In Barbara Cook’s Final Days, Her Friends Came to Sing at Her Bedside

For some of Ms. Cook’s friends, lyrics simply came easier than words as they sat in her bedroom alongside her son, Adam LeGrant; her longtime manager, Jeff Berger; and her assistant of nearly three decades, Louise Martzinek. Singing, after all, defined Ms. Cook’s life, from her success on Broadway as the original Marian the Librarian in “The Music Man” to her later concerts and cabaret shows after years struggling with alcoholism and depression.

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Ms. Cook’s son, Adam LeGrant, in her apartment in Manhattan on Thursday, two days after her death at age 89.

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Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

For 45 minutes at Ms. Cook’s side, Mr. Pizzarelli played whatever sprung to mind. He strummed the opening chords to “The Way You Look Tonight,” a song that appeared on her 1993 album, “Close as Pages in a Book,” a collection of songs by Dorothy Fields. Then came “More Than You Know,” which Ms. Cook featured on the 2012 album “Loverman” and which Mr. Pizzarelli recalled hearing her sing at a party once. He went through “I Got Rhythm,” the George Gershwin staple, because Ms. Cook used to close shows with the song.

“I never know what to say in general,” Mr. Pizzarelli said. “But I thought the only thing that I can do is go and play and sing.”

Ms. Molaskey sang “Goodnight, My Someone,” which Ms. Cook performed in “The Music Man.”

“It’s so interesting how life is — that you could adore someone so much when you were a kid in your basement, and there you are invited to the most personal thing that could ever happen, to say goodbye to somebody,” Ms. Molaskey said. “She was unconscious but the doctors had said that they thought she could hear people talking.”

In at least one moment, Ms. Cook seemed to signal that she was hearing them, according to Ms. Molaskey.

“We started singing and she lifted her finger up to her…

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