Musicares-Berry Gordy & Smokey Robinson

It’s the music business’s greatest night.

As for the music…

That’s right, you can do a year’s worth of business in one night. Because EVERYBODY is there. Well, not everybody, but a ton of movers and shakers, and a bunch of overdressed nobodies. That’s how you can tell they’re not in the business, by the clothes they wear. The men are in tuxes and the women in ball gowns, overdressed, as per the black tie invitation. Everybody else knows it’s just another night in Hollywood, and the acts may be fashionistas, but the people who actually control this world are anything but.

So we’re on the precipice of a dividing line, a changing of generations. It’s finally here folks, the classic rock generation is heading into the sunset. Their heroes are passing, dropping like flies, from Christine McVie to Jeff Beck, and their music no longer dominates, not even Motown.

Remember the Motown revival of “Ally McBeal”? Yes, a revival, OVER TWO DECADES AGO! How many times can Motown come back? One thing’s for sure, not with the original singers/players/writers.

As for Berry Gordy… He’s 93 and was one of the most youthful cats in the joint. Smiling, wearing a knit hat, he was having fun. Because that’s what the business used to be about. Talk to anybody who was around back then. The fun has been squeezed out by business. And the youngsters populating the stage are more familiar with economics than they are the arts.

So the Temptations took the stage and it was…AWFUL! Sad. Not even worthy of a Vegas lounge, if they even have those anymore. There was supposedly one original member there. And the outfits and dance moves were representative of the era, but the singing? It made me wince. It was a poor facsimile of the original sound, the one embedded in our brains. Magic was caught on wax, as for last night…if you were there then you didn’t want to be there now.

The lead singer of the Four Tops was a bit better, closer to Levi Stubbs, but come on… Believe me, as long as people will line up and pay, there will be Temptations and Four Tops in the 22nd century, but I hope not. Let the records remain. Then again, there are Civil War re-enactors…

As for fighting for Black liberation…

Can we finally honor a rapper, a hip-hop artist, someone young? This is the transition I’m talking about. The music changed years ago, even the Super Bowl woke up and acknowledged this. But the Grammys…are still living in the past, with the old white people.

Yes, Gordy and Robinson are Black, but the music was whitewashed long ago. Furthermore, this was the music of revolution. Of the rights of Blacks. Of the sixties. Motown aided integration more than Washington. That’s the power of art. A power that’s been abdicated in the music today, where it’s all entrepreneurship all the time, all money, and art has been kicked to the curb. There was a moment there, a couple of decades back, when the Grammys meant something. When MTV turned music into a monoculture and an outsider ran the organization. Yes, Mike Greene, unlike the other Grammy toppers, was a rock star. Tussling with the mayor of New York. Not worried about his cronies in the business. Outsiders make change, ever since Greene it’s been insiders, keeping the waters calm and missing the point.

Which is how the Grammys missed classic rock in the first place. It was outsider music, and the insiders wanted nothing to do with it.

As for hip-hop… Who wants to be honored by an organization that won’t include you. As for all the insiders saying it should be Beyoncé’s night… Does anybody acknowledge that “Renaissance” was a relative stiff? Not exactly a turntable hit, but compare the streams to other top LPs. And doesn’t she have enough awards? And it’s about success, not awards anyway. And no one remembers who wins. And if Beyoncé sweeps, that’s fine with me, but it’s also fine if she loses. I mean who cares what a group of aged wankers has to say anyway?

So the stars of last night…

Were the alta-kachers.

Valerie Simpson killed! But I doubt most of the people in the audience knew who she was, giving a standing O to the Temptations evidencing their brain dead artistic sensibilities.

And Dionne Warwick! It won’t be long before these two are gone, they seem not to have lost a step. Catch them while they’re still here.

And Ronnie Isley, who everybody talked during. He’s an absolute icon. The song the Isleys performed was not a known-by-all classic, but man, he could still do his thing. And knows how to perform, too!

Brandi Carlile? The new Bonnie Raitt of the Grammys. They found her, anointed her, and they’re never going to let her go. She always delivers, and she delivered last night.

As for the rest… I won’t even bother to mention their names.

Even Stevie Wonder disappointed. Oh, he was Stevie… Then again, he wrote most of his best material.

And Smokey… He’s still got his pipes too. I thought he’d do a medley of his greatest hits, instead we got a one tune tribute to Gordy that underwhelmed.

But there was a video clip, with the two of them driving around the streets of Detroit in the back of an aged Thunderbird, laughing like school kids, that was better than most of the performances. But when the clips come on, people talk.

And talk I did. To so many. Who knew Coran Capshaw loved to read? He just finished “Demon Copperhead,” and devoured “The Overstory.” And is helping rebuild his hometown of Charlottesville, with housing for the less than fortunate.

On the way in I ran into the manager of Phoebe Bridgers. He knew I wasn’t a fan, but all that b.s. is thrown overboard at Musicares. Good guy, got me interested.

And Lee Zeidman talked about the frustrations of dealing with the city government.

And it was one person after another. Not only catching up after Covid… You see the music business is centered in Los Angeles, the TOURING BUSINESS is centered in Los Angeles. So once a year everybody makes the pilgrimage and…

It’s like any other business, you’re either in or you’re out.

And the sword is laid down. After all, a lot of these people worked together at previous companies.

And Joe Berchtold told us about testifying in Congress and we all had a laugh as to the fact that they ganged up on him and didn’t get it.

You see it’s an insider business.

And last night we were all inside.

As for the music…

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