Monday, February 14, 2011

But I Try and I Try

This year's Grammy awards had something for any musical taste. Too bad we didn't get to see some of the more "esoteric" categories, or even hear the results. But with CBS at the helm, it was more an entertainment extravaganza than an awards show. I think the show was on for an hour before the second award of the night was presented.
As expected, the dress code is wide open and many of the winners actually performed right before their names were called. For me it was all about the new and the old. I've been trying to help some folks my age explain to a genuinely curious young man, why Bob Dylan is so revered. You'll never get a clue from his voice today or even most of his performances. History lessons are required to deal with this subject. Fortunately Martin Scorsese's film No Direction Home will do the job well. One Facebook thread I've been following has whittled itself down to people from all over the country sharing their favorite Dylan lyrics. Seems to be making an impact on this young man. He had only to ask.
Of course a 67 year-old Mick Jagger strutting out a tribute to the late Solomon Burke was a thing of beauty. People in that crowd had a sense that seeing Mick's first Grammy performance, ever, was something to cherish. He's still soulful, full of energy, and knows how to work the crowd year after year. Satisfaction.
Watching musicians age is poignant. We grow up and we grow wise with the music of our time. As our favorites age and pass on we lose a little something of ourselves. But the music remains. It always remains. We may have to change the way we access our music, but it will always be there. So many people I know are figuring out how to "do music" these days. As soon as they got comfortable with CDs, I Pods came along. Some of us don't want the computer to be our key hole to everything we do. It might be inevitable, eventually, but right now we still have choices.

Probably the most satisfying thing from Grammy night came near the end with the announcement of "Best New Artist." No mass selling pop star this time. A beautiful Jazz bassist/vocalist from Portland took the big prize. Surprise, Surprise Surprise. Esperanza Spalding is on the brink of a huge career. She gave the Academy the opportunity to award talent and originality and they did just that. The little girl that saw Yo Yo Ma on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and decided she wanted to play a "violin" (she called the cello a violin at age 5) will inspire millions. Don't know if a shocker this big will ever happen again. What is clear is that right now more than a few 18 year olds are reinventing themselves. They are planning colorful costumes and the logistics of arriving in giant eggs or hanging from and ultimately dropping from the sky. It can't be helped. But for now, there is quite a bit of satisfaction blowin' in the wind.

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