I love classic crooning vocalists. Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin ... later on, Harry Connick Jr., Michael Bublé ... I was thrilled when Michael Bublé hit the scene because he revitalized an incredible genre of music - that man from Vancouver B.C. You'll hear more of Bublé from me later on! Barry Manilow got it so right when he made 2 A.M. Paradise Café. I beg all of you who appreciate jazz, capped with the flair for a dim-lit bar, filled with the ambient chatter of patrons, martinis in hand, appreciate 2 A.M. Paradise Café. Profound silence calms the crowd in anticipation for the first anxious note from the grand piano and the first pleading call from the vocals of the silhouette standing silently in the dark. Download the MP3s ... buy the CD ... better yet, find the vinyl and a record player. Listen to Barry Manilow's 2 A.M. Paradise Café, undisturbed. It's a MASTERPIECE! I know that most everybody thinks of "Mandy" when Manilow is mentioned, and "Mandy" has it's own merits, but 2 A.M. Paradise Café is a whole different ball game. It's Manilow's Zenith! ... As far as I'm concerned, anyway. [Insert segue here!] Though Fred Astaire sang this song to Ginger Rogers in the film Swing Time, I fell in love with Tony Bennett's version and later, Michael Bublé's rendition. It was difficult to choose between the two versions, but, in the end, I chose Bennett. Oh, Tony Bennett, well, I don't have to say much about Tony Bennett. Tony Bennett bridges time with classics like my song choice for this week. So, in the end, I chose Bennett's classic call, in lieu of Bublé's contemporary interpretation. It just felt right.
The Way You Look Tonight is a song featured in the film Swing Time, originally performed by Fred Astaire. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936. The song was sung to Ginger Rogers as Penelope "Penny" Carroll by Astaire's character of John "Lucky" Garnett while Penny was busy washing her hair in an adjacent room, and feeling anything but beautiful at the time. The song was written by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Dorothy Fields, and has become a standard. Dorothy Fields later remarked, "The first time Jerry played that melody for me I went out and started to cry. The release absolutely killed me. I couldn't stop, it was so beautiful."
Billie Holiday recorded this song in the same year as the film; her version can be found on several collections including her Columbia box set from 2001. It has also been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams, Chad & Jeremy, Bryan Ferry, Olivia Newton-John, Harry Connick, Jr., Rod Stewart, James Darren, Michael Bublé, Steve Tyrell, Joey McIntyre, Maroon 5, Ray Quinn, Kris Allen, and in the 1930s as a duet between Bing Crosby and his then-wife Dixie Lee. The song also gave The Lettermen their first hit in 1961, hitting #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.