January 27, 2014

Was it "adorable" for Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to enact reunion at The Grammys?

Here's how Buzzfeed presents it:
Paul McCartney And Ringo Starr Reunited At The Grammys And It Was Adorable
The other two Beatles couldn’t be there, so they did Paul’s new song "Queenie Eye."
Paul McCartney — deemed "the cute one" since he arrived on the world stage a half century ago — is a 71-year-old man. "The other two Beatles couldn’t be there" because of the utterly unadorable reality of death. Ringo seems to be a nice enough man, but he's roped into appearing on stage while Paul plays his new song. That is, Paul has another record. He's an industrious musician who has consistently put out records over the decades and kept himself in the public eye one way or another, and this year presents a special opportunity, working The Beatles' 50th anniversary.

It's appropriate to include Ringo, who's also put out records over the years, and whose survival — he's 73 — makes it possible to augment Paul with a living human and call it "The Beatles," not that Paul wanted to play some old Beatles song for the occasion. And it's not as if Ringo and Paul haven't reunited before. Buzzfeed says: "This is the first time Ringo and McCartney have performed together since 2009." A 5 year gap. So what?

Back in the 1970s, there was always talk about whether The Beatles would get back together. It was an over-discussed topic that had gotten to be a pathetic wish and a failure to recognize the good work all 4 of them had done post-Beatles. I remember when John Lennon died, in 1980, the first thought that crossed my mind that wasn't completely sad was: That ends all the talk about whether there will ever be a Beatles reunion.

When The Beatles were together, in the 1960s, no one who cared about them gave a damn about The Grammys, which didn't seem to get rock and roll at all. The Record of the Year for singles released in 1964 was "The Girl from Ipanema" by Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz. It was amazing that The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was even nominated, because no rock song had ever been nominated. The other nominees were "Downtown" (Petula Clark), "Hello, Dolly!" (Louis Armstrong), and "People" (Barbra Streisand). There was a term for what the Grammys rewarded back then: "easy listening." Or as I thought about it at the time: things that Cousin Brucie should not even play but did.

Having therefore always hated The Grammys, I'm not in tune with whoever watched The Grammys last night and have no idea what might seem "adorable" to them or why they would even want men in their 70s to be adorable... unless it's the way that young people patronize the very old. They're not that old.

63 comments:

MadisonMan said...

In 1976, Starland Vocal Band won best new group, even though it was plain to *everyone* that they would never record another hit.

The Beatles did win Best New Artist of 1965, so the Grammys got that right, at least.

The Grammys are a big Meh to me.

Mark said...

I thought the whole Beatles hyping last night was not classy and seemed oddly desperate.
Ringo still seems affable but Paul was trying far too hard and it came off as a desperate attempt of an old man to feel young/relevant/involved.

To my ear, either the Carole King/ Bareles (spelling?) duet was really sweet as was the Stevie Wonder add-on to Daft Punk.

Seeing the best record won by a Canadian Mountie and two robots was quite some theater too.

Shouting Thomas said...

I played with a band of kids last night. I'm so old I can no longer accurately guage the age of kids, but I think they were in their 30s.

We played some Beatles tunes. The kids' play list included quite a few 60s and 70s tunes.

The youngsters did the tunes very well. They were fun.

Robert Cook said...

I watched most of last night's Grammys, up to just past Metallica's performance, but I finally had to get to bed. It's the first awards show I have watched--a few random five-minute glimpses here and there--in many years. I stopped watching when I realized that, mere months (or weeks!) after, I couldn't remember--and didn't care--who had won what. (This was specifically the Academy Awards show that spurred this realization.) Moreover, they're always painful and embarrassing. However, I saw a commercial last night touting those who would be performing and it seemed impressive enough a roster to arouse my interest.

It was pretty good, actually. The music was enjoyable, the usual awful scripted mc patter was minimal (and not awful), and it was fun to see so many celebrity musicians get lost enough in the music of their peers to dance in their seats like reg'lar fans. (With Tyler Swift, though, I wonder if she dances merely to show off, given how promiscuously she is known to dance at awards shows.)

Anyway, I enjoyed Paul's new song, and liked that Ringo was drumming with him on the song, (along with another drummer!).

More astonishing to me is that Paul won a Grammy along with three members of Foo Fighters, two of whom were in Nirvana, and one of whom was in the uberpunk band The Germs! That one of the Germs would end up playing on a recording with Paul McCartney--and that they would win a Grammy for it--is one of the illustrative wonders of the possibilities of the pop music world!

