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tv   Piers Morgan Tonight  CNN  October 11, 2011 3:00am-4:00am EDT

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since theyold us saturday night the parents had returned, they met with them saturday night, and we presume sunday as well. we haven't heard any differently so far today. we tried to ask if the dynamics had changed, if there was an attorney in the room or anything like that, police wouldn't say. >> thank you very much. >> on that note, here's piers morgan. it doesn't get better than this. tony bennett, the singer, on stage where he belongs. tony, it's been a lifetime ambition of mine to be sitting at a piano and about to serenade the world as you sing to my piano playing. in the immortal words, take it away, tony bennett. tony's topping the charts again at the age of 85. tonight his duets with today's top stars ♪ that's why the lady is a tramp ♪ >> i love lady gaga. when i first met her on this record date, i was very impressed. all of the singers that i've ever heard, amy was the best
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one. as good as billie holiday, as good as ella fitzgerald even. >> his career highs and lows. >> i realized that i thought i was doing well with the drugs, and i really wasn't. >> tony bennett in his own words and music. this is "piers morgan tonight." ♪ tony, welcome. >> thank you very much. >> how are you? >> just fine, thank you. >> life good? >> couldn't be better. >> you can say that again. i mean, what an extraordinary life you've had. >> i know. >> do you ever stop to actually look back and think, good god? >> at my age, you do that. you go right back to the beginning, early family with a wonderful italian american family that i grew up with. >> what do you think when you think back to those days? >> i love what happened because
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i had -- all my uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews, they were all good people, hard working people. and they were all very human and very helpful to me personally. they gave me a passion for my whole life. they like at a very early age they loved the way that i sang and the way that i painted. that's become my extreme passion and it's been that way throughout my whole life. >> what values did they instill in you, that community you had, family and friends? >> besides great food. my mom was a great cook. but she had a tough time because my father died when i was 10. and she had to raise my brother and my sister and myself. it was during the depression. we had a very humble start. and she was just beautiful. and all my relatives would come over every sunday and make a circle around my brother, sister and myself, and we would
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entertain them. >> really? >> yeah. >> and you sing for your supper, would you? >> that's what happened, actually. they would say look at how he makes us laugh and -- >> is that when you got that excitement, that you thought this is for me? >> i remember very clearly saying, this is who i am. my family's telling me who i love, the family i love, the family, and they're telling me that i sing well and i paint well. and that created a very strong passion in my life. >> i have got three sons now. all i say to them is you've got to find a passion, then chase that passion. because if you end up doing a job you love, as you know, you are never going to be bored. you will never wake up and think, i've got to go to work today. you wake up and you're tony bennett. you get to go and sing and paint
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or whatever it may be, but everything you do, you love doing, don't you? >> it's never a bother for me. i don't need a vacation. i'm on vacation because i'm doing the two things i love. so you're right. >> the new album, they say that you can always judge a man by the company of the people that he keeps, tony. and on this album "duets ii" lady gaga, john mayer, amy winehouse, michael buble, sheryl crow, josh groban, mariah carey and so on. an extraordinary collection of amazing singers. do any of the ones on this album match up in quality of voice to the greats like sinatra or it is different these days? >> well, you know, i started with the "duets i." it was so successful that sony columbia said please do another one like that. the new artists -- the names that you just mentioned, what i love about it was the first time they all came out of schools and
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they're all taught, unlike when rosemary clooney and i started, the late rosemary clooney, we were just amateurs hoping for a break. she came in for -- she won an amateur contest, like "american idol," she came in first, and i came in second, rightfully so because she was a beautiful singer and a lovely human being. and we were told by the old masters like george burns and jack benny, they said, now, son, you know, lady, you know, you're off to a good start, but it's going to take you seven years before you become a competent performer, performing in front of an audience. but now with these new schools, they're teaching them what to expect and how to be prepared. >> and in your experience, are they as prepared and ready and able to nurture their talent in
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the same way that you could after years of treading those boards? is it as good? >> they were all very professional, they were all prepared. they came in -- i love lady gaga, when i first met her on this record date. and she was -- she went to the whole staff after it was finished, the recording that we did, thanking them for believing in her. she was so sweet to everybody, to every stage hand and everybody, thank you for being so nice to me and all that. and i was very impressed with that. >> the great thing is you've had this extraordinary career where you're absolutely huge through the '50s and '60s, one of the great stars of the world, then you hit the wall a bit. >> what's fascinating about my life, you know, my family name is benedetto. that's how i sign my paintings, benedetto. translated to english it means "the blessed one." funny how it works out. from 1950 to this very moment, 99% of the time i've been sold
