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The bulk of Sunday's Grammy Awards ceremony took place after I'd fallen into a stupor – which typically happens each evening around dusk following the pudding course at dinner (and no pudding unless I finish all my peas!). However, my sainted wife, Eileen, who never sleeps, decided to tape a portion of the program she thought I'd enjoy.
This was the part where Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson took the stage to sing Jimmy Webb's immortal tune "The Highwayman." Kris and Willie, of course, are the surviving members of a quartet called the Highwaymen, named in honor of the tune, and their fallen comrades are Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.
(Note: if you're inclined to do the "super group" thing, it's hard to conceptually top Nelson, Jennings, Cash and Kristofferson. Think about that when you contemplate reforming, West, Bruce & Laing!)
Anyway, after singing the first two verses of "The Highwayman," Kristofferson and Nelson were joined onstage by Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton, and they all headed off on a sonic romp through "Okie from Muskogee" (which would not have been my choice of a Hag tune) and "Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," the Ed Bruce song Willie and Waylon took to #1 back in 1978 or so.
I felt a little taken aback by Shelton's presence with these warriors considering he made a recent comment about "old farts around Nashville" that deeply offended the since-deceased Ray Price — who was a close pal of everyone else on that Grammy stage.
I suspect Shelton wasn't referring to any of those elder statesmen when he made his statement, including Price, but it still struck me as sorta awkward. On the other hand, Shelton delivers an authentic brand of C&W, and he blended just fine with Hag and Willie and Kris.
As it turns out, Eileen had somehow recorded the entire program, so we actually watched a good bit of it despite my generally sour thoughts on the Grammys and their little telecasts. As in, "Hey, Grammy! Give me a shout when you book Jason Isbell to perform instead of one of those Bieber or Will.I.Am goofs. (BTW, the brilliant Isbell song linked was not nominated. Big surprise.)
BUT … to my surprise, there was some fun and/or provocative stuff that happened on the show. Quite a bit, in fact. For example:
-- Nile Rodgers, Pharell Williams and Stevie Wonder individually and collectively kicked righteous ass on Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" – and, yes, the Helmeted Wonders joined in mid-song. Greatness – and who better than Rodgers to play that rhythm line? Daft Punk's Random Access Memories was indeed one of the best albums of last year, so good for them as they cleaned up.
-- Paul McCartney was joined by Ringo Starr – and two members of Macca's excellent touring band – for a rousing version of "Queenie Eye" from his latest album. Can't say I'm (maybe) amazed at how fabulous this song is, because it is McCartney we're talking about. But think about the last time the Stones, for example, wrote a good new song.
-- Metallica played "One" with classical pianist Lang Lang. Yeah, some of the pairings and collaborations on awards shows have the distinct reek of "trying too hard to be weird," but this worked. It looked as though Lang Lang particularly dug it, as when the tune kicked into overdrive for the last section. Not sure Lang Lang is very familiar with Jerry Lee Lewis, but I suspect he'd now believe it's a great deal of fun to be The Killer.
-- Oh, and local babe Taylor Swift! She needs to learn a valuable lesson from the hair-swirling metal dudes of yore, many of whom are now walking around with steel rods fused to their spines. During her otherwise fine performance of "All Too Well" -- which I predict Swift will play on our Live Lunch Break show before the end of the year -- the Watch Hill resident threw her neck around in rag-doll fashion. Keep it up, TS, and, a few years from now, you'll need an appointment with Peyton Manning's surgeon.
-- Finally – and most laughably – who obtained permission from the cemetery to exhume Madonna?