“Because of You” was Tony Bennett’s first hit song to top the charts in 1951, when he was 25. It was also the last song he would sing before his death on July 21, 2023, at age 96. Bennett devoted his decades-long career to preserving jazz standards and classics, much like this one. Even a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in his later years did not dampen his determination or spirit.
Most of us are surely familiar with the legendary entertainer, regardless of the era we were born in or the genre we prefer. Bennett’s laid-back jazzy vocal style won him a total of 19 Grammy Awards in a career spanning nearly eight decades. The first was awarded in 1962 for his signature tune, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” The suave singer recorded more than 70 albums, charting over 30 singles overall. But it was the song “Because of You” that made Bennett a star.
“Because of You” was co-written by Arthur Hammerstein, known for his musical theater scores. The song was originally released by Larry Clinton and His Orchestra on March 28, 1941. Bennett recorded it in 1951 as the title track for his debut album of the same name, released the following year. The song reached No. 1 on the charts for 10 weeks. Bennett cherished and performed it throughout his entire career.
The first verse begins:
Because of you there’s a song in my heart
Because of you my romance had its start
Because of you the sun will shine
The moon and stars will say you’re mine
Forever and never to part
Although it is a song that holds special meaning for lovers, no truer words could pay homage to the man who always had a song in his heart. Bennett took every opportunity to share his romance with music with the world. And although now gone, his repertoire lives on.
Bennett once talked about his lifelong passion for music during a 1995 interview with Good Housekeeping Magazine, as recently shared by Reuters: “Through song and art, I can communicate what I believe is the essence of life – truth and beauty. In my time, I’ve seen both go out of style but they always come back in vogue again.”
During his later years, Bennett continued to breathe new life into Great American Songbook classics by teaming up with multiple artists to record duets. The list of star collaborators include Barbra Streisand, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Andrea Bocelli, Norah Jones, and Josh Groben to name only a few. But Lady Gaga, may be his most well-known duet partner of all.
Despite Bennett’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2016, he continued to record new music and perform. Ultimately, Bennett put on his final concert together with Lady Gaga, “One Last Time: Live at Radio City Music Hall,” in August 2021. It was a celebration of the singer’s 95th birthday. And their final album together, “Love for Sale,” was also released later that year.
Bennett’s wife, Susan, had only publicly revealed his diagnosis in February 2021. The family shared their Alzheimer’s journey with AARP Magazine later that year. Susan stated that Tony’s love of music and singing never faltered.
Bennett did sing “Because of You” during that final performance at Radio City Music Hall. It was also reported that he sat down at the piano to sing this song mere days prior to his death.
I only live for your love and your kiss
It’s paradise to be near you like this
Because of you my life is now worth while
And I can smile
Because of you
Tony, I hope you know that your voice was paradise. Your music made our life worthwhile. And we can all smile… because of YOU!