one of the greatest singers, not just in the American record business, but on a worldwide basis.”
“Bang Bang”/”Shine A Light”
Bennett, who has been a fixture on the Grammy Awards stage for six decades, closed the concert with his signature mashup with Lady Gaga.
“I’ve always had a wonderful career, and I’ve had a lot of incredible things happen to me, but it started with my wonderful friends here tonight, and they were there in many ways. Not just with their musical talents, but people have been just such wonderful people to me for so many years that I wanted to dedicate this last concert to them. I did have a special singing role, as I will in my life. I’ll be singing that song for them in my final performance, so I wanted to dedicate this concert to you.”
“From Here to Eternity”:
“I never thought, as I sang that song, it would go on and on. So I just love it, I love that song.”
“I left the heart of a 15-year-old boy, I left the heart of a 19-year-old girl, and I gave it away to her. And when you give it away, you never get the person back. So there’s that. What I’m trying to say is — you give up your heart to somebody in your life, you never get that person back. I tried so hard to get that person back, but it never happened.”