Why the Grammys Stink

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Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 8:37 AM

click to enlarge Illegal photo from inside the press room before the show started - REBECCA HAITHCOAT
  • Rebecca Haithcoat
  • Illegal photo from inside the press room before the show started
See also:

*2012 Grammys: The Best, the Worst and the Weirdest

*Deadmau5, Rihanna - House of Blues - 2/13/12

*Dan Wilson: From "Closing Time" to Adele's "Someone Like You"

So, our Grammy credentials were fairly limited last night. In fact, we were trapped in a room for eight hours, with journalists from all over the world sitting at long black tables staring at screens. Official handlers begged us to ask questions to folks nominated for categories like Best Surround Sound Album, Best Recording Package and Best Album Notes.

The pre-telecast ceremony started at 1 pm, with all the poor bastards who weren't considered worthy of being on screen. The Larry Batiste Orchestra led the way with a jazzy joyful number that would have delighted grannies everywhere. Everyone was very dapper despite the fact that the only ones who would see this are their moms and us; even the hosts compared this part of the program to speed dating. Winners had a couple of minutes to run up to the stage and give a speech before being whisked away. "You should try listening to my record," said the poor man who won the Surround Sound Grammy for Eric Clapton's "Layla." "It's pretty great."

click to enlarge The outside tent after the party was over. - REBECCA HAITHCOAT
  • Rebecca Haithcoat
  • The outside tent after the party was over.
But the best part was getting to ask people about their music; it humanized an otherwise completely mechanical process. Adam Machado won Best Album Notes for Hear Me Howling! Blues Ballads and Beyond As Recorded by The San Francisco Bay by Chris Strachwitz in the 1960s. He told a story about a man named Stanley Willis, who was considered the Thelonious Monk of the piano in the Fillmore district in the 1960s. He would lay a cloth over his hands as he played so no one knew what he was doing. He then sold wrote an album called Wild Man Blues before disappearing into the wilds of Alaska selling magic carpet cleaners.

Contemporary Christian Music Song winner Laura Story won for her song "Blessings," about coming to grips with her husband's brain tumor and struggling with her faith. One of the producers of Adele's smash album, Ryan Tedder, said he really wants to work with Azealia Banks and Lana Del Rey because it scares him. A presenter's music teacher from Nashville who nominated him for the Grammy Youth Jazz Choir when he was 15 talked about the importance of music education in schools.

What this is all about is how music touches people, after all -- not the award ceremony itself. The Grammys are just a tool to sell records. They're about who did well this year, who sold well and how can we push them to sell more. No, the only really interesting part of the Grammys is watching the artists become human before our eyes. Whether it's Taylor Swift explaining that there's nothing like writing a song about someone who's mean to you or Dave Grohl talking about making the latest record in his garage with permission from his wife or John Paul White of the Civil Wars talking about leaving his four kids to go on the road.

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