Amore: The Story of Italian American Song by Mark Rotella. Published 2010. ISBN #978-0-86547-698-1

Amore: The Story of Italian American Song by Mark Rotella. Published 2010. ISBN #978-0-86547-698-1

Great books, like great songs, like great art, transcend time by encapsulating it, simultaneously bringing us memory and experience, thrusting them forward into the expectation of hope, and happiness, and resolution. Even tragic books, even love sick lyrics, carry within them that seed of sustainability of the human spirit, and these are the moments that are captured in "Amore". Written in a sparse, journalistic style that is simultaneously elegant and heartfelt, this book is able to capture those moments we all have listening to songs that speak to us, from the operatic style of Enrico Caruso, to the smooth passion of Frank Sinatra, and all of the singers of the "Italian Decade" of American music.

For me, personally, I've had the pleasure of seeing Tony Bennett perform live when he was honored at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center's "Salute to Greatness" Dinner, in recognition of his contributions to the Civil Rights movement. Bennett is a performer who sings from his heart, and experiencing his impromptu, acoustic version of "Lost in the Stars" is a moment I will never forget. In the last chapter of "Amore", Rotella describes a similar moment, watching Bennett perform at Radio City Music Hall two weeks after September 11, 2001:

"...He thanked his band and said to the audience, "You know, they don't make theaters like this anymore." He looked up at the control booth and spoke to the eaves: "Hey, Jimmy, can you do me a favor and kill the sound." Bennet then walked up to the front of the stage - without amplification, without accompaniment - and sang the saddest, the most yearning version of "Fly Me to the Moon" I had ever heard. It was as if he were standing on the piazza of his Calabrese town for all of the villagers to hear."

Moments like that, written and shared, read and re-read, documented and remembered are what make memorable art, and memorable books, because they tie us together, emotion to emotion, history to history, and allow us to transcend.

Read this book.