Courtesy of Julia Hessler
More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We’re calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.
The song is “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” by Tony Bennett. My mother loved him and had most of his albums. I had a hard time picking just one of his songs. She thought his voice was the best in the industry. She was loving and romantic and his songs seemed to reach her, whether she was sunny or blue.Through the years, he regained popularity and this tickled her. This particular song was played often and she would be belting it out with him, nodding along contently.
When I hear this song I still think of my mother first, but I’m also reminded of my childhood with my parents and my four siblings. We spent our early years in a humble three-bedroom, one-bath home. I can remember one summer staycation, my mother spinning her Victrola with a recent Tony Bennett album. It seemed to calm us all down. In later years, when she was in memory care, when I visited, I would take her to a sunny spot and play his music on Spotify. She may have forgotten our names and certain personal biographical information, but she remembered every word to his songs. We had planned to play his music at her funeral reception, but sadly COVID-19 restrictions prevented it. I will always be reminded of my mother when I hear Mr. Bennett, and so will my siblings. Always. —Julia Hessler, daughter