Unlike as of yore when the Grammys partook of at least a degree of reflexive obeisance to actual grown-up music, those days are now apparently gone forever.
This year's Grammy nominations have just been announced and all the major categories consist of nothing but kid music(?) junk. Not even the bearable likes of a Steely Dan or James Taylor. And as for the jazz vocal category? Yawnsville!
A dark day for the few still-living and now gone-on founders of this once if not exactly noble institution, at least well-intentioned one.
The argument goes that these awards just reflect that to which the vox populi ("great unwashed" is more like it) is listening. Well if that's the case, then they should just close NARAS down, for it's only making an already bad situation worse.
Jazz pianist John Wood (son of Randy Wood, founder of Dot Records) sums up the problem quite succinctly in this excerpt from the liner notes to his CD "Drum Machines Have No Soul, v2":
"Did you ever see Elvis or the Beatles waiting for someone to tear open an envelope and say, 'And the winner is. . .?' Sorry, folks, it never happened. It never could have happened. Music suceeded on its own merit. It was about individualism and independence of thinking. It was about freedom. Had those artists gone on national television every 12 months and had their arms filled with trophies and then gone to a Pepsi commercial, they would have been neutered on the spot. They would have become a property of the state, the party or the corporation. No longer would they have been forces for social revolution, which they were."
So the story goes, the great Jack Paar once met Phil Donohue and told him how disappointed he was that the latter's talk show had increasingly taken the low road in terms of subject matter. Donohue equivocated that that was the price he had to pay to stay on the air. Jack retorted, "Well, a gentlemaan would have quit." Applicable here, I think. To reiterate, maybe it's time to close down the dump known as NARAS. "Sciences" maybe, but "Arts"?, forget it!
Now I must close, go to the garage and affix to old Bessie my "No More Music Award Shows" bumper sticker from John Wood's Society For the Rehumanization of American Music.
Whatever happened to standards? And I don't mean the Great American Songbook kind.