An Outsider's Inside View Of The Grammy Awards Part 3

Politics isn't music to my ears

Feb 01 2014

(Laura Ainsworth is a Dallas-based radio comedy writer whose parody songs were heard often on “The Mike Huckabee Show.” She’s also a serious jazz/standards singer who should have been nominated for a Grammy. Her music can be heard at or on Facebook.) 

For most of the week I was in LA, there was surprisingly little to be seen in the way of political expression. Out of the many thousands of cars that passed me on the freeways, I counted exactly two Obama bumper stickers (both on foreign cars, as is typical). One brave soul actually sported a “NO-bama” sticker and an American flag decal. And even though the California healthcare exchange hasn’t crashed and burned spectacularly, as other state exchanges have, I didn’t see any “I (heart) My Obamacare” stickers. It was all very low-key.

In conversation, too, there wasn’t much reference to politics --- certainly nothing overt. One person I briefly spoke with referred vaguely to “the negative atmosphere, you know, since the 2012 elections,” but that was about it. Though I didn’t hear any praise for Obama, I still had the sense that even mild criticism of him would have been unwelcome. Everybody was just REALLY QUIET about the whole thing.

That is, until Grammy night. If you watched on TV, you saw exactly what I saw in the arena: Queen Latifah, apparently ordained to perform weddings, marrying 33 couples, “gay and straight,” during the Grammy Awards. My first thought about this had absolutely nothing to do, pro or con, with the issue of gay marriage. It was: “They don’t have time on TV to give out awards for jazz or standards (or classical, bluegrass, Americana, reggae, Latin, gospel, children’s music or Broadway), but they have time for THIS??”

Gay (or “LGBT”) issues were in the spotlight on Grammy night because a hip-hop/rap duo named Macklemore & Lewis won multiple awards, including one for their album “The Heist,” which includes the song “Same Love,” which is about gay relationships. Got it? I do admire that a couple of independent artists made it all the way to big-time Grammy honors, but their wins turned Grammy night into something it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be about MUSIC. Instead of talking about music, we get a big gay wedding. If they really want to demonstrate inclusiveness, how about mentioning that there are other forms of music besides pop, rock, country and hip-hop?

We also get comments such as this, from Paul Williams that this was about “the power of love for all people at any time in any combination." Really?? Every single one of its possible combinations? It’s statements like this that make some people out in Middle America who are perfectly fine with two gay people living their lives together think, “Oh, dear, what Pandora’s Box are we opening?”

But this is an emotional appeal, not a logical one.

The elections of 2014 and 2016 should be about key issues such as our crushing $18 trillion debt, serious and perhaps irreversible encroachments on Constitutional freedoms, a healthcare system that’s in tatters, and whether or not Justin Bieber should be deported back to Canada (kidding). Instead, they threaten to be about women’s contraception, gay marriage, and traffic cones. Whoever can best steer the national conversation in the direction it needs to go is the one who will have my support.


After the awards ceremony, those of us going to the after-party were herded (once again, walking…walking…walking) through a loooooooong maze of tents, and a loooooooong security line, into an unbelievably huge and elaborate soiree. By then, even with an entire drugstore display of Dr. Scholl’s products on my feet, I was limping in my pretty-poison shoes and was most interested in finding a chair. The party was divided into two areas which, intentionally or not, mirrored the two Grammy events of the day: one smaller room with great jazz music, including my faves Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and the other an enormous tricked-up cavern with earsplitting hip-hop, acrobats flying around on wires (of course), lingerie models posing on a giant turntable, antique cars --- in general, much more of a visual feast. Beyonce and Jay-Z, Taylor Swift, and other superstars were no doubt at their own parties, but some of the nominees and even a few winners were at this one. In fact, Paul Williams, a genuine songwriting genius, even sat down next to me for a time, but we couldn’t hear each other. So we couldn’t even discuss his music or love in multiple combinations or anything.

Pat and I stayed over another night so we could attend another very special event --- the taping of a tribute to The Beatles that will air on the 50th anniversary of their American debut on “Ed Sullivan.” They’re calling it “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles.” First, there was a pre-show reception at the Grammy Museum; not many familiar faces there but some that perhaps should have been --- familiar, that is! For example, Pat found himself standing next to a man sporting a sparkly “guitar” pin on his lapel and almost said to him, “That’s a nice pin; do you play the guitar?” Good thing he didn’t ask that; the man turned out to be Joe Walsh.

After the reception, we walked (yes!) to the L.A. Convention Center and sat very near Paul, Ringo, Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, and many other celebrities. Pat said hello to Dennis Miller, who was right behind him in the men’s room line (apparently, conservative celebrities are willing to wait in line). Johnny Depp, Kate Beckinsale and Sean Penn introduced various segments (Depp and Penn stumbling over their cue-card intros; can’t they TALK?), and --- best of all for me --- Eurhythmics reunited, with Annie Lennox in fine voice for “The Fool On The Hill.” John Legend and Alicia Keyes sang “Let It Be.” Katy Perry sang “Yesterday,” just standing in one spot and singing fully-clothed, which in itself is a novelty. Stevie Wonder sang “We Can Work It Out.” In fact, he sang it twice because he wanted a re-take (apparently, there were a few things he wanted to work out.) This was a multimedia show as well, with biographical material, lots of film clips of the Beatles I’d never seen before, and fun footage from “A Hard Day’s Night” that made me promise myself I’d watch the movie again soon. It was better than the Grammy Awards, but then, they had much better material to work with.

Oh, they also had acrobats flying around on wires. It seems even the Beatles have to have those.

But the highlight, of course, was the reunion of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. On Grammy night, they had technically shared the stage, with Paul on one side and Ringo on the other, but on this night they actually came together and linked arms for “Hey Jude,” “Sgt. Pepper” and “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends.” How many times does one get to witness something like that? Answer: one time.

But you’ll get to see it on TV; it airs February 9 on CBS at 8PM EST. You might even see me in the audience, clapping and singing along.


Tuesday evening, Pat and I flew home to Dallas. We didn’t arrive in time to catch President Obama’s State Of The Union Address. But from what we heard, it wasn’t too exciting. He should’ve asked Paul and Ringo to appear.

Comments 1-3 of 3

  • Julie Marie Colton

    02/02/2014 02:20 PM

    I thought it was an interesting trio of articles on the Grammy's and I agree with the sentiment about the wedding. What happened to the Grammy's being about music? I don't watch myself because I find the performances distasteful, but it is sad that the musicians themselves can't see it.

  • Vanessa Knutsen

    02/01/2014 09:02 PM

    I only saw most of the gay marriage segment.

    At first, I thot they were singing a Christian gospel song. Because they had church window type of stage decor. Maybe some will thus take their message as "gospel".

    So sad. Used to think Grammys were about the music.

    I explained to my teen son why I was offended, and I deleted the whole DVR'd thing.

  • Sharon Hickey

    02/01/2014 06:15 PM

    An amusing look at the grammys & not surprising because it seems everyone with any amount of name recognition is so self-absorbed. The sad part is your grasp of the issues which will dominate the 2014 & 2016 elections. We are such shallow people. We really need God.

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