San Franciscos Romantic Flair Still Fresh

By: Matthew Paolini

San Francisco is undeniably among Americas favourite tourist and travel destinations. But as I was researching my own travel itinerary recently, I realized that the city is more than just a fantastic place to visit. Its also an American icon, so much so, in fact, that its been portrayed thousands of times in music, movies and TV commercials. These pictures and sounds have become permanently associated with our perception of the city.

Some popular song tunes illustrate this point quite well. For those of us who regard San Francisco as a romantic destination, it may well be because of Italian singer Tony Bennetts trademark song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". Born Anthony Benedetto, Bennett first saw the light of day in Astoria, Queens in New York City. Bennetts first big break came when Pearl Bailey picked him to open her number at a Greenwich Village nightclub in the late 1940s. Bennett soon went on to sign with Columbia Records, launching a singing career that would only become more popular as the Fifties marched on.

Tony Bennett released "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" at the height of his popularity in the year 1962. At first, this Ballad of the Bay met with only moderate success, topping out at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. But the song showed enough tenacity on other charts to eventually become a gold record. It even won a Grammy Award for Best Record and Top Male Vocal.

Notwithstanding Bennetts hit with "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", the singers fortunes took a turn for the worse when the Beatles and other British musical groups first invaded and then conquered the American pop music scene in the mid-1960s. Those of us old enough to remember that period of American history will also remember other musical groups everlastingly linked with San Franciscos iconic image as the home of Flower Power.

In the end, Bennetts singing career would outlast that of Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead. Surprisingly, the performer turned his career around in the late 1980s by serenading younger crowds saturated with disco, punk and techno tunes. Appearances on Letterman, Conan OBrien and a twosome with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the MTV Video Music Awards cemented the singers hip new image.

Today in his early eighties, Bennett still tours and performs frequently, delighting audiences with effortless performances of "Fly Me to the Moon" and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". The Recording Industry Association of America and the NEA have selected Bennetts homage to the City on the Bay as one of the most historically significant songs of the twentieth century.

Are you ready to leave your heart in San Francisco? If you are, youll be in excellent company! According to the citys website, San Francisco draws more than fifteen million visitors a year, including thousands of honeymooners and countless couples looking for the perfect romantic getaway. See you soon in the City by the Bay!

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