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What Culture Has Wrought, The Grammys

The guy walked up to me and said—well, what he said started with a word not often seen in print. He ended his two-word phrase with a “you”. Far from being insulted, I was instead so overcome by his artistic brilliance, by the sheer eloquence of his remark, that I organized an ad hoc street committee so that we could vote this gentleman a major award.

The man, whose named I discovered to be Cee Lo Green, gracefully accepted our honorarium but said he thought it was misplaced. He explained that he wasn’t speaking to me, but that I happened to be in earshot at the same moment he was practicing a speech he hoped to give at this year’s Grammy Awards.

Turns out that that phrase was also the title of his new record, and that this record was nominated for Record Of The Year. Whether he won the coveted prize or not, Green planned to unleash his art on the Grammy crowd because, he reasoned, they seemed to enjoy hearing it.

He thought his chance of winning good. His colleague Eminem had used this same phrase liberally on his own nominated record, but that gentleman did not peg to the trick of including it in the record title itself. Further, the other three entrants used the phrase sparingly or not at all.

I asked if he could hum a few bars of his tune, so that I might gain a better appreciation of its merits. He started,

I see you driving ’round town

With the girl I love and I’m like,

F— you!

Oo, oo, ooo

I guess the change in my pocket

Wasn’t enough, I’m like,

F— you!

And f— her, too!

Ah, a painful, yet eternal theme. A lover jilted, his inamorata rushing to the arms of another, wealthier suitor. His sensitive evocation filled my thoughts with bittersweet images: the scene he painted was so vivid that I felt that I could reach out and touch the buddy Jesus perched on the dashboard of his rival’s car. I begged him to continue.

I said, if I was richer, I’d still be with ya

Ha, now ain’t that some s–t? (ain’t that some s–t?)

And although there’s pain in my chest

I still wish you the best with a

F— you!

Oo, oo, ooo.

Listening to this painstakingly constructed poem, one could feel one’s spirit plunge into the abyss. Despair called upon despair. Could he be saying that the heartbreak he felt was of such vigorous force as to physically manifest itself? Surely this was a love more keenly alive and of a far greater strength than Romeo’s passion for Juliet. I wasn’t sure if my now weakened frame could withstand any additional art, but when he asked if I would like him to finish, I found myself nodding.

I pity the fool that falls in love with you

(oh, s–t, she’s a gold digger)

Well

(just thought you should know, [nig-er])

Ooooooh.

It was too much. I was destroyed. This was unmistakable art of the highest order.

As I recovered, I reasoned that the case for his artistic genius was so well demonstrated that he must surely win. The 12,000 voting members of the Recording Academy who had nominated this sublime song knew what they were doing. This song was a triumph, a culmination of democracy!

One could only guess of the satisfaction that the executives at Elektra, the publishers of Green’s record. I can picture an Elektra vice president coming home and saying to his wife, “Well, honey, it’s ‘F— you.’ Word is that I’m going to receive a bonus for promoting it! We’ll finally be able to afford that black velvet Elvis you’ve had your eye on.”

I shook Green’s hand and wished him well. I said that he didn’t need luck, and that I looked forward to watching him hoist his statuette and perform his masterpiece for all the world to appreciate. I would have liked to explore in depth the themes he began to develop, but Green could tarry no longer. He was in a rush to attend a screening of the new movie Little Fockers.

10 thoughts on “What Culture Has Wrought, The Grammys Leave a comment

  1. “The unspoken premise of your satire is that the Grammy awards are for artistic achievement. Yet the the nominees demonstrate that this cannot be so” is how I started. Then I read what the Recording Academy has to say about itself.

    http://www2.grammy.com/Recording_Academy/

    “to honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.”

    I can’t decide which is more abused, music or the English language.

  2. Ahhh! The old time-honored way of achieving fame and notoriety. Just ask Richard Pryor. The same artistic phrase was being uttered at an intersection accident this morning. Christmas spirit and all. You could just feel the love and simultaneously admire the artistry of cleverly turned arrangements.

    More and more I feel I’m living in the land of Kornbluth’s The Marching Morons. Hey, Moog’s! Maybe I will buy that for a quarter. Wasn’t there a Simpson’s episode where all of the useless celebrities were conned into a spaceship bound for the sun?

  3. The Grammys slipped into irrelevance many years ago. It has always been an industry party for the insiders to congratulate one another, and never been particularly about the music.

    The Grammys suffer from several problems.

    The award is a poor indicator of influence. Songs and artists that are considered significant today, are likely be forgotten tomorrow.

    At the same time, songs that are nominated are often stale. A song can be published 18 months before it wins an award.

    There are just too many award shows. CMA, VMA, etc.

    The only value I see to the spectacle are for the Symphonic and Jazz performers. These musicians are largely overlooked 51 weeks a year.

  4. DAV,

    Remember what happended to the Golgafichans. They sent their telephone sanitizers and other uselss people away on a gaint arc, only to have the rest of Golgafrichan societed be wiped ouy by a disease spread on unsanitized telephones.

  5. Not even orignal. From the late great master:

    ‘You’re Breaking My Heart’
    Harry Nilsson’s ‘Son Of Schmilsson’ Album

    You’re breaking my heart
    You’re tearing it apart
    So F—you

    All I want to do is have a good time
    Now I’ blue

    You want boog-a-lu
    Run down to Cher’s
    Have a dance or two
    Ooo, ooo

    You’re breaking my heart
    You’re tearing it apart
    But F—you

    You’re breaking my heart
    You’re tearing it apart
    Ooo, ooo

    You stepped on my As-
    You’re breaking my glasses too

    You run down my car
    You run out of star
    I’ve had enough of you
    Ooo, ooo

    I’m going insane
    There is no one to blame
    So F—you

    You gotta have your way
    There is nothing left to say
    There is nothing left to do
    Ooo, ooo

    You’re breaking my heart
    You’re tearing it apart
    So F—you

    You gotta have your way
    There is nothing left to say
    There is nothing left to do
    Ohhh

    You’re breaking my heart
    You’re tearing it apart
    But I love you

  6. The Golgafichans might have guessed wrong on the telephone sanitizers but I doubt we’ll have that problem with the current crop of Grammy winning rap “artists”.

    Put them on the next ship out. Before it’s too late.

  7. I know I’ll certainly be in the minority here, but the song itself is fun. It’s hardly groundbreaking lyricism or even terribly exceptional music, but it’s fun.

    I see nothing wrong with that. Just like I don’t eat candy all the time, my music isn’t all Bach or Mingus or Cash. Or even The Roots. Sometimes a silly short nothing song like this is the perfect thing.

    Let’s not forget that one of the greatest artists of all time also wrong “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Would the world really have been better off without that, either?

  8. Now, Ari, you must be careful not to defeat your own point. You are comparing a song meant for babies in their cribs with one that is alleged to have artistic merit.

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