Springsteen, Scotch, and Dusty Mantels – My Grammy Awards Sob Story

Grammy AwardTonight (er, this morning), I want to pause and consider for a moment, this year’s Grammy nominations for best album.  I’m staying centered on that category because it is the crown jewel of the ceremony.  The other awards are nice, but, like winning best picture at the Oscars, the whole Grammy event builds up to best album.

And yes, I absolutely get that the Grammy awards, also like the Oscars, are not always (almost never) going to choose the albums that I think deserve to be nominated.  I’m okay with that.  BUT – I do have a problem with an obvious void in their list of album of the year winner.

What is Grammy’s problem with The Boss.

Now look, I know that Bruce Springsteen does not need an album of the year Grammy award to validate his career.  The man is legend and will forever be known as such.  I also understand that there are plenty of Rock & Roll legends who never tasted album of the year sweetness.  But that’s largely because The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (The Recording Academy) was afraid of Rock & Roll for about the first twenty to twenty-five years of its existence, kind of like rap and hip-hop (The Beatles were the exception to this in the sixties, but they were too big to ignore).   And yes, Mr. Springsteen (I think he’s earned that) has won more than his fair share of Grammy awards in other categories (twenty, to be exact.  I know – what am I whining about).  But that spot on his mantle reserved for Album of the Year remains empty (I’m making an assumption that there is a spot on his mantle reserved for this award.  I imagine him leaning against the mantle, glass of scotch in one hand, forehead resting on the empty, dust-covered spot, and slurring some angry obscenity at The Recording Academy before throwing his glass bitterly against the wall.  Okay, I’m pretty sure that has never happened, and he probably doesn’t have awards on his mantle, but it kind of makes me feel better).

Twice before, Springsteen has been nominated for album of the year.  In 1985, Born In The U.S.A. was up, but lost out to Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down.  I’m going to let that sink in for a minute…just a few seconds longer…that’s good.  The only solace that year was that he could share a scotch with Prince, whose Purple Rain also lost (the two of them, clinking glasses, sharing misery as Lionel Richie dances mockingly on the ceiling above them).

Then, in 2003, Springsteen was again nominated, this time for the album that absolutely should have filled the vacancy on his mantle, The Rising.  His competition that year?  The Dixie Chicks (not their time yet), Eminem (too scary for the academy), Nelly (album of the year?  Seriously?), and….Norah Jones.

Norah Freaking Jones.

The Rising was a response to the nightmare of 9/11, and it was crafted beautifully.  It struck absolutely the right tone for a wounded, trying to heal, America.  And he was absolutely the right artist to deliver it.  The title track was about as great an anthem as Springsteen, an artist who practically defines rock anthem, had ever written.  Springsteen winning album of the year  seemed as close to a sure thing as there has ever been.

But a strange thing started happening early on Grammy night, 2003.  Norah Jones started winning a lot of awards.  And then, her song “Don’t Know Why”, won Song of the Year, a songwriter’s award, over “The Rising”.  That should have been Springsteen’s award.  And at that moment, even before they went through the formalities of making the announcement, it was clear that The Boss was about to crack open another bottle of scotch following this ceremony.

Don’t get me wrong – Come Away With Me was a perfectly delightful album.  But album of the year?  No.  Not that year.  Speculation is that the nation was so emotionally devastated by the events of 9/11, that Come Away With Me sounded like a breath of fresh air at a time when stopping to breathe was needed.  That maybe explains some of the album’s commercial success, but it does not explain The Recording Academy’s complete whiff on this vote.  Maybe they were swayed by the public’s response to the album.  Maybe a lot of the voters were closet Ravi Shankar fans (the spray of scotch and glass covers the wall and surrounding floor after Springsteen hurls his glass across the room.  His dog, Tramp, whimpers as it runs out the door).

So we fast forward to the end of 2012.  The Recording Academy is about to announce its nominations for the 2013 Grammy Awards.  It has already been announced that MusiCares, the benevolence and aid giving branch of The Grammys, has made Bruce Springsteen its person of the year (which is kind of cooler than the album of the year award, anyway).  Coincidently, this comes in a year when The Boss has delivered Wrecking Ball, his most acclaimed album since The Rising.  It feels likely he will again be nominated for album of the year, maybe this time finally getting what he should have received ten years earlier.  It would be appropriate.  It wouldn’t just be a handout.  Wrecking Ball is worthy.

Ladies and gentleman, your 2013 nominees for Grammy Album of the Year are:

El Camino by The Black Keys

Some Nights by Fun.

Babel by Mumford & Sons

Channel Orange by Frank Ocean

Blunderbuss by Jack White

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I get that my favorite albums are not always going to be the five albums that get nominated.  Truthfully, I think this is a pretty good collection of five albums.  I personally find The Black Keys to be overrated, but I get them.  I think Some Nights was a distinctly good “album”, worthy of this category, though it always sounded a little like the cast of Glee after too much drinking (“Hey, where does Springsteen hide the scotch?”).  Mumford & Sons should have received this nomination last year, for the superior Sigh No More.  Frank Ocean has kind of exploded onto the soul/R&B scene with this honest, well crafted album.  And Jack White deserves to be in this category.

In fact, I don’t really have a problem with any of these albums being nominated.  I just have a problem with Springsteen being omitted.  Because he shouldn’t have been.  Wrecking Ball is just as good (and in my opinion, better) than the above five albums.  And in a year when Springsteen is being honored for his humanitarian efforts, how could the academy miss the opportunity to also reward him, justly, for his artistic craft?  It’s a big miss.  The Recording Academy was wrong.  And I know that’s just my opinion, and there are many among my tens of readers who will disagree with me.  But you’re wrong, too.  I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.

I won’t lose sleep over this.  And I know Springsteen won’t either.  Despite my scotch soaked fantasies, I feel pretty confident that he just isn’t like that.  And it’s that big picture thinking that is part of the appeal he has for me, among so many other things.  And even though the tone of this post is intended to be mostly tongue-in-cheek,  the fan in me really wants to see him get the album of the year award someday, because I believe he has earned it at least two or three times in his career.  I will likely watch the Grammy show in February.  And I will not be making any scotch runs to Ernie’s Liquors.  And I’m sure Springsteen won’t either.

So I challenge each of us to dig deep and try to be better people in 2013.  He won’t win album of the year, but Bruce Springsteen is MusiCares Person of the Year because of who he is off the stage and out of the studio.  That is something to be proud of, and something for a fan to look up to and model.  And for that honor, let’s raise a glass to The Boss!

Hmm.  Looks like I’ll need to make that liquor run after all.


~ by themattmorrisshow on January 4, 2013.

3 Responses to “Springsteen, Scotch, and Dusty Mantels – My Grammy Awards Sob Story”

  1. Reblogged this on Bored American Tribune. and commented:
    Great read, and I’m kind of shocked that neither Born to Run or Nebraska were recognized for Album of the Year. Nebraska, too. — J.W.

  2. ** The River, not Nebraska…twice.

  3. Thanks for the repost, J.W. And I agree. Springsteen’s first ten years fell in that “we don’t really know what to do with rockers” era for The Recording Academy. It’s too bad.

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