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All the Things You Are: The Life of Tony Bennett

A fascinating bio of the "not fascinating" vocal legend

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Toward the end of All the Things You Are, his entertaining and informative biography of Tony Bennett, author David Evanier quotes jazz critic John McDonough on the book’s subject. “Tony is just kind of a regular guy,” McDonough tells him. “There’s nothing that’s fascinating about him. If you went up to him, he’d probably be glad to shake your hand. You wouldn’t be intimidated, because there’s nothing there that’s really intimidating. There’s not a lot of mystery there with Tony Bennett. He’ a great singer, but he’s not a fascinating person.”

This begs two questions: First, why write a biography of a person who is not fascinating? And second, why title that book All the Things You Are when apparently there’s a lot more that Tony Bennett isn’t than is? Not to worry though: those questions are answered more easily than you might think, because it’s that utter un-fascinating-ness that makes Tony Bennett both a special artist and-as the life story told within repeatedly makes clear-a stand-up guy whose integrity has never taken a blow and who sincerely lives for his music (and, less heralded but no less important to him, his painting). All the Things You Are-its title taken from a song perhaps best known from Bennett’s 1962 Carnegie Hall live album-turns out to be the perfect title after all, because all of the things Tony Bennett is are right there for all the world to see.

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