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out all over the world. >> is that right? >> especially in your great country britain. >> we love you in britain. >> i know. i love it. >> how long would you say the period of -- the time in your career when it wasn't firing on all cylinders? how long was that period for you when you were slightly feeling maybe it's over? >> i tell you, it was about six months. and that was in las vegas. it was when the underworld who invented las vegas gave it over to the big corporations because it made so much money, las vegas made so much money they bought caesars palace, they bought the hilton hotel, they bought everything. that's when that change came about. it wasn't just my career, but everybody in vegas had to take a step down. >> how did that make you feel? having all this success, how did that period make you feel? >> i don't feel like ever retiring. i only feel as good as my next
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show. the other one is gone, you see. >> in your autobiography published in 1998, you shed light on a kind of darker time you had in hollywood in the '70s. and you said this about drugs. cocaine flowed as freely as champagne and soon i began joining in the festivities. it seemed like the hip thing to do but as time went on it got harder and harder to refuse it when it was offered. the whole thing started sneaking up on me. i quickly realized i was in trouble. you went through what almost every hollywood star goes through these days. when you see the younger stars or entertainer, not called necessarily stars, but when you see how much more available drugs are even more than in your day perhaps, does it concern you? >> jack rolands, woody allen's manager he said that he managed lenny bruce years ago. who was a brilliant man. and he made one sentence that changed my life. he said, he sinned against his talent. somehow or other, at any given moment, you can learn, you know? and that sentence did it for me.
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i realized that i thought i was doing well with the drugs, and i really wasn't. and i realized that i'm sinning against the gift that was given to me by nature and by my influence of my great family. and it really stopped me cold. i did not withdraw. i had no recovery period. the minute i stopped it, i felt relieved, i felt normal, i didn't have to hide to smoke or do other naughty things. i was -- all of a sudden i was just honest. >> do you feel fortunate that you were able to do that? >> it was a blessing. changed my life. >> did you have friends, colleagues and so on who were not so fortunate, who just ended up being ruined by drugs? >> that's right. especially amy winehouse. that's the one thing i regretted when i recorded with her, i knew about her reputation and so did everybody else, especially in britain, everybody in britain loved her and rightfully so. she was a great singer.
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better than any of the other young people i've ever heard. and i was never able to stop on the side and tell her, slow down because you're going to destroy yourself if you don't. >> let's have a break and talk more about amy winehouse. >> sure. >> it was a fascinating relationship, a short lived one between the two of you. i'd like to talk about that. >> sure. thank you. ♪ ♪ body and soul [ female announcer ] firm skin would be easy without gravity. with olay challenge that. regenerist day and night duo. the uv lotion helps protect skin and firms during the day. the cream hydrates to firm at night. gravity doesn't stand a chance. regenerist, from olay.
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aspercreme breaks the grip, with maximum-strength medicine and no embarrassing odor. break the grip of pain with aspercreme. ♪ body and soul >> first time i met tone was -- can i call him tone? thanks. first time i met tone, should you ask him first, really? before i start. okay. first time i met tone i would say was i took my dad and my stepmother and i boyfriend to see him. and we went both nights. ♪ >> amy winehouse talking about her duet with tony bennett.
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she called you tone. >> that's nice. >> cheeky. an extraordinary character amy winehouse. i interviewed her father a few weeks ago. he was very moving about she was a very fun loving, very amusing girl, incredibly talented. came from no real background in this at all. when you got together with her, you said before the break, how gifted she was. put that in perspective. because to me she was one of the best singer/songwriters to have emerged in a very, very long time, wasn't she? >> mm-hmm, yeah. it was a big major change in my life when it came to the fashions of music. i grew up ten years older than the great frank sinatra. he was my master. i just loved him. but then there was also nat king cole and joe stafford and peggy lee and all these wonderful singers. and the whole premise in those days was for singers to do such good performances like judy
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garland with "somewhere over the rainbow" or sinatra with "the wee small hours of the morning," to actually own a song by the performance that they gave. that kind of stopped when elvis presley became famous. then on to the rolling stones, then the beatles and all this. and they were all very competent singers, as big as they were, they went into stadiums. before that everyone sang in intimate little cabarets, that's how they became famous. >> where did amy rank, do you think -- >> of all the singers that i ever heard, amy was the best one. >> serious? >> really. a true great pop jazz singer. >> yeah. >> she heard everything. she sang -- she was influenced just by the right music. she had the ears to know just what to leave out and what to put in. and more than anything else, one of the secrets of a good performing singer is this, the heart.
