The 2012 Grammys

Okay. I love music. Almost all music. Always have. I made my living in music
for 43 years. Doesn’t mean I know a lot about it – it does mean that I care about it…
a lot.

I’m watching the Grammys. I can’t believe what I’m seeing,,, or hearing. The
Grammys is about music, right? The best music of the past year? Or… is it simply
the most successful, moneymaking music of the past year? The two are often
mutually exclusive, you know.

The first 45 minutes featured only two or three awards, the rest of the time was
spent entertaining us. entertaining us with songs that never once played more
than five chords in the entire 45 minutes. The Foo Fighters live song had more
chords in it than that first 45 minutes of entertainment. So I was listening for
lyric content, not being very happy with the banal musical attempts the Grammys
thought we would be Ga Ga for. And what did I hear? Par – par – par – par – paradise…
ooh oh, ooh oh, ooh ooh; Par – par – par – par – paradise… ooh, oh, ooh oh, ooh, oh…
Well.  I tuned in, thinking I’d be hearing some of the best music produced in the world.
Evidently I missed something. Oh, I listened…

45 minutes in, the Foo Fighters did their live hit, and I felt the show lifted a bit. Did you
hear the lead singer of the Foo’s acceptance speech? The part when he said the
music has to come from here, and here…
Then the next 30 minutes nosedived (to me) again. I saw a bunch of strange hairdos, goofy
clothes and record company attempts to make marketable moneymakers out of
mediocre talents that looked… um, different.

Yes, I’m in my late 60’s. So maybe I shouldn’t be able to relate to the “new music.”
Wait… really? I’m a jazzer. I and my jazz cohorts know exactly how high and how low
music can take one, when it’s good… really good. It might not be quite fair to tell me
I don’t relate to the new music just because I’m old. When did I lose the ability to
perceive quality? Especially in music…

Well, of course I loved the Beach Boys. Loved them the first time around, loved them
tonight. Stevie Wonder is a class act. Paul McCartney is a class act. Yes, they’ve
been around forever, and why wouldn’t I relate to them? But we’re still talking about
music here… supposedly great music. I thought it was a great example for the world
to see how radically, ridiculously our concept of good music has changed over the
past 30 years. That first 45 minutes, I kept thinking, “Well, if I were a great dancer, and
could sing a little bit, with the help of deep, expensive electronics, then hell… maybe
I could be a star too, and win an Grammy…” Sure, I’d have to lose 30 pounds and
50 years, but aside from that…

I’ll just say this… if I had Bruno Mars’ hair, I’d be a star without singing a note.

Glad Adele won. She has a killer voice, and is a terrific song writer, who writes about
her life, her experiences… songs that her huge fan base can relate to. Which is what
music started out to do in the first place.

There was a lyric I really liked in the first hour. “I don’t just want to make love, I want to
make love last.” Excellent. Would’ve loved to hear much, much more on that level.

I know entertainment has changed, on tv, in our lives, everywhere. and, once again
showing my age, I am so sad tonight that huge background fires and stunningly blue
hair and over-the-top costumes are needed to sell “good music.”

You know, I don’t like most critics. I don’t like to read critical reviews about movies,
plays, books, art displays……….. or music. They always sound pompous, pretentious
and self-indulgent. And now I do, too. Guess the lesson for me here is that when one
feels strongly about what they think they know something about, they put it out there
with their hearts. it’s the “feeling strongly” about  a review that leaves us feeling that
the reviewer is opinionated. And why not? Of course they are opinionated… it’s their
opinion they’re sharing with us… an opinion laced with passion for the subject. And
that’s what I’m sharing with you now… just so you know.

By the way, there were  seven chords in the last song Adele sang… two more than
the show’s entertainment played in the first 45 minutes. Keep in mind that she’s
a singer first, then a songwriter. Even better, her band and her background vocals were
all live. The crowd loved her. And I’m glad for that. Hell, she got a standing O….

I thought the Glen Campbell tribute was appropriate, but why not also acknowledge
the writer of ‘Gentle On my Mind” – John Hartford. Glen had that hit because John first
wrote the song. Did the Grammy committee think that wasn’t important??

