Legend has it that, after Tony Bennett earned himself a hit in 1951 with his own version of Hank Williams' heart-rending "Cold, Cold Heart," Williams himself called the crooner to complain that Bennett had "ruined" the song.
True, partially true or wholly invented, this is a great story, for it points to Bennett's ability to make a song his own, whether that song is the work of a Gershwin, a Berlin, a Duke Ellington or the greatest songwriter in the history of country music.
The man has just got a way of phrasing things, a manner of placing emotional emphasis on certain words, an ability to make it all swing, that is virtually without parallel. These, sadly, might well be dying arts.
Even at 82, Bennett remains a vibrant artist and an agile singer. He's also still one helluva performer. Bennett will prove as much when he begins a two-night stay at the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. He's back at 9 p.m. next Friday. Both shows are sold out.
Bennett will return to the area for a performance at the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts on Dec. 14. See Page 24 for more on the UB Center for the Arts season, including the Bennett show.
-- Jeff Miers