This is our first foray into current events in Growing Old With Rock & Roll, largely because I haven’t seen any concerts or shows yet this year, or bought any good records. Participants are my lovely wife Debbie and my good friend Kyle Garabadian, who, in the words of Hamell On Trial, "knows a fuckload of shit about rock & roll." Sound credentials.
8:01 pm – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band open the festivities with a new tune, "We Take Care Of Our Own." Given my natural cynicism, I fully realize this is a ploy by CBS to hook aging baby boomers like myself into the telecast, but I really don’t care. Bruce and the band are great, they don’t play "Born To Run" or another retread hit (as Pete Townshend would undoubtedly have done, given the current moldy oldies act that The Who have become), I’m perfectly happy. I notice that Clarence Clemons’ old stage position has been taken over by bassist Gary W. Tallent. This seems like a sound tactic. For long-standing E Street band diehards, there is no way Bruce can simply replace Clarence with another player. Kyle relates that word is the band will take an entire horn SECTION on the road with them this spring, therefore making an end run around cheapening the hallowed saxophone spot. Bruce Springsteen did not just fall off a turnip truck into rock & roll, ladies & gentlemen.
8:07 pm - Lady Gaga is shown in the audience sporting a veil very much like the ones my sainted Italian mother wore to Mass and novenas at St. Aloysius in the 1960's. Who knew my Mom was so fashion-forward and ahead of her time?
8:11 pm – Initially I think that Bruno Mars and his band are channeling any number of old Prince videos, then realize they’re going all the way back to James Brown, whom Bruno acknowledges during the number, a fact I’m enormously heartened by and which may help change my opinion of Mars.
8:26 pm – Chris Brown slaps around both Rihanna AND Chris Martin of Coldplay during his dance routine before being bitch-slapped and laid low by Gwyneth Paltrow. (Kyle’s comment about Brown's performance, "Since when does everybody have a Garth Brooks headset to sing into?") (ps. I do not believe for one nanosecond Brown was actually SINGING during his little 21st century Gene Kelly routine.) (Later in the evening Debbie wonders aloud how much tape both Rihanna and Gwyneth employed to keep their dresses in place.)
8:36 pm – Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas takes the stage as an award presenter in a dress designed to hide her now de rigueur onstage catheter.
8:47 pm – Dave Grohl (rocking a Slayer t-shirt) proves himself the luckiest drummer ever on the planet, for having his lead singer die and leaving a hard rock/alternative hole he could fill with The Foo Fighters. (ps. I genuinely LIKE The Foo Fighters but every one of their songs is two minutes too long.)
8:57 pm – Quote from Debbie, "Oh, that wasn’t Rihanna’s backstage warm-up outfit, that’s her ONSTAGE outfit." (Later, of course, she loses the ragged vest to reveal something appropriately clingy and revealing underneath. This IS, after all, modern R&B.) Kyle is gratified to see that Rihanna has made it to the Grammy festivities this year sans black eyes. Kyle further suggests that we make every gratuitous mention of "Whitney" during the artists’ performances a drinking game, even though we’re all only drinking pop. (Or, in Debbie’s Jersey girl vernacular, soda.)
9:17 pm – Maroon 5 kicks off The Beach Boys tribute. Please God, take me now. Lord, bring me to your kingdom. Kyle’s comment, "I’m so glad Whitney Houston didn’t live to see this."
9:23 pm – Mike Love falls down onstage, breaks a hip and the vaunted Beach Boys reunion comes to a mercifully quick end.
9:41 pm – Taylor Swift dresses down, decks her band out in Depression-era duds, rocks a banjo at punk-guitar just above the knee-level and I still love every second.
10:11 pm – The Grammys promise to return after a commercial break with a "loving" tribute to Glen Campbell. What, as opposed to a hateful tribute?
10:35 pm – Bon Iver wins Best New Artist award and delivers his acceptance speech sporting the WORST haircut I have ever seen in what nowadays passes for rock & roll. In the immortal words of David Minehan of The Neighborhoods: "Today’s bands are like a school of fish / When I see a star I’ll make my wish." This means you, Mumford & Sons.
10:57 pm – Deadmau5 appears, Walt Disney stirs in his cryogenic chamber and commences several lawsuits.
11:05 pm – Nicki Minaj’s performance makes me fervently wish I’d joined Whitney Houston in that Beverly Hills Hilton bathtub. (ps. You think Catholic bishops currently have a problem with President Obama? Wait’ll they get a load of Nicki’s stage act.)
11:24 pm – Paul McCartney ends the Grammys as Bruce Springsteen began them; warming this baby boomer’s heart by NOT rocking a heard-one-hundred-thousand-million-times-on-classic-rock-and-oldies-radio Beatles tune but instead choosing the last section of the concluding Abbey Road medley. Just before New Year's I roadied a show my friend Joe Peppercorn mounted, wherein he and a crack band he assembled for the night played every Beatles album in order, in a row, WITH NO BREAKS! It was grueling, monstrously difficult, ambitious and lovely. It also gave me a whole new appreciation of The Beatles’ canon and especially of the Abbey Road medley. Thank you, Sir Paul, for not finishing with "Let It Be."
postscript; Oh yeah, Adele’s 21 record sold millions of copies this year and won all the Grammy Awards, perhaps suggesting that people just might want to hear real songs about true emotions sung by actual human beings who do not rise and fall by the machinations of Auto-Tune.
© 2012 Ricki C.