I need to come clean here. I have very few awards. Those I do have feel as if they have been given mostly for just staying alive. So, please don’t equate me with anyone who knows anything about this subject.
But…. over the last couple of days you may have spotted some reporting back on the Grammy Awards which took place in LA on Sunday night. I was pleased to see my fellow troubadour Rab Noakes making a point which seems to get slightly overlooked in the hysteria of showbiz reporting surrounding the event. These are the American Music awards. They really only signify what has been released and sold in the US market over the last calendar year. The event is not, as some seem to suggest, the World Cup of Music.
They are also the collective, considered opinion of a group of people. Now, I may not have a shelf full of these trophies but I have, for my sins, sat on an award panel or two. Later this week I will be trawling through some good people’s work to come to a considered evaluation once more, and I’m already dreading it. The problem is not that it’s difficult to suggest a song or artist who seems more worthy than the last one you heard; we do that almost every time we switch something off and load another track in. The problem is we are given a short list which other persons will have assembled. So, in this year’s Grammys we get Crowded Table by The Highwomen winning Best Country Song which is the one I really hoped would win. Is it the best song of the year? Is such a thing possible? Of course not. Do I fret about these things? Well, clearly these events, and of course, lists are made to make us do just that.
You may know from my previous ramblings that I am no fan of the ‘list.’ It’s an overblown bloke thing which, in my humble opinion, is the preferred indulgence of the beardy guy who has, frankly, too much time on his hands. You’ve seen him I’m sure – the sort of journalist who pops up on the tail end of news programmes to bore you on why Chuck Berry was better than Buddy Holly. No one needs it and no one needs an award to confirm what the public has already told them: A gold album means people love the record. So it’s simply a nice thing when some good people get a little moment in the spotlight they may not have expected.
So I’m glad people who like dressing up got to go to the Grammy awards and found a matching mask for their tuxedo. I’m more glad however, that some good records weren’t forgotten. We’ll play some great winners from the late John Prine, Billy Strings and Miranda Lambert. Spare a thought too for those whose records we all know are every bit as good as any on these long lists. No one can tell you or me they too don’t deserve a gong.
You can hear Grammy winners and some great new records on this Tuesday’s Another Country. Join me live from five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland from five past eight or any time you fancy on BBC Sounds.