Things the Grammy Awards Taught Us
The last time I watched a Grammy Awards telecast all the way through was when John Denver was the host, and the Eurythmics were the hottest band on the planet (that would be 1982, punk). Until last night – I watched from beginning to end, and learned a great deal in the process.
If you were an alien who just dropped in from another planet and watched the Grammy Awards to see what music is all about, the first thing you would gather is that rock and roll is best performed by old guys. The old guys who bookended the show – Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney – peaked long ago as master songwriters but they’re still both dynamite live performers.
Even though Springsteen’s new song “We Take Care Of Our Own” sounds like about 10 other Springsteen tunes, his rockin’ performance managed to stoke a little excitement for the rest of the telecast to come (and, Bruce hopes, his new album which conveniently comes out soon).
And you can’t go wrong with McCartney doing a Beatles classic; or classics, in the form of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” from the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. Sir Paul’s voice has lost a lot of its old bite and he is a clever performer who knows how to manage his limitations.
Which he did by playing the tune backed by his crack touring band (and the awesome drummer Abe Laboriel Jr.) and, next, by turning “The End” into a superstar guitar duel featuring McCartney, his band’s guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, as well as guests Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh. Everyone acquitted themselves well except for maybe Springsteen, who looked like he ran out of gas after his first solo. Maybe next time invite Glen Campbell to play.
Another thing I learned is that the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary reunion tour may be entertaining mainly for singer Mike Love’s crazy antics. Probably the most clueless man in rock, Love is the musical equivalent of actor Nicolas Cage – a true head case. The only thing older than that merch-table ball cap was Al Jardine’s comb-over … but the Beach Boys actually sounded all right. Probably that’s because Brian Wilson’s backing band is also a crack unit and all the Boys had to do was sing. (Perhaps the lesson here is if you’re an older rocker get yourself a smokin’ band – like Bruce, Paul and Brian.)
I also learned that rhythm and blues has changed a little. Where R&B used to mean Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Smokey Robinson, it now means Chris Brown. Don’t know if the guy can actually sing – he didn’t last night – but he does a mean backflip. And I hear he has a left hook that would do Ike Turner proud. Otis did win an award though, as the title of a rap song.
One more thing I learned is that true talent will always save the day. Thanks, Adele. You deserve every award you get, if only for exposing the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and especially Nicki Minaj as the frauds they are.
So the big lesson we can carry away from Grammy Awards 2012 is that you don’t “get” music by watching stupid TV shows. You need to listen – with your ears, with your brain and with your heart. And only then will you find the music. I think Dave Grohl said that.
As a bonus we’ve added the best moment from last night’s Grammy telecast: a TV commercial from Chipotle that features a neat little story and cool music (Willie Nelson singing Coldplay’s “The Scientist”). Like Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad with Clint Eastwood, this will prove to be the most memorable moment from an otherwise overhyped and bloated affair.
YouTube: “Back To The Start” Chipotle ad