I got Zen with Tony Bennett

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. One of the things for which I’m grateful is the opportunity to write about pop culture for sites that people actually read. Last week I reviewed crooner Tony Bennett’s new book, “Life is a Gift, The Zen of Bennett,” (Harper Collins) for the Associated Press.

It’s a quick read that offers some sage advice from a guy who’s been in show business for 60 years, so he knows a thing or two about how to stay relevant.  I was surprised to learn that Bennett fought the Germans in World War II  and risked his life to march with Martin Luther King Jr. for civil rights in the 60’s. He’s sung for every president since Eisenhower (guess which one is his fav?) and has worked with all the greats– including his best friend and mentor, Frank Sinatra.

The book is chock full of photos of Bennett with tons of celebs — from Babs to Lady Gaga. Bennett casually mentions Christmases with Ella Fitzgerald, discussing poetry with Allen Ginsberg, Bob Hope giving him his stage name, and taking Judy Garland to parties. He soaked up career advice from Cary Grant, Bing Crosby, and Duke Ellington…and comments on singing with Paul McCartney, John Mayer, and Elton John. He also adds his take on Amy Winehouse with whom he recorded right before she died.

Many of Bennett’s drawings are also included in the book. He’s an accomplished artist and even has one of his works hanging in the Smithsonian. Who knew?

At the end of each chapter, Bennett sums up his experiences and offers Zen advice. While none of it’s mind blowing, it’s a good reminder and often inspiring, especially for any kind of artist trying to maintain his/her integrity while achieving success.

Here are a few of Bennett’s Zen teachings that stuck out for me:

–“When you choose your friends, realize you are also choosing your teachers.”

–” If you don’t care what you’re doing, why should the audience?”

–“Fame comes and goes but longevity is the thing to aim for.”

–“Obstacles are necessary for success. Be persistent and you will reach your goals.”

–“Being angry is a waste of time. Instead, count your blessings every day.”

–“In the end, all we really can rely on is ourselves.”

–“Everything you do should be done with love.”

I’d love you to give the review a read here and let me know what you think in the comments.

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One response to “I got Zen with Tony Bennett

  1. Always love your posts- this one almost makes me want to read the book!