Thank god Bonnie Rait honored Etta James’ death. Was she any less than Whitney
Houston? Was she?? What are people thinking out there? My friends, I’m thinking
here, as I listen to yet another tribute to Whitney “I Will Always Love You” that there
is no reason I can find that fame should put one person above another… it’s deeds,
not our perception or love of that person, that should finally measure a star…..
and each of us. It has to be deeds… and only deeds.

I will not flame out like this again. it’s a rare time, when I love music so much, and
am trying to stay current in what our country thinks is award-worthy.
Mine is probably an old, sad concept of what I wish music could still be. I admit it.
And I liked the last Chris Brown song. It was creative, very well-produced, steam
and all… 4 chords and all.

And finally, there was Neil portnow’s moving music speech – the gist of it being
that the Grammy Foundation is throwing money at young musicians to make more
music like ….. this? Searching frantically for a positive note here, I found the animated
mouse ‘interesting’ – And how about Nicki Minaj?? Huge production, more steam and fire,
electronic drums, electronic track & vocals… and 4 chords.

Okay, I’m stoked. Record of the year…. I can’t wait. Well, it was Adele. “Rolling In The
Deep.” I don’t know. It’s a good song,  a great performance and production. At this point
in the show I have no idea whether they’re trying to do what they secretly know is right,
or whether they decided to pay lip service to real music, knowing this might well be
the last year that real music really needs to be dealt with on any important level.

Album of the year, Adele. What a breath of fresh air. Good for her.
And then Sir Paul… “Once there was a way to get back homeward, once there was
a way to get back home…”
And then, “Sleep little darlin’ do not cry, and i will sing a lullaby.”
Thank you, Sir Paul, from the bottom of my heart. So glad I’m old enough to see,
and enjoy your magical mystery run of music and of life. Curious, how my two
fave artists this year on the Grammys are both from Jolly Old…

Growing old is hard. It just is. And yet, at the same time, we’ve made it this far,
after all, and shouldn’t we be appreciative of that? I think so. Appreciative that
we heard Sir Paul and the Beatles when Ed Sullivan was calling them “Those
lovable mop-tops from across the pond…” that we got to sit at a bar years ago,
nursing a warm beer and a love lost, while Etta James sang our hearts to us
on the juke box in the corner… that we got to watch a Super Bowl maybe 15
years ago, and when Whitney sang “The Star Spangled Banner” on the field,
I was all teared up, thinking, “Now THAT’S the Star-Spangled Banner!!”

Well, it was different, to be sure. it was disappointing, and it was a trip back
in time. At this moment, tonight, I am so confused as to what I perceive that
people in this country think music really is today… it actually hurts me.
I don’t pretend to know what others should like, I don’t pretend to think I could
ever force my concept of quality in music on anyone else. I write this tonight
because I live in a country where I CAN write this, and because it’s a cry
in the wilderness for sanity, for purity of intent, for engagement of principals
in our art forms, for ethics in our media presentations. Have we gone too far?
Is quality music fast becoming a relic of the past? Or have I simply lost touch
with “what is sick,'” and “what is now…”

I guess it wasn’t a bad show. I cringed in disbelief, I sufferer through the
4-chord dysfunctional repetitive babble. I smiled and shed a few tears…
I guess it wasn’t a bad show. I’m going to crawl into bed now, and try to
remember when Tony Bennett could really belt one… when Etta James
soothed my young, aching heart, when the Beach Boys sang “Good
Vibrations”  and when the Beatles sang “Yesterday, love was such
an easy game to play.” Yes, it’s time for bed, but I’m going to drift off
tonight, with a real melody in my head, and real lyrics…
“Sleep, little darlin; do not cry… and I will sing a lullaby.”

Steve Hulse

3 Replies to “The 2012 Grammys”

  1. Hi Uncle Steve,
    Long time no see/talk to. My brother Steve told me about your blog. Interesting stuff. I didn’t know that you had left Marietta. I don’t blame you. I agree with you about the music of today. Take care……Tim

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