On “A Swingin’ Christmas,” Tony Bennett and His Daughter Sing Wildly Inappropriate Duet

Be afraid.

For the record, Tony Bennett is one of my all-time favorite singers. His tone; his arrangements; his phrasing, which is a never-ending revelation. The fact that he seems like such a completely decent fellow. All of it. I’m a huge fan.

For some 25 years now, Mr. Bennett’s classic 1968 Christmas album, Snowfall, has been cherished by my wife and I. When we play it for the first time each year we sit on our couch, hold hands, cry a bit. We love that album. It’s perfect.

So this year we were excited to learn that last year Mr. Bennett released his second Christmas album, A Swingin’ Christmas, featuring The Count Basie Big Band. Whoo-hoo! Had all the makings of a Shore household Christmas classic!

So my wife Cat and I bought Swingin’ Christmas, sat down, hit the play button, and absolutely reveled in every note of the album, right up until we realized that we were listening to Tony and his daughter Antonia Bennett singing a back-and-forth duet about how completely hot they are for each other.

Tony sings the opening stanza of “I’ve Got My Love To Keep My Warm” (hello? sound to anyone else, right off, like a song you might not want to sing with your daughter?), and it’s so perfect you melt. The guy’s wisely mellow chops could fell a sequoia.

For the second stanza, a solo woman’s voice kicked in.

“Cool!” I said to Cat. “A duet!” I didn’t know anyone but Tony sang on the album. But who could doubt this woman would be excellent? It’s not like Tony Bennett has to audition buskers for accompanists.

I was immediately disappointed, though, because this singer was doing that cutsey, super-coy, over-the-top sex-purr thing female vocalists sometimes do when they’re young or unsure or poorly managed or whatever.

I rolled my eyes. “What? A sex kitten? And could she lay it on any thicker? How lame.”

“That’s his daughter,” said Cat. As Cat’s humor tends to not run along the lines of incest jokes, I was forced to consider that she wasn’t kidding.

“Excuse me?” I said, as Antonia sang seductively about her heart being on fire, and the flames growing higher.

“His daughter,” deadpanned Cat. “That’s Tony Bennett’s daughter singing that.”

Marilyn Monroe couldn’t have poured any more come-hither sensuality into the lines, “Off with my overcoat; off with my gloves. I need no overcoat. I’m burning with love.” And then Tony comes back on, diggin’ the whole crazy scene. It’s unbelievable. How could anyone have let the great Tony Bennett put that song on his album? Surely someone at Sony went, “Wait—that’s his daughter?” Was there no one along the line who thought that “Jingle Bells” might have been a more appropriate song choice?

A Swingin’ Incestuous Christmas ruined Snowfall for us. How could we ever again enjoy Bennett singing “My Favorite Things,” or “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”?

How could anyone?

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://www.1truebeliever.wordpress.com wickle

    Alright … that's creepy.

  • http://www.twitter.Com/Deggsy Derek O'Brien

    Many shades of Eeuuww. Obviously the Bennett family stocked up on an Economy-sized can of Creepy Sauce for the holidays. Tony should have invited kd lang to duet with him again, I thought their album together was terrific.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Swingin', indeed.

  • Amy S

    okay – I hear what you are saying – but I think you are going too far with the actual heart of Tony and his daughter.

    I am sure that is not the issue for them and frankly most people are not so blantant about that kind of sexual behavior in public – so I think you are being pretty harsh on your opinion. But then again it is just after all an opinion.

    not bashing you as I totally understand – I can't stand to listen to Amy Grant/Vince Gill or Garth Brookes/Trisha Yearwoods recordings – after all they put their family through for their indiscresion. Again, though I am quickly reminded I am not judge or juror – that is left to God. Thankfully!

    So I guess – I am posting – who cares – if you don't like it throw it away or post it on craigslist or something like that and get rid of it.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Amy: I didn't say anything about Tony or his daughter's "actual hearts." And I certainly never indicated that I thought they were involved in incest. Yikes, man. Maybe read the stuff a little before you comment on it?

    "Creepy sauce." Too funny. (Well, I mean, in the way you used it, Derek.)

  • JJ

    I so agree; that duet was a very bad idea.

    Tony is usually a class act in his musical career (in addition to being a great painter). I'm surprised no red flags went up the flat pole on this. His marketing people should have seen it coming and stopped it — unless he's just such an icon that no one can question him?

  • onemansbeliefs

    I guess Frank and Nancy opened the floodgates oh so many years ago…

  • James

    This brings to mind one of my favorite songs, and the . . . hesitation . . . I had listening to it after realizing that Nino Tempo and April Stevens are brother and sister (Deep Purple): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecX4UfwvxLI

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    JJ: I'm glad you, too, thought it … alienatingly weird. I wasn't going to even post this thought, because I was afraid I'd get bombed from people yelling at me about how I could possibly SUGGEST that … well, you know. So I'm glad everyone here seems to be agreeing with me. Because I couldn't find ANYONE on the web who even seemed to notice the … extreme not-rightness of that song.

    Oneman: Did Frank and Nancy ever do a … sexy-hot-style duet together? (God, please say no….)

    James: i don't know this song. Will go listen now….

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Now, see, the Nino Temple and April Stevens song you linked to, James, doesn't bother me. Because they're harmonizing on the same song all along. That invites us to think that each of them is singing the song to someone special in their own, SEPARATE life. They're singing WITH each other, not TO each other. It's the TO each other—first Dad singing one stanza of the song to his daughter, and then she singing the next (sexy) stanza back to him—that makes the Tony/Antonia thing so … deeply creepy.

  • RogerC

    Minus the sex, is father/daughter love okay?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well, it's a tough call. But, what the heck: I'll go out on a limb, and say that it's perfectly fine for a father and daughter to love each other, provided that love doesn't take the form of sexual congress between them. Heavy petting is also out. Pretty much anything involving tongues should be vigilantly avoided.

  • onemansbeliefs

    John, In 1967 they went and said "Something Stupid."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gXpHfwYFok

    Racy? Not by today's standards, but still eerie.


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