What are Standards?
Forgotten vaudeville songs and show tunes rescued from the sheer music pile by great singers and the masters of jazz.
There is no superior. There is no high and low. The beautiful thing is, you don’t have to choose, you can love it all.
Those songs are there to help you when you need them most.
You can stumble into them anytime, like the noise and benediction of any basement dive.—Elvis Costello, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, p. 432
Tony Bennett is 90 today. If he has ever penned as poetic a definition of the compositions that comprise music’s Great Songbook, the Standards, as Elvis Costello has above, it does not much matter, as Bennett’s voice is one of the three or four one hears in the jukebox of one’s mind when any number of titles from that Songbook are mentioned.
Bennett began singing professionally in 1946 and his next paid gig comes next week at the Fox Theater in Detroit. He landed a number one hit in 1951 with “Because of You” and saw his duet recordings with Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga hit the charts in this decade. He has been re-discovered by each new generation every ten years or so since the 1980s, when he was adopted as something of a jazz mascot by the MTV generation, who then continued to listen to him because he was that damn good.
In 2008, Elvis Costello gave Bennett the full hour on his television show, Spectacle.
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For many Americans, the TRS-80 was the first personal computer they ever saw (waving my hand here), much less used. RadioShack announced 39 years ago today that it would be selling a personal computer, designed and developed by its own engineers, for $399 each, or $599 with a 12″ monitor and RS tape cassette recorder for storage. The recorder was essential, as there was no on-board memory. Within weeks, the company sold more than 10,000 units.
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Flannery O’Connor died 52 years ago today. Lenny Bruce died 50 years ago today.
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Ernie Pyle was born on this date in 1900. John T. Scopes was born on this date in 1900 as well. The late P.D. James was born on this date in 1920. Hayden Carruth was born on this date in 1921. Anne Klein was born on this date in 1923. Leon Uris was born 92 years ago today. Sir Terry Wogan was born on this date in 1938. (He died in January.)
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Martin Sheen is 76. Martha Stewart is 75 today. John Landis is 66. Tom Brady is 39. Evangeline Lilly is 37.
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