I spent a good part of this weekend immersed in music. On Saturday, I traveled to Brooklyn to watch an array of indie bands and British folk-rock legend Iain Matthews play the late Gene Clark’s 1974 album No Other note for note at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Clark is best remembered for his days with The Byrds in the mid-1960s, but No Other was his masterpiece. I have written an article about the experience which I expect to be up on the main page tomorrow.
As I wrote the article last night, I had the TV tuned to the Grammys. I will say right now that nothing I heard on the telecast approached the quality of what I heard coming from that stage in Brooklyn.
With that said, I did enjoy some of the collaborations between young and old. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” sounds more interesting when backed by Chicago’s horn section. Thicke also did a fine vocal rendition of a medley of Chicago hits along with original member Robert Lamm – “Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?”, “Beginnings” and “Saturday in the Park.” Carole King and Sara Bareilles did a piano duet blending “Beautiful” and “Brave” into a seamless tapestry.
But the generations came together when Stevie Wonder joined the French house music duo Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers on “Get Lucky". At the end of the evening, Daft Punk would win Album of the Year for Random Access Memory. Daft Punk was joined onstage by Pharell, Rodgers and…Paul Williams. The man who wrote “Rainbow Connection” was the last person I expected to see on stage with Daft Punk.
If you didn’t grow up in the ‘70s, Paul Williams was everywhere – The Muppet Show, The Love Boat, Smokey & The Bandit. You couldn’t help but notice him with his short stature, long blond hair and distinctive glasses. And then he kind of disappeared. Apparently, Daft Punk asked Williams to write a couple of songs for them. It was good to see him back in the limelight.
It was also nice to see Ringo Starr sing “Photograph”. He would later join Paul McCartney onstage to play McCartney’s new single “Queenie Eye”. I know Paul would like a new hit, but I think most people would have preferred to see them perform a Beatles song. However, given that CBS will be airing a 50th anniversary tribute to the Fab Four next month I think that will soon come to pass.
I must say that I was impressed with Kacey Musgraves’ song “Follow Your Arrow”. Its lyrics made me think that this is the kind of song that Tammy Wynette might have written if she were still with us. Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park would go on to win the Grammy for Best Country Album.
Nevertheless, I’ll still take listening to Gene Clark over anything I heard at the Grammys. I might reassess that opinion if the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences invite Jake Bugg to next year’s Grammys.