Thursday, February 09, 2006

devils & dust

i do not much care for bruce springsteen. never have. back where i grew up, he is worshipped as a god. one of my own sisters absolutely adores him. but i've just never bought his whole nobility-of-the-working-man shtick. (i'm more a "salt of the earth" gal, myself.) it seems kind of affected. plus, i don't dig his songs or his voice.

all of that said, bruce springsteen pretty much singlehandedly redeemed the music business's annual orgy of self-congratulation (i.e., the grammy awards) last night, not with some glitzy, overwrought production number, but with a simple, passionate solo performance of his tune "devils & dust." at first i was grudgingly paying attention -- yeah, yeah, sober, images of war, lonely vigilance, blah blah -- but then came the chorus:

i got god on my side
i'm just trying to survive
what if what you do to survive
kills the things you love
fear's a powerful thing
it can turn your heart black you can trust
it'll take your god-filled soul
and fill it with devils and dust

now, that's a sentiment for our times, if ever there was one. rather more resonant than, perhaps, "i ain't sayin' she's a gold digga/but she ain't messin' with no broke nigga." (and how come they can't say "nigga" on the grammys, but they can say "ho"? oh, wait -- i know why: BECAUSE BITCHES DON'T MATTER!)

anyway, springsteen sang on, a light in shadow, the imagery of his words coalescing into visions of blood drying on battlefields and mud and bones and dreams and triggers and faith. at the end, he croaked "bring 'em home!" and then disappeared into the darkness behind his spotlight. he needn't have said that -- the message was already clear, not to mention more subtle and universal, and therefore enduring, than any mere slogan.

as for the rest of the grammys. forget the seahawks -- kanye west wuz robbed! admittedly, i truly despite boner. i hate his stupid goggles and his stupid cowboy hat and his stupid sense of self-righteous weenie-ness. but i never hate him more than when he is actually speaking. what he said about the effects of his dad's death, after they won, uh, song of the year, i think, was ok. but his smarmy patter when they won album of the year (for a collection i thought was, like, three years old, but that's just 'cause all u2 sounds basically the same, except for their good singles, of which there are many, and even they often sound alike) -- blathering on about how kanye's day would come, metaphorically smooching gwen stefani's ass (actually rather less nauseating than the picture of him worshipping her pregnant belly, ew!), kowtowing to mccartney, and blah blah blah, oh-we're-not-WORTHY! ugh. just fucking thank god already and get off the damn stage, ya poseur.

other moments of ignominy: alicia keys harmonizing with stevie wonder, in the wrong key; xtina's horrid overwrought turn as, apparently, a lounge singer at the ramada inn by the freeway (a real shame, since the girl has vocal talent; but she needs someone to teach her how to sing); the "uh-huh, uh-huhs" added by (i think) jay-z (or maybe the linkin park guy) in between the lines as mccartney sang "yesterday" (ooo, yeah, that really added sumthin'!); and, shame of shames, the pathetically truncated "tribute" to new orleans that segued from actual nola classic "yes we can can" into, inexplicably, sam cooke singing "in the midnight hour" -- neither of which has anything to do with new orleans! i mean, grammy honcho neil portnow gets up there and delivers an actual heartfelt speech about the tragedy and how we need to support mardi gras and yada yada, and then the official grammy love shown to the city's music lasts maybe two minutes, b/c they apparently wanted to piggyback a tribute to the late wilson pickett on the same number? ugh.

and the sly stone appearance was just weird ... as expected, i suppose. i mean, he just kind of walked away in the middle of his number, leaving a stageful of modern-day pop heroes going, "how do we end this?" ironically, it probably went better than they'd hoped. gonna take you higher, indeed.

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