Shouting Thomas said...

Strange that a Louis Armstrong tune on the top 40 would be seen as a negative.

Speaks to the sophistication of the audience of that era.

MayBee said...

When was the last time a music special ended *without* Paul McCartney getting onstage?

fivewheels said...

The Girl From Ipanema has stood the test of time as a pop song. I Want to Hold Your Hand is a primitive oldies relic with no more relevance as music than a nursery rhyme.

Almost like the Beatles in general, to a post-Boomer whose tastes turn toward bluegrass and opera, i.e. music that needs musicians to perform it, not engineers.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


I think it's adorable when the Grammys go to progressive politicians for 'spoken word' recordings and shit like that.

So objective! And just adorable!

Ron said...

So let's see...the Beatles have lost 2 guitar players and have a bass player and a drummer. The Who have lost a bass player and a drummer...and have a guitar player and another singer. Hmmm...chocolate...peanut butter....

Meet the Whotles!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Professor-

You're adorable!

*ducks*

fivewheels said...

So that was unnecessarily bitchy, but come on, I Want to Hold Your Hand?

I guess I'm still irritated by all the Morlocks complaining that Renee Fleming is singing the anthem at the Super Bowl, and couldn't they have gotten someone good like Robin Thicke?

Conrad Bibby said...

@ Ron: I believe Ringo Starr's son now plays drums for The Who.

John said...

You mean Paul McCartney was in another band before Wings?

Who knew?

John Henry

Brando said...

That's how Buzzfeed reports everything: "Top 35 things only _____s from the '90s will understand"; "_____ did _____ and it was awesome"; "Five reasons why _____ is your spirit animal". Basically enter any new trending news item into the blanks and you have Buzzfeed's automatic article generator working for you.

If they didn't have frequent photo blogs of delicious food and recipes there'd really be no reason to check their site.

JoyD said...

I didn't watch the Grammys. Our son, the blues man, was over for dinner, and he wasn't interested either. Today I enjoyed one of those fugly fashion slide shows, but I didn't recognize most of the playas.
Is there anyone today who can make music like Miles Davis? Really, if you can recommend a musical genius I might be missing, please do.

Ron said...

@ Conrad Bibby,

Yes, I know Zack Starkey plays drums for the Who (and Oasis...and Ringo). Zack was taught drumming not by Ringo, but by Keith Moon! And if I'm not mistaken, Zack's daughter(?) is a drummer as well.

Ron said...

oops, misspelling....it's "Zak" not "Zack"

Kevin said...

I'm actually shocked that the competition was that good. I was under the impression it was all still Doris Day and Frank Sinatra kind of stuff. Downtown, People, and Hello, Dolly are immortal recordings of GREAT songs that will be remembered as long as Western music is remembered. Girl from Ipanema is the least of the 5, but it is still good, and everyone knows it anyway. The fact that ALL the songs are instantly recognizable 50 years later says a lot. What of the last 10 years of best song Grammys will be?

wildswan said...

The Beatles and Bob Dylan were just getting started when I was in college. I studied the classics and listened to the Beatles etc. to for fun and something more, something indefinable. But if current trends continue in college they will study the Beatles and read the classics for fun and some more, something indefinable. And from those ashes will rise ...

"We're captives on the carousel of time
... and go round and round in the circle game."

surfed said...

Never in my 60+ years on this planet have I ever watched the Grammys. The Grammy to me are utter commercial bullshit. That's the sound of me patting myself on the own back. "I feel good, like I knew that I would..."

tim in vermont said...

What Kevin said.

My seventeen year old daughter loves the Beatles. After listening to them a bit, try turning on the "Sixties on Six" Sirius radio station and you will slowly become impressed with the Beatles all over again. That is not to say that some of the sixties music wasn't really good. Its just that a lot of the popular stuff was just so insubstantial, for lack of a better word.

Carol said...

yeah that Getz-Gilberto album is still awesome. Loved it then and love it now, and I started the first beatles fan club on my block. so I was there for all that too.

hype ain't music.

Kevin said...

Interesting topic. Looking at the list of winners and nominees of Record of the Year over time, it looks like the younger generation really started to break in in 1969, and in 1971 it was all young stuff, though as you say biased toward easy listening. I can't really say I begrudge that much of the "old fogey" songs that were on the list in the 60s. I mean, come on, Strangers in the Night? It aint All Along the Watchtower, but it's hardly chicken feed.

If a criticism could go one way or the other, I'd be more critical of the choices post 1990 than pre 1970.