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and she never sang a line that she didn't mean. everything she said was as good as billie holiday, as good as ella fitzgerald even. she was as good at that level. she was a great singer. >> where were you, tony, when you heard that she died? >> i was at home. it was a month after i recorded with her. the first thing i got -- i teared up and was so emotional about it -- >> how did you hear about it? >> my son called me up and told me she just died. and i couldn't believe it. because i wanted to really tell her to invite her to the palladium when i was going to perform there. and i wanted to talk to her about slowing down because you get very hurt if you don't. and i wanted to try and stop her like the way someone was nice enough to stop me. and i didn't do it. i felt very regretful that i didn't have the chance to talk
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to her. >> could you see the way things were going with her? could you tell? >> yes. >> you feared that she was heading down a road -- >> oh, yeah. it would have been disastrous. >> very sad, isn't it? >> it is very sad. >> a really sad loss i think. >> but you know, everyone has said, except one person that i met, and that's her original mother. i met her in new york. she came and visited me at home, my apartment. and she said something beautiful that i couldn't -- i was very, very impressed with her mom because she said, you know, it's funny. everything really feels regretful about my daughter, but i knew what she really wanted to do and what her dream was. and she actually won. she died making it happen. she said, she did what she wanted to do really happened. and even though she said she had a short life, she really accomplished what her dream was. and i thought it was very touching. >> incredibly touching. and possibly true. >> mm-hmm. >> in a strange way.
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>> i can understand that. really, i understood her mother feeling that way. it's different. >> it's very different, but i get how she feels as well, the mother. she did have a remarkable achievement, amy, for such a short life. >> and it worked. >> if she's watching this wherever she is, i think hearing you say that she was one of the greatest singers ever worked with, that would be an amazing thing for her to say -- for her to hear. >> i sent her mom a letter explaining that i thought that was a wonderful way of looking at it. >> you've been -- as i said before, you had moments in your life where it's not been happy, it's not been great. there was an anecdote in your book about a time when you took some kind of overdose. you ended up possibly being in a position where you may even have died. when you remember how you felt then, how did you come through that kind of thing?
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i mean, when people are huge entertainers, it brings with it particular pressures, doesn't it? >> at any given moment you can learn. it's the greatest line i've ever read or heard anybody ever say. at any given moment you can learn. and that's what happened to me. it was that moment when i just realized if i keep going, this is not going to work. and i had two strong a passion to actually sing as good as i can and to really respect the audience and never compromise and only sing very well written songs, don't try to just make a cheap hit to make money. i wasn't interested in that. i didn't want a hit record. i wanted a hit catalog. and it was a difficult thing to do, but it worked. >> do you have any vices these days? >> no. >> or are you as squeaky clean as i imagine you must be.
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do you drink at all? >> i have a glass of wine at night. >> and you can enjoy it. >> yes, completely. >> you don't smoke. never smoked. >> no. >> presumably the cocaine days are behind you now, tony? >> completely. i have no bad habits now. >> is it important for any singers who are watching this -- because they all get temptation thrown their way. how important is self-discipline for a singer? >> it's something you can't teach. you know, pearl bailey started me out from this amateur show i was on. it was the first job i got in greenwich village. she said, son, she said, you have a good talent, but look out for the helium in the brain. that's what the line was. it was very clear even when she said that. but nevertheless, when you're hit with a lot of success at first, you really get confused about -- you feel invincible. you know? and that's not natural.
