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Here’s Why Lady Gaga Broke Down Recording New Album with Tony Bennett

This album sounds incredible.

Lady Gaga, one of Tony Bennett’s big fans, who views the Grammy Award-winning crooner as both a father figure and musical mentor, is among those most distraught over his Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. Bennett’s family went public this week, via an article in AARP Magazine, with the heartbreaking news that the Grammy Award-winning singer has been contending with Alzheimer’s disease since 2016. Initially, the dreaded illness didn’t slow Bennett down, as he continued to keep a full schedule, touring and recording, even if he occasionally forgot a lyric or the names of his longtime band members, or seemed disoriented about where he was. Now, sadly, it’s worse, though he’s in no pain and actually in good physical shape, and continues to rehearse his music daily at home.

Amidst that backdrop, Gaga and Bennett spent parts of 2018-2020 recording material for a follow-up to their blockbuster 2014 collaboration, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard’s Top 200 pop and rock chart, sold nearly three-quarters of a million copies, and led to a well-received tour. The two recorded their new duets album, which will be released this spring, at the Electric Lady Studios in New York City. John Colapinto, who penned the AARP article, screened raw footage from a making-of documentary about the sessions, and reported seeing a “considerably more muted Bennett,” who “rarely” spoke and whose words were “halting” when he did so, and a deeply affected, supremely supportive Gaga.

“‘You sound so good, Tony,’ she tells him at one point,” Colapinto recounts observing of the footage. “‘Thanks,’ is his one-word response. The pain and sadness in Gaga’s face is clear at such moments — but never more so than in an extraordinarily moving sequence in which Tony (a man she calls ‘an incredible mentor, and friend, and father figure’) sings a solo passage of a love song. Gaga looks on, from behind her mic, her smile breaking into a quiver, her eyes brimming, before she puts her hands over her face and sobs.”

Interestingly, Colapinto notes in this piece that Bennett’s son (and manager), Danny, touched base with Gaga about revealing news of the upcoming album. The superstar gave her blessing. Colapinto writes, “I wanted to check with her to make sure she was cool,” Danny said, “because she watches his back all the time. She was like, ‘Absolutely, it’s just another gift that he can give to the world.’”