Will Cate said...

"There was a term for what the Grammys rewarded back then: 'easy listening.' "

That really hasn't changed very much.

Jane the Actuary said...

The Beatles? Meh. Funny thing: mom and dad, both born in 1939, were utterly indifferent to the Beatles. My son's teacher, who, yes, is ready to retire, was born in 1941 and has been telling the class how much she loved them.

Amexpat said...

Music was a big part of my life from the late 60's till the early 70's and I don't think I was even aware of the Grammys. In contrast to the Academy Awards, I can't recall the ceremonies being televised or much press about it.

Though they may have been square, they did get it right with "Girl from Ipanema". It's a great song that I still enjoy listening to. "I wanna Hold your Hand" was a flash in a pan. Most Beatle fans would rarely listen to it now.

Pogo is Dead said...

Boomers hate their accelerating irrelevance.

Rarely now does one find music collections from the 30s or 40s and now even the 50s. Soon the 60s, too, will pass into oblivion. But not soon enough.

The Who becomes 'the who?' and then silence.

Kevin said...

As I think about the list for the entire rock era, I can't say I agree with almost any of them either. Hotel California in 1978 seems at least justifiable. Need You Now is the best pop song of the last decade, though again I don't know to what degree it will be recognized 50 years from now. Other than that....

tim in vermont said...

I minimize my listening to current music. Yeah, like the superannuated hero in "Interview with the Vampire," my capacity to absorb the changes in popular culture has diminished with age (Yeah you, get off of my lawn!) This isn't to say that I don't enjoy new music. I do, but it has to have high standards of musicianship, like Bluegrass, for example, and not be banging me over the head with the same old tropes, tarted up with the latest musical ornamentation, that I have been hearing on popular radio for 50 plus years. Modern popular music seems to be Disco without the whimsy.

tim in vermont said...

"Boomers hate their accelerating irrelevance."

Spoken like someone still soaked in the hormones of youth who has never experienced the compensatory peace that comes with the aches and pains and heartaches of advancing age.

madAsHell said...

I think my wife was watching. The broadcast seemed to be centered around the red carpet. The interview team included a woman, a flamboyant man, and then a real gender bender in a tuxedo with a woman's voice.

Most interviews were a lot of meaningless prattle, and then the conclusion was always "What are you wearing?"

PB Reader said...

Awards shows and reality shows are all of low interest to me. I deal with enough reality during daily life.

Kevin said...

The true standard for the rock era isn't record or song of the year, but album of the year. And even then, how rarely they got it right.

Sgt. Pepper, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Tapestry, Rumours, and Jagged Little Pill all seem justifiable in the context of the years they competed. Come Away With Me made sense at the time, you could barely move that year without hearing something from it. Surprising that she never went anywhere after that. But otherwise the list looks very weak.

surfed said...

I mostly listen to my parent's music now. Glenn Miller, Helen Forrest, Tommy D and Frank, Benny G, Ella, et al.

virgil xenophon said...

I guess the Arctic Monkeys' smash hit "Do you wanna know" had no chance? I just don't understand...lol

Ann Althouse said...

I don't have a problem with the things that were labeled "easy listening" back then. Frank Sinatra, et al, were great, and the quality of the recording with lush orchestration was high. The Grammys at the time, recognized that, which was fine for them to do, but irrelevant for people who were interested in the rock and roll genre.

The "Top 40" format meant that teenagers who wanted to listen to rock had to listen to "Strangers in The Night" and so forth too. That annoyed me. This was before we had FM.

I wanted an all-rock radio station. That's all. I'd have been more willing to listen to Sinatra and other things if I could control it!

Remember that the older generation was, in 1964, cranking up the Vietnam War and the draft, and there was a wedge going in between the generations, and rock music was tied into some very deep emotions.

SteveR said...

I mostly don't care about the Grammys. They've created so many categories and there is so much celebrity incest that its logically exhausting and not entertaining.

jr565 said...

Didn't the Grammys once give best heavy metal award to jethro till and not to Metallica who were having a monstrous year?
I haven't seem the grammy's in ages. If there's anything worthwhile I'll hear about it the next day.

Howard said...

The Beatles were really John and George. Paul and Ringo make saccharin seem like Vermont Maple Syrup. It's fitting they should be featured on a show that celebrates banal mediocrity.

Howard said...

Hey Pogo, as a gray-haired boomer, I agree 100%. Good riddance to bad garbage. Finally I can agree with your twisted opinions.

jr565 said...

