When I talk about the Grammy Awards, I refer to Ken Ehrlich’s book At the Grammys: Behind the Scenes at Music’s Greatest Night quite a bit. The show producer’s recap of three decades worth of ceremonies is quite an interesting read. Excellently reverent in spots (he obviously has a hard on for certain artists like Bonnie Raitt and Melissa Etheridge) and delightfully bitchy in others (not a fan of Britney Spears…or Usher…or obnoxious former NARAS president Michael Greene), I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who loves music.
Anyhow, I digress. A big thing for Ehrlich is creating a “Grammy moment”, something that will get people talking at the water cooler or scrambling for clips on YouTube for the next day, or the next several days. The need for a “moment” seems to have grown over the past few years-or at least it’s morphed from being a solid musical number or a surprise collaboration into a publicity stunt (the J. Lo dress coming to mind first), and as you can probably surmise if you’re a regular reader, I don’t find that to be too cool.
Anyhow, this particular moment is a fun run through The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There”, performed during a segment celebrating the 40 year anniversary of The Fabs arriving on American shores. The performers were Vince Gill and Dave Matthews on guitar, Sting on bass, and Pharrell Williams on drums. The first three artists appear to be having a good time (something that must be difficult for Sting these days in light of all that being ridiculously pretentious) while Pharrell (whose drumming skills I was unaware of prior to watching this live) looks like he was forced to do this performance at gunpoint-or maybe he was just concentrating hard. At any rate, this performance captures the raw (and imperfect) vibe that makes shows like this so good. There are bum notes, sure, but it’s great to see four disparate artists coming together to pay tribute to the most iconic band in music history.