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what's happening to me right now is i have a new album, i'm not just plugging this. i'm telling you that my son danny has been managing me for 45 years. it's a fantastic reaction to an album. in all the years, i've always had every decade, six decades, i've had hit records right along. but not like this. this album is so big that if it happened to me when i was 25, i would probably end up like what happened to elvis presley where toward the end of his life, he became bloated or marilyn monroe, she ended with a tragic life. this is happening just at the right time for me. that's what i meant about being a blessed person because -- >> how much of your ability to be successful for so long do you think is down to having strong people like your mother in your early life? >> it meant everything. it meant everything. it meant everything. it gave me the proper, natural human love, and it worked.
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>> let's take another break. i want to come back and talk to you about politics, about when you marched back in the '60s, the civil rights, martin luther king, the kennedys and indeed president obama today. ♪ i come home to you ♪ san francisco ♪ your golden sun will shine for me ♪ ♪ girl started blowing up their credit score ♪ ♪ she bought a pizza party for her whole dorm floor ♪ ♪ hundred pounds of makeup at the makeup store ♪ ♪ and a ticket down to spring break in mexico ♪ ♪ but her folks didn't know 'cause her folks didn't go ♪ ♪ to free-credit-score-dot-com hard times for daddy and mom. ♪ offer applies with enrollment in™.
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♪ i come home to you ♪ san francisco ♪ your golden sun will shine for me ♪ >> that was your theme tune, isn't it, really, i left my heart in san francisco? >> that's my signature song. >> do you ever get tired of singing it? >> no, not at all. that's a magnificent song and a city in the united states. >> if you had five minutes to live, what song would you sing? >> i'd sing the last line of that song, your golden sun will shine for me. >> yeah, great line. >> when i come home to you san francisco, your golden sun will shine for me.
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because it's not just about the city. it's about every optimistic person on the planet. we all love to be optimistic. we are instinctively optimistic. and that song says it. everybody has a dream and a hope that something's going to work for them. and then when it happens, it's a great joy. >> in the '60s, you became involved in the american civil rights movement. you participate in the '68 selma to montgomery marches. did you think then when martin luther king was assassinated, did you think in your lifetime, you would see a black president in america? >> i think it's the greatest accomplishment that the united states ever came up with. i think it's magnificent. because he's not only an african-american, but he's -- you know, i've always respected intellectual people. and he's an intellect. >> he's intelligent.
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>> he's highly -- he's more than intelligent. he's very bright. highly bright. and i love the fact that this great country, it's a great step for humanity, for the world to learn that even though i love this country more than anything that could ever happen, it's kind of ahead of all the other countries, because instead of one philosophy, it has many. it has a great palette to choose from. that only happens in the united states. >> very courageous of you to do what you did personally in the '60s, to go on those marches. it was a contentious thing to do. what was driving you at the time? >> it's a dream of mine that some day the world will pick themselves up by their boot straps and better themselves, walk toward humanity, realize what a gift it is to be alive and to be on this planet. what a gift it is that we're alive.
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>> how important for you in forming your character was fighting in the war? because you saw some pretty heavy action. i mean, you were involved in the famous battle of the bulge, across france to germany and the u.s. army from november 1944. you know, when i talk to people from that era, they always say when you go to war, the stuff you experience, it shapes your character forever. and it gives you a sense of perspective on life that nothing else can. was that how you felt? >> well, yes. it taught me -- personally, it taught me that fighting, killing someone is the lowest form of human behavior. >> but do you feel that war is ever justified? >> well -- >> i mean, when the allies took on the nazis, when adolf hitler was trying to take over the world, and was clearly an evil
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man, is it not an imperative to defend yourselves against someone like him, with all the collateral damage that comes? >> that's a very difficult question. because i think we should have a society of highly educated, intelligent people that will think realistically about how to do things. when i said to you earlier that the lowest form of nature is to kill someone, the lowest form of humanity, that's the bottom of the line. so we're actually intellectual cavemen at this point. no matter how much technical things we work out, we're still fighting. it's my dream that some day we'll find out -- everybody will learn that what a gift it is to be alive and how we should cherish one another and
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appreciate one another. >> you run into trouble with howard stern. and you're not the first to do that, by the way. >> on a daily basis. >> you made comments that on the face of it seemed quite inflammatory about 9/11 and so on. was that really the point you were making? >> yes. >> you have to value life higher than anyone than the modern world appears to be valuing it. all governments seem to be involved in some kind of conflict, war or whatever. >> oh, gosh, understand that we're all on this planet, and we only have one quick life. it's only a hundred years, if we're lucky we live a hundred years. we should realize what a gift that is to be alive. >> what does it mean to you to be an american? >> well, america -- to be an american is you're ahead of everybody on the planet. it's the first country where
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it's not one philosophy, but many, many philosophies. it's one of the things that we should celebrate, the fact that there are all different religions, every different nationality. and we should cherish the best of every religion and every nationality. we should cherish it. and it's much more creative to live that way than to have one philosophy and this is how we do it. with all the other countries, that's the way it is. >> it's strange to think that there are a lot of people out there that would directly oppose that kind of ambition. and they do. >> it's a matter of education. >> i think you're right. if the money put into warfare was put into education around the world, it would be a very different world, right? >> absolutely. >> let's take a little break. i want to bring in somebody very important in your life. someone that for 45 years has been your manager, but more than that, he's your son, daniel. danny, welcome.
