Last week, I listened to a new album. This album/CD is titled “Love for Sale” a tribute to the Cole Porter songbook. The artists of the album were Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. This album is not their first collaboration that was “Cheek to Cheek.” These two are an unlikely pairing on its face, but when you first listen you can appreciate the musicianship of these two vocalists. In this most recent album, the Cole Porter songbook never sounded better.
The most amazing part of the creation of this album is the condition of Tony Bennett. Tony Bennett is now dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia. On 60 Minutes this past Sunday, there was a story on Tony and Lady Gaga and this last album and performance. Tony was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017. His condition has progressed so severely that he cannot hold a conversation and really cannot communicate with others. However, when the music starts playing, Tony lights up and starts singing the American Songbook without missing a beat. He recorded the Cole Porter album while suffering from his condition. The 6o Minutes piece also showed the final concert he gave at Radio City Music Hall in August. In the piece, we see a person lost in his mind back stage, but when the curtain comes up, he’s Tony Bennett. The transformation was incredible and unbelievable. The 60 Minutes piece was inspirational and sad at the same time.
Tony’s neurologist was interviewed on this transformation. She tried to explain how this happens. The doctor essentially claims that Tony’s mind is hardwired to be a performer and when the music comes on, he comes alive. Other than that explanation, the experts cannot explain how Tony does it.
I could talk about the power of music and how it enhances our lives. I am going to leave that to someone who is more equipped to discuss musical theory; or I can talk about how people 60 years apart in age can collaborate and perform to create beautiful music. What struck me was the hardwired thesis.
Christ tells us we are hardwired for God’s love. There is a sundry of Bible verses that teach us this (while in your mother’s womb….). I know this to be true. Sometimes, we just let things get in the way. Life has a habit of doing that to us. Egos, hurts and stubbornness can often block God’s love. What’s reassuring is, like Tony, God’s love is with us regardless of what we do. We can come alive with this love and show God’s love to the rest of the world. Tony’s story reminds me that God is amazing and can do anything.
The other message I received from this story is only God gets to tell us when he is done with us. In the 60 Minutes piece, Tony reiterates to the camera that there is nothing nobler than being able to help people forget about life for a while. One could interpret this as his God given mission. Memories and abilities were lost by Mr. Bennett; and he is not like his younger self. But when the music plays, Tony continues on with his gifts and mission. God is not done. Like Ezekiel’s dry bones, Tony comes to life.
Oftentimes our society declares things dead, or lost really quickly. We often look toward retirement and old age as being done with missions and work. “Leave that for younger individuals than me” is often what we say to justify not participating. We shy away from projects and missions using this reasoning. God is not done with us. No matter what age or what capabilities we have, God still wants to use us for his mission. Remember, we are hardwired for God’s love. With that wiring, we are not done until God tells us. God’s mission still prevails.
I hope you check out “Love for Sale.” I also hope you find the joy and peace one receives when hardwired to God.