John Madara, a very well respected record producer and an old friend, called me and asked me to work with him on a CD for Tony Danza. We met for lunch and discussed the project.
A few days later we met with Tony. The three of us talked about the kind of music Tony felt comfortable with. The first song mentioned was “The House I Live In.”
It was a real bold move on Tony’s part to agree to do it. I really give him credit for jumping in. He was real nervous about it. For Tony it was really new territory. He was afraid of sounding slick and concerned that people would think he was on an ego trip. I knew it would be great because Tony was not a crooner, and that was the key to the whole thing. There was absolutely no ego involved at all. It was all passion from Tony. He called me up one day and said “Artie I trust you implicitly.”
We recorded at Capitol Studios in Hollywood. The same studio that has so much history within its walls. Singers like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin and Peggy Lee etc. all made their hits there. On the first session we only recorded “The House I Live In.” I worked for six days on the arrangement. I wanted it to have it’s own point of view, and not sound like the old Sinatra recording at all. I could not wait to get to the studio to record it. It was very emotional. After the final take was finished we all listened to a playback. It really worked. The members of the orchestra really loved it. They were calling me for two weeks telling me how much they enjoyed it. John Madara’s idea of adding Tony’s daughter to it was just the right touch. It added the innocence that made Tony’s vocal even more emotional. I used acoustic guitars and harmonica along with the orchestra for the Americana flavor.
The rest of the CD has a mixture of big band swing, a few ballads and a very different version of “God Bless America.” One of the songs ”Daddy Dear” is a duet with Tony’s daughter Emily. She did a great job. It was really heartwarming watching Tony work with his daughter on the vocals. I could see his eyes tearing on more than one occasion. The CD was released and it started getting picks all over the country. The DJ’s loved it. After the project was finished, I went to Las Vegas to see him perform. He played to packed houses and the audiences loved him. I believe Tony Danza will be around for a long long time singing and dancing and making people smile.
This picture was taken at Capitol Studios at that first recording session when we recorded “The House I Live In.”