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>> great to see you. >> we'll get you a chair. you're staying, tony, don't go anywhere. ♪
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♪ in other words
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♪ i love you >> that was tony bennett on mtv unplugged in 1994, a pivotal moment of your late career success. danny, welcome. you are credited, i think, in making the old man cool again. >> well, he's always been cool. >> he's always been cool. but like hip, i guess, and of the time. was there a game plan? how did you go about this? >> i started working with tony -- my dad. >> you got to call him dad. don't call him tony. you're not his manager now. >> it's tough to negotiate when you're saying dad wants -- okay. since 1979. and you know, growing up in the business and growing around such great artists was phenomenal education. and tony's performance and his
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art transcends. and i just said, you know, it's a matter of putting this in front of the people. and tony's faith in his audience is something that i always believed in, and it was just a matter of singing. >> you were quite smart. because you started pairing tony, dad, up with k.d. lang, the red hot chili peppers, of the time acts. is that part of your thinking? >> at a time when rock 'n' roll people stopped taking chances, tony never stopped. >> what's it like having your son run your business? i would imagine having somebody that close to you that you can completely trust must be something you can't really buy. >> right from the very early age, i knew that he was something special. he's highly intelligent, highly creative, has a humanistic attitude about things and is brilliant about how he goes
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about his work. >> and very protective, i would imagine. do you feel very protective towards your father? >> yeah, but i don't have to be. tony, his art speaks for itself. tony talks about the time that rock 'n' roll came into the '60s and there was a lot of changes. and duke ellington was recording on columbia records and he at one point went into the president of the company. the president of the company told him and said, i have bad news for you. seems we're going to have to drop you from the label. duke ellington. duke looked at him and said, what's the problem? oh, i'm sorry, duke, you're not selling enough records. and duke said, oh, i thought i had -- i guess i was mistaken. i thought i was supposed to make them and you were supposed to sell them. >> when you got lady gaga and tony bennett together, such a compelling mixture of talent, bringing these generations together and it just works. tony, for you, it must be constantly reinvigorating.
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>> it is. >> to play with the great performers of the day. >> but there's no condescension -- condensation -- he doesn't look down on the artists. whether lady gaga, norah jones or john mayer, they're on an equal level. so he's not condescending on that. i think the artist comes in very nervous and has a lot of trepidation. in two minutes he's making them relaxed because they feel equal. and he treats the artist -- he has such a respect for the artist. >> the one thing that always strikes me about you, tony, is you have effortless style and you're very chivalrous and polite, courteous, all those kind of old fashioned values. do you think they've slightly gone out of fashion, do you look at young people today and think i wish they were more respectful and polite. >> it's humorous to me that the empire room on top of
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rockefeller center, years ago the empire room was glorious when it first opened. and it was so civilized that fred astaire and his sister adele opened the empire room. and in those days -- and this is before my time -- you could not get in that room from monday to sunday without a tuxedo. >> right. >> you could not get in the room. now to see these great halls and people seeing symphonies and operas and they have blue jeans and all that with their knees cut open. >> a shame really. >> you just wonder where are we going with that? >> i think it's a shame. >> it is. >> i'd like it to go back to those days. my mother always said dress as if you might meet the queen at all times. >> that's wonderful. see, that's great. >> because you never know when you might. >> that's true. >> let's come back and talk
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>> you guys have an amazing chemistry. >> wow. this is like a mutual admiration society. loved "aquaman." >> thank you. >> i haven't had a chance to see the sequel yet. >> oh, i'm not in it jake gyllenhaal is. >> i guess you have your reasons. anyway pleasure meeting you. sweetheart, see you in a bit. >> okay. isn't he awesome? >> yeah, he is. >> that was a great scene. i love "entourage," do you enjoy that. >> oh, yeah. >> if i was to pin you down and say what has been the greatest moment of your life, what would you say it's been? >> when it comes to entertainment or just -- >> it could be anything. anything. it can't be the birth of your children. >> you can say that. >> in the unlikely event you were going to say that, it can't be that. >> as an entertainer it happened to me two or three nights ago at the metropolitan opera. i took a big chance and said i'd like to sing at the metropolitan opera. i was very apprehensive about what was going to happen.
