Grammy Thoughts


By Art Menius for artmenius.com February 12, 2012

My first Grammy Awards as a lapsed NARAS member after more than a score of watching my people not win reaffirmed my decision. The categories that mattered most to me as voter came and went seemingly in a flash on the Internet only program that Steve Martin called the “daytime Grammys” in a Tweet. Adding NFL players and hot starlets to the presenters does not support any claims to artistic merit in the choices.

Levon Helm, for whom the word “veteran” would short his career by 25 years, won for Best Americana Recording. Thus the great Linda Chorney scare of 2012 was averted without resorting to nuclear weapons. File that under soon to be forgotten controversies.

40% of the Best Rock Song nominees have a banjo in the band. How 2012! The Decemberists and Mumford & Son. Then Taylor Swift pulls out an open-back five-string banjo and an old-time band for her otherwise typical Taylor Swift song. The imagery alone is powerful – popular, young country star with a banjo in her hands in one of her three or four most important appearances of the year.

Also, she demonstrated that one can put on “big show” using those instruments and those images on the big stage that proved way more successful than Nicki Manji, when the latter provided the show’s low point.

Even if bluegrass and Americana along with the single blues category and the regional polyglot concoction into which “my” categories disappeared are exiled to the Internet broadcast, banjo fever continues unabated.

Banjo congrats to Bela Fleck for the Best Instrumental Recording award.

More banjo in the Glen Campbell tribute by, I think, Glen’s daughter. Might be the last Grammy telecast for “Gentle On My Mind.” Hartford’s song has a had a great run. Same for Glen Campbell. Certainly moving for him to have one last moment in the spotlight while he can still do it and enjoy it. “Rhinestone Cowboy” certainly proves appropriate. The last single my dad ever bought at age 59. I did hear that “where do I go or do I just shut up” at the end.

Think Taylor will ever catch Alison in total Grammys won?

Poor Brian Wilson of the many chins. Sir Paul McCartney even ages better although Brian may have better realized his new music is not what turns the fans on.

Despite the hype, Adele can sing. She had better take care that voice this time around. Great that she covered a Steeldrivers’ song. Adele beats Bon Iver for Song of the Year, but at least the latter was nominated and the Best New Artist is a bit of consolation for him.

Hazel Dickens and her friend Warren Hellman of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass depicted together in the obits shows someone at NARAS is paying attention.

Great to see all of Alison Krauss & Union Station on hand to accept Best Bluegrass Recording and Steve Martin in the audience. With all the Grammys she has won and all the awards and success Martin has had, they could have easily phoned it in. That also demonstrates support for the category. New rules raising the minimum number of entries suggest the attack on the non-TV categories will continue.

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