Sunday, February 11, 2007

Al Gore, James Brown, Dixie Chicks, John Legend

This has turned out to be one of the strangest Grammy Awards event your blogstress has ever seen. Has a former vice president of the United States -- and winner of a stolen presidential election -- ever before present a Grammy? Seeing Al Gore up there, standing next to Queen Latifah, presenting the "Best Rock Album" award to Red Hot Chili Peppers (once known for wearing nothing but a single tube sock, encasing an appendage a bit north of the foot, on stage) was one of those moments of absurdity that seem to be breaking out all over these days.

While Mary J. Blige and Justin Timberlake had been given every reason to believe the evening was all about them -- they were relentlessly onstage -- the event turned out to be about the war. John Legend's song, "Coming Home," performed with the underappreciated Corinne Bailey Rae (who should have come away with one of the big awards for her extraordinary debut album) and the gifted John Mayer, seemed to set the stage for the strains of protest to come.

Ludacris did that amazing piece, Runaway Love with Madam Blige; it's really a
protest of family violence and addiction.

The biggest winners were the Dixie Chicks, whose lead singer, Natalie Maines, got the group kicked off country-music radio in 2003 when she told a British audience that she was ashamed of President Bush.

For their anthem of defiance, "Not Ready To Make Nice," the Chicks won "Song of the Year." They never did back down from those remarks, and this, and the two other wins they enjoyed tonight, were likely based as much on sentiment as on appreciation of their music. Natalie Maines, most graciously said as much, when she acknowledged the great talents against whom her group competed, and said, "I think people here tonight were exercising their freedom of speech..."

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