By Vanessa Wolf
Too bad for the fictional “most interesting man in the world.”
Tony Bennett is not only real, he can croon.
Get an earful of the 87-year-old icon’s stylings next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. when he plays the MACC’s Castle Theater with his daughter Antonia Bennett .
As for the title of this article?
Look, we didn’t expect to fall.
“Tony Bennett? Didn’t he sing that song about leaving his heart in San Francisco? That tune puts the ‘old’ back in old school.”
Little did we know, not only did he fail to instruct us to “stay thirsty” – and thank you for that, Tony. Being thirsty is no fun. – but the man is as smooth (not to mention sweet) as they come.
Maui Now: You’ve been at this over 60 years, outlived almost all your peers and are still performing. What would you say is the secret to your longevity?
Tony Bennett: I exercise regularly and try to eat healthy as much as possible. My wife, Susan, always makes sure I have good, healthy food. Most of all, I think the most important thing is I try to stay positive everyday and avoid stress as I think stress has enormous negative impact on your mind and body. I truly think life is a gift, so I am happy to be alive every day and to be able to appreciate people and nature. I always try to learn something new each day.
MN: What’s one song you would love to sing/record, but never have? And why not?
TB: Wow. I actually don’t think there is one! I can tell you that one of my favorite songs to record is “But Beautiful,” which has wonderful lyric by Jimmy Van Heusen. If you don’t know it, you should check it out.
MN: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
TB: I grew up during the Depression in an Italian-American family, and my father passed away when I was very young. My mom was left as a widow with three children to raise on her own. Our family would come over every Sunday to help my mom and we would have a big meal and then afterwards they would form a circle around my brother, my sister and me and we would entertain them. My family gave me such support during those Sunday afternoons that it was then that I realized that I wanted to be a performer; that this was who I am.
MN: What’s your earliest musical memory?
TB: I remember the first record I ever bought was an Enrico Caruso recording.
We didn’t have a lot of money, and I knew that if you bought something it had to be of the highest quality and be something that everyone would enjoy. I still feel that way today: always look for quality as it will stand the test of time.
MN: Did you ever – or do you – have a nickname?
TB: When I was just starting out I had a terrible stage name Joe Bari – Bari is a city in Italy – and Bob Hope heard that and told me to change my name to Tony Bennett. He was right!
MN: What’s your favorite thing about coming to Maui and the Hawaiian islands?
TB: First, the people are so warm and welcoming and relaxed, so it is a true pleasure to perform in that atmosphere. As a painter, the beauty of the landscape is overwhelming as everywhere you turn this is something spectacular in nature that inspires me to paint. I love coming to the area.
MN: What is the most memorable thing your most eccentric fan has done?
TB: You know, I have very lovely, polite fans so I don’t think I have ever had anything unusual sent or said to me by a fan. I am very lucky in that respect.
MN: What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
TB: Not to stay on the stage too long.
MN: What’s something you absolutely have to have backstage when you perform?
TB: Butterflies in my stomach.
When I was just starting out, I had gotten involved with a summer replacement TV series, and I was nervous about how that was going to go. I came to see Frank Sinatra backstage at the Paramount Theatre, and he told me that being nervous is a good thing: it shows you care.
And if you care, then the audience will recognize it and they will root for you.
So I always welcome the ‘butterflies’ before I go on stage.
See what we’re talking about?
Any money he can speak French… in Russian.
See what else he has up his sleeve next Tuesday night at the MACC. Tickets are $55, $65, $85, $125, and $150.
Have an idea for a fun, funny or thought-provoking story or topic? Get in touch: we want to hear from you. – Vanessa (@mauinow.com)