…and the Grammy goes to “Music’s Biggest Night!”
The 57th annual Grammy Awards took place Sunday night, and as expected, I have a few thoughts. First off, I should make it known that I didn’t watch the Grammys. I rarely do. Forgive me, but I’m not the kind of music fan that cares to see what Beyonce wore on the red carpet or how many awards Taylor Swift took home. Those moments don’t affect anything outside of social media.
That being said, I’m always interested to see the results of the untelevised awards. These are the hidden genres – blues, Americana, metal. Sure, the Grammys honor these genres by including them in the show, but do they really recognize them? You’d have to go online to know who won. As I mentioned above, the televised portion is for Beyonce and Taylor Swift. That’s what sells, and in fairness, money talks.
Since everyone is probably already aware of the results for the big awards, I’ll stick to what you didn’t hear about.
The Grammys have placed all of the blues, folk, bluegrass and Americana music into one genre: American Roots. Within it are seven categories, and Rosanne Cash proved to be the big winner, taking home all three of the awards she was nominated for. Though I wouldn’t call this an upset, it was certainly puzzling. Cash’s latest album, “The River & The Thread,” was a solid album, but when you look at her competition, it’s surprising she won all three.
For “Best American Roots Performance,” she was up against Gregg Allman and Taj Mahal; Billy Childs with Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas; Keb’ Mo’ with The California Feetwarmers; and Nickel Creek.
While I’m generally against a live performance winning a Grammy, the duet of “Statesboro Blues” between Allman and Taj Mahal was fantastic. It captured a great performance, which is what recording is all about.
For “Best American Roots Song,” she was up against the late Jesse Winchester; Woody Guthrie & Del McCoury; Steve Martin; and John Hiatt.
I would’ve been in favor of Cash winning this award, if “Etta’s Tune” had been entered, rather than “A Feather’s Not a Bird.” Given the circumstances, I would’ve liked to have seen John Hiatt win.
This brings me to the last Cash-dominated category – “Best Americana Album.” In this category, she was up against Hiatt, Nickel Creek and Keb’ Mo’ again, as well as a newcomer – Sturgill Simpson, whose album “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music,” was certainly the most original, mixing a unique psychedelic country sound with the pure, traditional tones that drove much of the classic country music of the ’60s and ’70s. The recording is raw. The songs are remarkable. The band, especially Sturgill, sounds great.
This Cash win was the most surprising to me, as I was sure Simpson would easily take this award home, and in reality, he should’ve. He made a true album, and though it’s the least commercial of the nominees, it’s the first real concept album to hit this genre in years, even decades, I would say.
Although I didn’t watch the live show, I do own a computer, so I was able to find out about highlights from the evening immediately. Though there were a few moments, worthy of checking out, there were two big moments that sparked my interest: AC/DC and Jeff Lynne.
With AC/DC, much to my surprise, former drummer Chris Slade was back with the band, while Phil Rudd remains sidelined after allegedly hiring a hitman to take out two people. You can imagine how that would prevent a reunion. Luckily, a video of the band’s performance of “Highway To Hell” was available, so I could get a better idea of where the band stands. If they sound that good for the whole tour, I’ll be the first in line. The most impressive was that Brian Johnson’s voice sounded great, compared to recent years.
In an exciting moment, Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra made an appearance. Pop star Ed Sheeran accompanied Lynne, though I couldn’t see the reason why. My impression was that the performance was supposed to mark the relaunch of Electric Light Orchestra, rather than serve as another duet for the evening. That being said, the performance was very well done, and I look forward to seeing what happens with Lynne this year.
And just like that, another batch of Grammys go by. I would like to see a year when the Grammys recognize the American Roots artists on the televised portion of the program, though that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
But when you think about it, isn’t this supposed to be the one show that’s about the music, rather than the stars? I supposed the jury’s still out on that one. Not to get deep with cliches here, but the jury is made up of you and I – the music consumers. At the end of the day, we’re in control.
We just seem to let it slip away. Think about that, as you make your music purchases, or illegal downloads that hurt the artists this year.