Madisonman wrote:
In 1976, Starland Vocal Band won best new group, even though it was plain to *everyone* that they would never record another hit.

it seems to be the kiss of death for an artist to win the best new artist on the Grammy's. Odds are,
That's the last you'll hear from them.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

They should make the Grammy statuette so you can take it apart and use the bell as an ear horn.

Kevin said...

I stopped giving them any credibility when Milli Vanilli beat the Indigo Girls for best new artist, and when Milli Vanilli was exposed they didn't give the award to the Indigo Girls.

I hold grudges a long time.

Robert Cook said...

"The Beatles were really John and George. Paul and Ringo make saccharin seem like Vermont Maple Syrup."

No, The Beatles were all four together, but the two crucial Beatles were John and Paul. George was a talented musician and songwriter, but he never achieved a body of work as varied or accomplished as Lennon and McCartney. (Despite the joint writing credits, most "Lennon/McCartney" songs were either Lennon or McCartney, and rarely, after their very beginnings as songwriters, collaborations. The material McCartney wrote in the Beatles was of a higher order than most of his subsequent work, if only because he had to compete with Lennon to get his songs on the records.)

I say this as a not ardent Beatles listener, but simply to state the facts of the matter. I was 8 when they first appeared on Ed Sullivan and I remember it, and although I liked the Beatles throughout their active career, I was too young during most of it to be a "fan" or to buy their records. I only just started buying records in the last year of their life as a band, when ABBEY ROAD came out.

William said...

I don't think there's any music later than 1980 on my playlist. I don't keep current with music. I'm sure that talented musicians still exist and that they still write songs about waiting in the rain for a brown eyed girl and that their audience still thinks those musicians have a tremendous understanding of the sorrows of the heart that surpasses all previous singers......There's a generation that will grow up with Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. The poor bastards will have to be nostalgic and tears eyed about their music.

jacksonjay said...


Did the Obamas get or give a shout-out?

William said...

As I get older, I move back and sideways rather than with the times. There are huge number of Gershwin and Kern songs that never quite became standards but are still better than anything that you're likely to hear today......Jerome Kern wrote some fabulous melodies, but he was badly served by his lyricists. Dylan should devote his later life to writing new lyrics for Kern melodies. The lyrics to Smoke Gets in Your Eyes are really banal. Maybe if it was rewritten as a protest song to Bradley Manning's conviction it could find a new audience.

St. George said...

So long ago.

Was it in a dream?

Ah, bowakawa.

Pousse, pousse.

mccullough said...

Paul McCartney spends a lot of his time kissing the Obamas' asses. Maybe he thinks it will help him sell records. John was right about Paul. He's a fool.

Ringo had the hottest wife. Give him some props

Howard said...

Robert: You are correct, they were four together and Paul and Ringo dragged down the two "bright" guys. If John and George had better partners, say Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, then they would have given the Stones a run for their money instead of being an occasionally interesting pop band.

Portia said...

Most people stop being adorable when they reach the age of 2.

DrMaturin said...

@Robert Cook.

I was 9 in 1964 when the Beatles arrived in America. All the girls in my neighborhood went crazy. I went up to a 12 year old girl named Cookie and said "I don't get it. What's so great about them?". In response I received the most contempt-filled, withering look I have ever received from a female. I've never forgotten this.

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

The "Top 40" format meant that teenagers who wanted to listen to rock had to listen to "Strangers in The Night" and so forth too. That annoyed me. This was before we had FM.

First World Problems.

;-)

Though of course I felt exactly the same way as you did. We had *2* whole AM Top-40 stations, at least, so if something barfy was playing you had at least a 50% chance of hopping over to something better.

John said...

If John and George had better partners, say Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, then they would have given the Stones a run for their money instead of being an occasionally interesting pop band.

That is one of the dumbest things I have ever read. First, most of the cutting edge and interesting stuff the Beatles did was due to Paul more than John. John was whacked out on drugs for a large part of the making of the Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sergeant Pepper. Indeed, one of the reasons Paul and John stopped getting along in 1968 was John cut down on his drug use and started to reassert himself more. John was always about straight Rock and Roll more than innovation.

Second, George for all of his genius, didn't write any songs of note until 1968. And nearly all of the songs people know and love George for writing were written by 1971. George had a three year shelf life. He was never even close to the genius John and Paul were.

