Monday, February 14, 2005

Grammys 101; history repeating itself

Grammys 101
If you record a high profile album and release it right after your death, you have a good chance to win. That was the lesson provided by the late Ray Charles, who picked up a leading eight Grammys on Sunday, Feb. 13. Was his recent duets album, "Genius Loves Company," the best work of his career? You know the answer to that; he was great all along and should have been recognized with this kind of acclaim decades ago.

Ray Charles' songs, including classics such as "Hit the Road Jack," as well as recent recordings such as "Here We Go Again" (a duet with Norah Jones that won best pop collaboration with vocals and record of the year on Sunday), provide another lesson. How hungry we are to embrace music that is lasting.

Does anyone really believe that fellow winners such as Usher, Tim McGraw and Kanye West will be celebrated when they are 73 years old? I doubt many will even know who they are. Alicia Keyes, armed with a powerful but undistinctive voice and the ability to play the piano, won big a few years back in the wake of her debut "Songs in A Minor." She extended her 15 minutes of fame on Sunday night, but I seriously doubt discerning listeners will be spinning "My Boo" 25 years from now.

Another question to ponder in the wake of this year's Grammys...
there was talk about Kanye West being upset for losing out in the best new artist category to Maroon 5 (at least it looked like that on TV). Not that I care much about Maroon 5 either, but why no shock about Brian Wilson (as in Beach Boys) never earning a single Grammy after crafting some of the most timeless and influential music until he picked one up for best rock instrumental performance for "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow." More than 40 years after crafting the first of countless pop gems, he finally won - and for an instrumental? But what is a Grammy worth? After all, Britney Spears picked up her first Grammy as well. So Britney wins for "Toxic," while Brian Wilson was never recognized for a single Beach Boys recording. God only knows (that song didn't win either).

Another thought; here are a few of the winners they should have been put on television to perform; Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Steve Earle, Howard Shore (who deservedly won for his epic soundtrack "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"), Ozomatli and Etta James. U2 was the lone great performer of the night.

Remember when Fugees member Lauryn Hill scored five Grammys for her 1998 solo debut "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." When was the last time you heard the music, or anyone talk about it? Let that be a listen to us too...

On a related note, I saw the Finn Brothers perform an incredible show on Saturday night, Feb. 12, at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. Featuring songs off their 2004 album, "Everyone Is Here," they were incredible as was that album. Was that even nominated for a Grammy? If you want to hear great music, the Grammys seldom get it right.

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