The Grammys, Part One

We Lost, But I Got To See George Clinton As A Christmas Tree
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I made it all the way up until Lady Gaga came out of that fucking egg before I fell asleep on the couch. I am sorry that I missed the look on Justin Beiber’s face when he lost the best new artist award to some woman no one had ever heard of…it must have been a classic moment. I don’t know about you but his latest record just doesn’t have the depth of his first. As for Lady Gaga, can anyone really be considered a serious artist when they come out of a plastic egg looking like Madonna twenty years ago and Marilyn Monroe twenty years before that?

This was the first year in several that I actually tried to stay awake for the Grammy Awards. I mean, I am a child of the music business, or was at one time. I should try to keep up. My concession is reading about it, but please God, don’t make me listen to this shit. Am I the only one that thinks that there are too many fucking awards shows and most of them have “country music” in their titles? I would almost rather listen to Radiohead than any of these bozos with cowboy hats or big-haired women trying to sound tough enough to have sex with Roger Clemens’ limp dick. You know who you are…

My point: we have The Oscars, The Tony Awards, The Grammys, The Emmys…

Stop there, that is it. No more award shows. Please.

I shouldn’t sound like such an ingrate. I had my own Grammy moment and when I received the early morning phone call the day of the nominations, I think I shook the whole upper east side of Manhattan by jumping up and down. Scotty Moore & D. J. Fontana’s All the King’s Men CD was a labor of love and a two-year point of torture for a lot of people, much of my own doing. When the Grammy nomination 1998’s “Instrumental of the Year” for the track, “Goin’ Back To Memphis” recorded with the surviving members of Bill Black’s Combo, it was not only a surprise but a bit of vindication. Scotty and Bill, later with D. J. Fontana, played on all of Elvis’ greatest tunes and never received the pay or credit they deserved. A three decades late nomination with Bill’s band members after leaving the King was a real honor. We were sure winners just from the sympathy vote. Not only that, the song was pretty damned good. If Alison Kraus had not needed to add a thirteenth award to her collection, we would have gotten our own little gold grammaphones. But I digress…

My first move was to make sure I got a ticket to the awards show, the last held in NYC’s Radio City Music hall because Rudy Guiliani pissed someone at NARAS off enough to keep it in Callifornia for years to come. Scotty and D. J. both knew Ken Ehrlich, the long-time producer of the Grammys and many other awards shows so a call to his office guaranteed us good seats but mine cost me 600.00. Managers and producers did not get free tickets, just nominees, wives and concubines limited to two each. After purchasing my ticket I learned that the three attending members of the Bill Black Combo, Reggie Young, Ace Cannon and “Satch” Arnold, were not bringing wives and/or concubines so I could have scarffed a free ticket but we may not have gotten tenth row seats from Ken’s secretary who happened to be a big early Elvis fan.

While the Grammys are never known for controversy, 1998 was fraught with weirdness. First up, Vanessa Williams was the first presenter and must have been off her marked while walking onstage as a rising prop clipped her in the right boob and we were close enough to know that, wow, that had to hurt. She recovered quickly and started the evening with class. Class was soon thrown out the window when Bob Dylan was unceremoniously joined onstage by a shirtless guy with the words, “Soy Bomb” written on his chest with a Sharpie. As Mr. Zimmerman was singing surrounded by a bunch of ghetto kids, Soy Bomb guy looked like he was part of the act. Evidently the obviously very-pissed Bob was not amused.

I can’t recollect the exact order of things but when Shawn Colvin walked up to receive her record of the year award, Wu Tang Clan’s late loudmouth mouthpiece, Dirty Ol’ Bastard, walked toward the stage and made some comments about black people not being represented enough at the Grammys. I suppose Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, RuPaul and the “I Believe I Can Fly” guy didn’t count?

Speaking of Aretha. She was there to accept another lifetime achievement award but came in to save the day when Pavoratti bailed on singing an aria. I had gone to the bathroom and as I came back to my seat I heard one of the most angelic sounds and looked up to see Aretha singing before a 70-piece orchestra. Reportedly, she volunteered to stand in for Pavoratti with only one rehearsal. It truly sent chills down the spine of every music lover in the building and proved why she is not only the Queen of Soul but the Queen, period. A highlight of my bathroom trip was seeing George Clinton standing in the lobby dressed as a Christmas Tree. I guess he preferred to be seen instead of hearing Aretha singing in Italian.