Third, Ginger Baker would have been a disaster behind the Beatles. One of the reasons why the band worked so well was that Ringo knew he wasn't the star. The star was the singing and the song writing. Anything beyond a competent drummer would have just taken away from that. And a noted ego maniac like Baker would have destroyed it. Baker could play behind a late 1960s Clapton because Clapton was a virtuoso whose guitar skills needed to be balanced by someone of equal skill and flamboyance. The Beatles didn't need that. They needed someone to keep the time and put in the proper fill now and then.

Forth, calling the Beatles an "interesting pop band" is the sort of thing idiots who like to think they are smart say. The Beatles pretty laid the ground work for how you make popular rock music that didn't sound like Chuck Berry. Who else before ever made a rock song that has no guitars (Eleanor Rigby) or used feedback (I Feel Fine) or used the sound board and multitracked recording to its full value. The list goes on and on. Beyond that, they were incredible singers and musicians. Name another white band ever that could do credible Motown covers. There aren't any. But the Beatles could. Their covers of Mr. Postman and You Really Go A Hold on Me are incredible. I won't say they are better than the originals. But they are the only covers ever done by a white band that even compare.

The Beatles are a cliche. But in the same way that some places are touristy for a reason, some cliches are cliches because they are true. Anyone who denies the greatest of the Beatles is either someone who just rejects the value of rock and roll altogether or a poser doofus trying to be contrary.

Doug said...

Mark said ..."but Paul was trying far too hard and it came off as a desperate attempt of an old man to feel young/relevant/involved." McCartney, though a great songwriting talent and an accomplished natural musician, is an utter twit. Has been since Lennon used to rag on him for writing and singing all that "granny music".

The Grammys - like the Tonys, Emmys, Oscars and other completely disposable self-congratulatory industry circle jerks - serves as a once-a-year forum for entertainers to display their utter disregard for me and my values.

Howard said...

John: I'm glad you like the Beatles along with the millions of teenage girls. Do you listen to post Beatle Paul and Ringo music? It's beyond schmaltz.

jr565 said...

John wrote:
"Name another white band ever that could do credible Motown covers. There aren't any. But the Beatles could. Their covers of Mr. Postman and You Really Go A Hold on Me are incredible. I won't say they are better than the originals. But they are the only covers ever done by a white band that even compare."

You wont find a bigger Beatles fan than me, and I'd even say they do some pretty good cover versions. But to say that no other band could do credible motown covers is crazy.

jr565 said...

Howard wrote:
John: I'm glad you like the Beatles along with the millions of teenage girls. Do you listen to post Beatle Paul and Ringo music? It's beyond schmaltz.

Have you listened to much Eric Claptop after Cream? It's beyond shmaltz.

jr565 said...

" McCartney, though a great songwriting talent and an accomplished natural musician, is an utter twit. Has been since Lennon used to rag on him for writing and singing all that "granny music"

Then again, who is lennon to talk. He turned around and wrote "Imagine", which while being phenomenal tune has some of the most insipid lyrics this side of Meat Is Murder.

Cedarford said...

Althouse gives an unfortunate example, as all the songs that were nominanted in lieu of Beatles tunes became classics.

Downtown?
Hello Dolly?
Girl From Ipanema?

Nothing shabby there.

All sound great even to new generations. I was fooled in the 1980s thinking Gilberto singing her bit was a new song.

richardsson said...

In the L.A. area, we used to go cruising in 1964 (it had a more innocent meaning in those days.) I remember that Summer as the time when "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" was all they played on the radio. KRLA, KHJ, KFWB it didn't matter, it was PLAYED TO DEATH. Then, in the Fall it was the Supremes "Baby Love." Same thing; they played it to death. At home, when I was alone, I listened to John Coltrane, Yusef Lateef, Chico Hamilton. I was probably the only white guy in the suburbs with Yusef Lateef records. It was a way of flushing all that sugar from my ears. Later, when I got tired of that I found retro records and began listening to Fats Waller and other music from the 1920's and 30's. That's still my favorite music. Obviously, the Grammys (I guess from the British Grammophone) meant nothing to me.

Doug said...

jr565 said: Then again, who is lennon to talk. He turned around and wrote "Imagine", which while being phenomenal tune has some of the most insipid lyrics this side of Meat Is Murder."

Agreed - Individually, the Fab Four made very forgettable music for the most part. Could be that the genius of the Beatles was George Martin, accepting their best efforts and rejecting their self-indulgent stuff. "Imagine" a more insipid piece of tripe than "Silly Love Songs". Bleaaahhh!

Douglas said...

Lorde was awesome last night. Just saying. The Grammies are always awful, the music they reward is usually stupid or boring, but last night they had Lorde.