So, what will likely be remembered about these 2013 Grammy ceremonies and awards? Judging from the past, not a lot. What is most remarkable every year is that the producers manage to take a huge mess of a multi-genre, multi-generational variety show and mash it all together into a good-looking and mildly entertaining spectacle for a wide audience.
Right now, I couldn’t tell you a single highlight from last year’s show or from the year before.
I can tell you what stood out this year, at least for me. There was the very moving and wildly rocking tribute to the late Levon Helm with Mavis Staples joining forces with Elton John, Zac Brown, T Bone Burnett and Mumford & Sons on “The Weight.” That’s one of the best-loved songs from one of the most-respected artists in the history of American music.
Two nights earlier, those same artists were joined by a host of others to pay tribute to Bruce Springsteen at the MusiCares charity show. Alabama Shakes were featured, as were Patti Smith, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney, Ben Harper, Natalie Maines, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young and John Legend. Springsteen followed with an impromptu concert of his own.
A huge reason why both of those tributes worked so well is simply due to the stature of those being honored. There aren’t many Springsteens and Helms anymore, and it doesn’t look like any more are coming anytime soon. So, Grammy, enjoy them while you have them. Where are the new voices of a generation? I didn’t hear them at this year’s Grammys. Poor Frank Ocean obviously isn’t one of them.
Unless the new voices might come from such talents as Mumford & Sons, who won a stunning victory for album of the year for Babel. The Mumfords have been a well-kept secret for quite some time now, so it’s good to see them get the attention they deserve.
There is another great singing voice that is going into retirement mode this year. George Jones, now 82, will hang up his touring shoes after his 2013 tour.
Finding young simpatico male singing voices with the traditional George Jones sound and sensibility in Nashville these days is not an easy thing. So for his farewell concert in Nashville this fall, he’s settled on a great choice to join him, Jamey Johnson, who is the most ideally-designated candidate to provide the classic Jones sentiment in such a song as “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes.”
Not coincidentally, there is a spectacular new reissue of wayback Jones radio singles, back when he had the buzzed-down, butch-waxed flattop hairdo. It’s the Complete United Artists Solo Singles, with 32 cuts spanning the years 1962-1966.
NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo.