The Grammys happened last night, and my favorite moment was seeing Dan Wilson on stage co-accepting Song of the Year for “Not Ready to Make Nice,” which he wrote with the Dixie Chicks. I got to interview Dan on the deck at Jillian’s a few years ago when Semisonic played Louisville; he could not possibly have been nicer to me, and he gave me one hell of an interview. He’s also co-written some of my favorite songs of the last few years with folks like Glen Phillips and Rachael Yamagata. Dan’s solo album, Free Life, is coming out later this year. It’s definitely going to be a keeper.
Here’s a partial list of Grammy categories along with who the winners would be if I were in charge of picking them:
Song of the Year: “Beautiful in Los Angeles,” by Garrison Starr. According to my iPod, no other song was played more by me in 2006. It’s no wonder, with a scorching lead vocal by Garrison, atmospheric production and rocking backing vocals on the chorus by my main man Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket fame.
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: “Bones and a Name,” by Nina Gordon. Or maybe “Christmas Lights,” by Nina Gordon. Regardless, it’s Nina Gordon all the way — she’s the sweet that made Veruca less Salty, and her Bleeding Heart Graffiti album is a big, sweeping slice of tasty pop pie.
Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: “Everything But You,” by Glen Phillips. “Take me dancing, pale and knock-kneed, spin me through the crowd and drop me, dizzy in the middle of the floor. Oh my God, you terrify me, oblivious, you blow right by me; spinning wine and melted ice cream, random, warm and mesmerizing, you terrify me, you are everything.” It’s a sweet, bouncy, folky pop masterpiece from an album (Mr. Lemons) that could have used a few more of them.
Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals: “Fireflies,” by Rhett Miller and Rachael Yamagata. Sweaty Rhetty and The Stud put the fire in “Fireflies” in this sad, sweet, sexy sequel to “Nineteen” by Rhett’s band, the Old 97’s. If my iPod was a woman, it would be pregnant from having this song in it. No joke.
Best Pop Vocal Album: Comfort of Strangers, by Beth Orton. This is easily my favorite Beth Orton album, with a wonderful variety of vocal arrangements on a fine variety of songs. “Shopping Trolley” is the best.
Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: “Live Alone,” by Some Girls. Lead vocal by Heidi Gluck, chorus by Juliana Hatfield with backup by fellow Blake Baby Freda Love. It sounds like a sweet ’60s love song and I can’t get enough of it.
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Under the Covers, Vol. 1, by Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs. Two of pop’s best voices tag-team their favorite songs, both known and not, from the ’60s. The highlight? Love’s “Along Again Or.” Say goodbye to your breath.
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: “Come on Hard,” by the Gin Blossoms. When they hit the bridge with a gorgeously harmonized “I promise I won’t hurt you anymore,” well, that’s about as good as it gets.
Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: “Lullabye,” by the Dixie Chicks. The harmonies are way intoxicating. Whew.
Album of the Year: Major Lodge Victory, by the Gin Blossoms. Cool, confident and solid as a rock. They could easily have just cranked out something half-assed for their first album in 10 years; instead, they delivered something that’s stronger than anything they’ve done. This is a massively awesome effort, and I hope we don’t have to wait so long for the next one.
And this is my own category:
Best Side Project: “Making a Baby with Nina Gordon,” by Jeff Russo of Tonic. That’s not a song. He really made a baby with Nina Gordon. Good job.
How about you? What are some of your fantasy Grammy picks?