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Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I always built, alas, on weak and shifting sand
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day
And only now I see how the years ran away
The Best is yet to come and babe, won’t that be fine?
You think you’ve seen the sun, but you ain’t seen it shine
—Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, music by Cy Coleman (1959)
Lena Horne made “Yesterday” her own in her very long career. Consider this powerful live version from Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. She was already 64.
Here is how it sounds at 78:
Now consider what became a signature tune for Frank Sinatra. “The Best Is Yet to Come” was written in 1959 and first recorded by Tony Bennett in 1962, but the Chairman of the Board recorded it in 1964 and that is the voice most associated with the song. Here is his original recording, remastered:
Here he is live in 1979:
Where Lena Horne reflects a great deal of melancholy, Old Blue Eyes is defiantly optimistic, even as his voice is noticeably worn at the age of 64. They had both been through a great deal of living, but he had done a great deal more hard living, with cigarettes and bourbon weathering his vocal cords, and his memory would blur, where hers stayed clear. For all her melancholy, Lena Horne continued years of fiery performances and recorded new material well into the 1990s.