On 60 Minutes this week, Anderson Cooper led a segment on Tony Bennett, the famous American singer of show tunes, big band, and jazz, best known for hits like “I left my heart in San Francisco” and “The Lady is a Tramp.” He’s been performing for eight decades and for his 95th birthday in August, he performed with Lady Gaga at Radio City Music Hall. As Mr. Cooper noted, it was likely his last public performance because beyond his age, Bennett is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, which was diagnosed in 2016. In the interview with Mr. Cooper, the impact of the disease was readily apparent. Mr. Bennett’s wife, Susan, did most of the talking and only occasionally would Mr. Bennett’s expression change, and he might say a few words.
Incredibly, though, when his accompanist started to play the piano, Mr. Bennett’s eyes brightened, and he became the performer we all remember. During the interview, he sang his old songs for an hour from memory. Ahead of the August 3rd concert, Lady Gaga remarked that in their rehearsals, he hadn’t once said her name, and she did not think he remembered who she was even though they had collaborated on two albums in the past decade. But, when the lights went on and he came on stage on the 3rd, he sang 11 songs and then when Lady Gaga joined him to sing some duets, he said “Wow, Lady Gaga.” She said that that was first time he had said her name in a very long time. Sadly, when Mr. Cooper talked with Mr. Bennett several days later and commented on the magnificent performance, Mr. Bennett had no memory of the concert.
Alzheimer’s disease is devastating for those afflicted, their families and their friends. But Mr. Bennett’s performance shows that at least some memories are not gone forever but perhaps only trapped somewhere. For Mr. Bennett, the trigger to release some of those memories is music. When asked if this is a sad story, Lady Gaga had a different take. She said that it’s hard to watch someone change but that the beautiful part was that even though things can change, you can still be magnificent. Hopefully, through funding and research, progress can be made to help free those trapped memories for those suffering.
This week’s selection is:
Yellowstone (Prime Video)
Kevin Costner stars as the patriarch of a powerful, complicated family of ranchers. A sixth-generation homesteader and devoted father, John Dutton controls the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. He operates in a corrupt world where politicians are compromised by influential oil and lumber corporations and land grabs make developers billions. Amid shifting alliances, unsolved murders, open wounds, and hard-earned respect, Dutton's property is in constant conflict with those it borders -- an expanding town, an Indian reservation, and America's first national park.