During commercials while watching tonight's too-close-for-comfort Suns win over the Wizards, I flipped by the Grammys, just checking to see if anything interesting was happening.
And just once out of a dozen or so flipovers, something worthwhile was going on (that would be Beyonce and her wonderfully short skirt joining Tina Turner for a decent enough rendition of "Proud Mary").
I don't like the Grammys and I never really have. The only award I've bothered to follow is Best Contemporary Folk Album, which a shocking number of my favorites have won in the last decade or so (Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, John Prine, Warren Zevon, Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash). The award has become a sort of below-the-radar acknowledgment of who really deserves some props, or maybe a backdoor sort of lifetime achievement prize.
For me, mostly, the Grammy Awards show represents pretty much all that sucks about music and the entertainment industry that surrounds it. It's all show, no passion. It's all mainstream, no creativity. It's all popularity, no room for the fans who don't take their cues from ClearChannel radio. It missed the best and awards the mediocre-est. It's static, monied, unmemorable and mostly worthless. It's further behind the curve than music companies themselves.
And once in a while it's an open forum for some industry prick to attack the very fans who support the whole damn multibillion dollar boondoggle. I remember clearly when good ol' industry shill and recording academy president Michael Greene pulled out his ticket book to call all Internet fans of music criminals. Never mind the blindly accusatory tone that dick-hole took to the podium. I'll call him out on the absolutely blatant misrepresentation of the whole notion of downloading in his preaching. I can't believe that speech was so many years ago, and the "music" industry still hasn't taken step one toward getting its shit together in recognition of the shifts in technology.
Anyway... The one Grammy awards show I can clearly remember watching was 10 years ago, when I wandered across the street from my dorm to some long-since-closed restaurant to watch Bob Dylan take three Grammys (album of the year, best male rock vocal performance and best contemporary folk ablum [see?]) and perform in probably the strangest segments in Grammy history.
(Worth noting here is the fact that the same song that got "Soy-Bombed" was featured in a number of Victoria's Secret advertisements... a fact that makes the term "soy bomb" seem ever so much dirtier...)
So why did I even bother flipping over to the awards show during Suns commercials? For one moment, five years ago, when all the disdain that the Grammys have had for music fans like me washed away in a coup of rock n' roll brilliance.
With a shout of "This is for Joe!" from Bruce Springsteen, an unbelievably awesome group struck into The Clash's "London Calling" as a tribute to the great Joe Strummer, not even two months gone from this realm. Joining Springsteen were Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl and Miami Steve Van Zandt and I was blown away. If it was planned, I didn't know, so I just like to think that somehow that crew of musicians told the suits to fuck off and that they were gonna do a Strummer tribute, like it or not.
It was a great moment and a truly amazing performance because it was obvious that each of those dudes knew they were singing for Joe, singing like it mattered.
And so, no matter who won whatever tonight, or who won whatever whenever, I have a tiny bit of props for the Grammys because of that performance. Plus, I'm one of the very, very few music fans in my age group who say Grammy got it right picking Steely Dan's Two Against Nature over Radiohead's (overrated in every way) Kid A for album of the year in 2001 (though Beck's Midnight Vultures would've been my overall top choice).
So the music industry deserves maybe 1 percent attention during awards season, just in case somebody pulls out something as awesome as that Clash tribute.
Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl & Steven Van Zandt - London Calling (live Grammy 2003)