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RIP Tony Bennett

RIP Tony Bennett
July 21, 2023 09:04AM
The great, great, great Tony Bennett has died. RIP.

Re: RIP Tony Bennett
July 21, 2023 11:54AM
Rest in peace, sir. Such a long life, and so much fine music to your credit.
Re: RIP Tony Bennett
July 21, 2023 01:49PM
It's interesting how the 90s Irony Culture ended up unironically resurrecting several careers. The rediscoveries of Tony Bennett and Johnny Cash were initially largely accompanied by air quotes and smirks - I recall plenty of laughter when people heard U2 brought in Cash to sing "The Wanderer" and Rosanne Cash talked Johnny out of accepting the invitation to appear on Lollapalooza 94 because she was sure it was just an excuse to laugh at him, while the first sign of Bennett's re-ermergence was via a cameo on The Simpsons.

But Cash and Bennett took the opportunities given them by the smirking hipster embrace* and permanently resurrected their careers and became genuinely beloved again until the days they died and now their mythologies barely acknowledge that they were considered washed-up has-beens prior to their 90s revivals - which were made possible in part by hipster irony. Very ironic, don't you think? Like rain on your wedding day.

*I don't consider U2 or Rick Rubin to have been operating from that mindset. But I do suspect that a significant chunk of the audience stuffing the Viper Room to see Cash were there more for shits & giggles than any actual appreciation for "I Still Miss Someone" etc.

Louis Prima and Perez Prado got lesser bumps due to being pre-deceased to the renewed interest in them and thus unable to leverage the hipster interest into permanent career resurrection, as it would've required physical resurrection to do so. But it did manage to give Brian Setzer a second career.
Re: RIP Tony Bennett
July 21, 2023 02:41PM
I am dismayed to hear that. Had no idea re Cash, as I came from a Cash-loving family. Was raised on the guy. So yeah, I know he was called a has-been (Christgau says as much in one of his reviews), but had no idea his return was initially greeted with smirks. I always thought he was one of the coolest guys around, with his appearance on a U2 album just another of those dorks' lame attempts to give themselves (and their listeners) a pat on the back for making all the right cultural references. Like when they sang about Billie Holiday & MLK, covered Lou Reed, quoted from and dedicated a song to Charles Bukowski, recorded in Sun Studios, hired B.B King, all to little effect.

I also loved Bennett, and the rest of the crooners, but I can see how there would be a somewhat more ironic affection for him, as he was considered part of the swingin Vegas/Rat Pack era. Irony has its' uses: it's a way to look at something from more than one angle, instead of boiling things down to the black-or-white approach of classic criticism: you like it if it's "good," don't like it if it's "bad." It was probably gay camp culture that taught us that you can have genuine love and derive great meanings out of so-called "bad" art, and some "great" art can leave you utterly unmoved. Bennett of course wasn't bad, by any stretch - he always had more legit jazz cred than, say, Jack Jones (who I like! C'mon, who don't love that "Love Boat" theme, eh?) - but that '60s lounge era just seemed kinda cheesy in the cold, hard light of the '90s. It was like another world. But a world that, in some ways, seemed preferable to our own. So I get what you're saying Brad about how there may have been ironic affection that eventually became more genuine, once people actually heard the guy and those classic songs, and realized how good it all was. (Oh, and your Alanis joke noted and appreciated!)
Re: RIP Tony Bennett
July 21, 2023 02:41PM
Breno I think you’re right on this. Lady Gaga probably has genuine appreciation for this guys talent, not just doing it to be ‘cute and cool’.

And as for those who were giggley gawkers, I’ve learned something as I’ve aged. I may not be smarter than the whippersnappers, but I feel I have become WISER. And that wisdom has often allowed me to be above the hipster fray.

I’ll bet Bennett was the same way, but even more so. ‘These kids are willing to come hear me sing, which I love to do? At my advanced age? Please let them keep coming no matter the reason! I’m loving this!!’
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