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because that's the real thing. opera is the real art. >> the ultimate test. >> very high level. here i am singing jazz songs and doing a little comedy here and there. and it was so well received that to me it was just an accomplishment that i'll never forget. it was so well received and got beautiful reviews and the public more than anyone else just loved it and wanted me to go on for another hour and a half. >> put the mike down and sang a cappella. >> really? >> yeah. >> let's talk about art. because art is almost as great a passion as singing for you? >> it is. >> if you could only paint or sing for the rest of your life, which option would you take? you couldn't do both. >> i would have to do both because they're both very passionate for me. but if my voice, because of my age, let's say, starting wavering, i don't want anybody to hear that. so then i would just retire to
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painting for the rest of my life. >> can you imagine not singing again? can you imagine the day coming when you retire? >> no. >> you don't think you'll ever give up. >> oh, no. have to keep learning. >> danny, what do you think's been the secret of your father's success? if you were to crystalize it what would you say? >> i'm doing a documentary called "the zen of tony bennett." it is that focused. he's tremendously focused and calm. there's no entourage around him. he stays fit, stays healthy. he plays tennis, works out every day. >> you work out every day? >> yeah. >> do you really? >> yeah. >> amazing. >> we go to the airports and travel. he won't take elevators or escalators. use stairs. we have to grab his bags out of his hands. and he's 85. >> is it half the battle, you're doing something you love. working as hard as you can to
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keep the passion burning. >> i believe that's absolutely correct. what you described is the way i feel. >> there's almost a torch and have you to keep it alive? >> yes, and you never stop learning. >> i love the line you said about sinning against your talent. when you realize that's what you're doing, you go the other way, you nurture that talent as best you can. you do everything you can to allow yourself to perform to your best ability. >> one time, i was so upset, the company said, you're not doing enough commercial records and this and that. and when he came in, he said something to me 45 years ago, he said, dad, i know the businessmen. that's what i do. he said, now what you should do is paint whatever you want and sing whatever you want and i'll take care of the rest. and maybe during the holidays you say hello and thank everybody. just stay away from all that. it was a freedom, a reward that i received.
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to be able to have the freedom to honestly express myself without somebody saying, we don't want that. >> good luck. >> it was gone. >> i think that comes from having the foresight to choose your son as your business manager. he puts you first rather than the business side. >> yes. >> thank you for being with us. i want to end this with -- i have the opportunity to take you to a darkened room and have tony bennett sing exclusively for me and my viewers "the way you look tonight." i think we should go do this. >> i would love to. >> let's go. after you, tony. >> thank you. [ female announcer ] introducing crest complete whitening plus deep clean.
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we're here in one of tony bennett's favorite venues in new york city, the home of jazz at the lincoln center. now, performing his legendary song "the way you look tonight." the great tony bennett. take it away, tony. ♪ ♪ some day when i'm awfully low ♪ ♪ when the world is cold i will feel a glow just thinking of you ♪ ♪ and the way you look tonight
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♪ oh, but you're lovely with your smile so warm ♪ ♪ and your cheek so soft there is nothing for me but to love you and the way you look tonight ♪ ♪ with each word your tenderness grows tearing my fear apart ♪ ♪ and that laugh that wrinkles your nose touches my foolish heart ♪ ♪ lovely never never change keep
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that breathless charm ♪ ♪ won't you please arrange it 'cause i love you and the way you look tonight ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ lovely never never change keep that breathless charm ♪ ♪ won't you please arrange it 'cause i love you and the way you look tonight ♪ ♪ just the way you look tonight ♪ ♪ tonight tonight tonight


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