When I was growing up my parents listened to Tony Bennett. I still listen to him and am astounded that at 85, the man still has such a vital presence in the music world.
The other night I watched a show that recorded his duets with artists like Lady Gaga, Faith Hill and Andrea Bocelli. In each of those instances, Bennett was relaxed and appeared to be having fun. (Except when he knocked it out of the ballpark with Aretha Franklin. They were both sweating by the final note.)
The other singers appeared to be having just as much fun, although at times they said they were very nervous because they wanted to do well and not mess up in front of such a music icon.
Seriously...there was Lady Gaga with blue hair and John Mayer nearly shaking with nerves, and there was Tony Bennett, just as gracious as if he was still working with Frank Sinatra or Mel Torme.
He's 85. An age when many of us consider that anyone still working should be in a blue vest with a "How can I help you?" tag on. But jamming with some of the best in the business? That's not something many of us may envision for ourselves at that age.
The reason may be because we have a tendency to want to collaborate with people our own age, whether we're 50 or 25. We may not like what we know about other generations, or we may have stereotyped an entire age group based on a couple of interactions.
But I think if we took a page from Tony Bennett's songbook -- and learned to embrace, enjoy and collaborate with those of a different age and background -- we'd have a much more rewarding and vital career. Even at 85.
How to do you feel about collaborating with other generations?