Tony Bennett is, as his wife Susan puts it, “a national treasure.” The legendary performer has performed duets with everyone from Amy Winehouse to Faith Hill, bringing his music to a brand new (and beyond appreciative) modern audience. It is his work with Lady Gaga though, that truly has broadened Bennett’s pop appeal, even after fifty plus years in the business. Their Grammy-winning 2015 album Cheek To Cheek (and subsequent tour) was a commercial and critical success, so much so, that second album was almost certain.
Tony Bennett announced today (via AARP Magazine) that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. While keeping the diagnosis initially quiet, Bennett and his devoted family had a decision to make. The second album with Lady Gaga will be released imminently (he and Gaga started recording the new LP at New York’s Electric Lady Studios only two years after his diagnosis.) Promotion for the album will be fast approaching, and the family was “eager for as many ears as possible to hear and enjoy what may very well be the last Tony Bennett record.” Today, the family broke their silence in a forthright and emotional profile in that AARP Magazine piece.
Poised for a spring release. the album was recorded in a series of spaced out studio sessions between 2018 and 2020. While there is no information on the tracks contained on the project right now, the album contains “lush gorgeous duets with both singers in superb voice.”
Perhaps the most gut-wrenching portion of the profile is also one of the quietest, yet speaks to much as to what Bennett means to Lady Gaga, but also to his legion of fans. The piece says “In raw documentary footage of the sessions, he speaks rarely, and when he does his words are halting; at times, he seems lost and bewildered. Gaga, clearly aware of his condition, keeps her utterances short and simple (as is recommended by experts in the disease when talking to Alzheimer’s patients). “You sound so good, Tony,” she tells him at one point. “Thanks,” is his one-word response. She says that she thinks “all the time” about their 2015 tour. Tony looks at her wordlessly. “Wasn’t that fun every night?” she prompts him. “Yeah,” he says, uncertainly. The pain and sadness in Gaga’s face is clear at such moments — but never more so than in an extraordinarily moving sequence in which Tony (a man she calls “an incredible mentor, and friend, and father figure”) sings a solo passage of a love song. Gaga looks on, from behind her mic, her smile breaking into a quiver, her eyes brimming, before she puts her hands over her face and sobs.”
‘But Beautiful’ indeed…