Monday, February 11, 2013
Music Sunday on Monday: The Record of the Year Edition
Pretend it's Sunday. No, really. Just for a few minutes, pretend that it's Music Sunday and this post isn't a day late. Blame it on the cat that adopted my roommate at the end of the week.
Since last night was the Grammy Awards (boring show, as far as I'm concerned, but that's beside the point), I thought I'd review some of the past winners of "Record of the Year", one of the most anticipated awards each year when the Grammys are handed out.
In 1960, Bobby Darin's version of "Mack the Knife" won as Record of the Year. This Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht song from "The Threepenny Opera" is one of my favorite songs, and Darin's version is my preferred version of the song. This clip is a live performance, but I'm not sure where or when it was given:
An instrumental, "A Taste of Honey", by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass won Best Record in 1966, beating out, among other songs, The Beatles' "Yesterday". This video of the song is from about 1966 or 1967, depending on which source you believe:
The next year, Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night" won this category. Among the other songs nominated in 1967 were "Monday, Monday", by the Mamas and the Papas, and something called "Winchester Cathedral", by The New Vaudeville Band. I'm not sure, again, exactly when this live performance of the song was given, but it was years after the song first came out:
Just in case you've never heard of "Winchester Cathedral" (the song, not the actual cathedral), it is best described as a novelty song, which might leave you wondering exactly how it got nominated for any kind of a Grammy, much less Record of the Year. It was popular at the time, but, well, just listen and tell me if you think this is really award material:
Fast forward a couple of decades, to 1986, when Grammy voters awarded Record of the year to USA for Africa's "We Are The World". I suppose just the fact that they got that many artistic egos into the same room at the same time was an accomplishment of epic proportions. The fact that they got a pretty good song out of it, I think, is even more astonishing given the wide variety of singing styles involved.
Among the songs "We Are the World" beat out for this award were Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA", Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer" and Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing", all very good songs that might have won in another year.
Perhaps the most surprising Record of the Year winner, given that it was so political, was in 2007, when "Not Ready to Make Nice", by the Dixie Chicks won. It was the song they recorded in the wake of the controversy over singer Natalie Maines' comments regarding then-president George W. Bush and the (at the time of the comments) impending invasion of Iraq. But it is a wonderful song:
Since it is Monday, and since I should be writing Movie Monday instead of Music Sunday today, let me just recommend the documentary "Shut Up & Sing", about the controversy in the aftermath of the comments that led to the song. No matter what side you are on regarding those comments and the fallout from them, it is a good film that deserves to be seen.
There are many other songs I could have included here that have won Record of the Year over the years, but these are some of my favorites.