meta-scriptBruce Springsteen Added To GRAMMY Performance Lineup | GRAMMY.com

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Bruce Springsteen Added To GRAMMY Performance Lineup

Jack Black, Fergie, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, and Ringo Starr added as presenters for the 54th GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Twenty-time GRAMMY winner Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have been added to the stellar lineup for the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Actor/recording artist Jack Black, six-time GRAMMY winner and current three-time nominee Fergie, three-time GRAMMY winner and current nominee Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of the Roots, and nine-time GRAMMY winner Ringo Starr will appear as presenters. Additional performers, presenters and special segments will be announced soon.

Previously announced performers for the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards include Adele (in her first live performance since undergoing vocal cord surgery last fall); Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson; Glen Campbell with the Band Perry and Blake Shelton; Coldplay and Rihanna; Foo Fighters; Bruno Mars; Paul McCartney; Nicki Minaj; Katy Perry; and Taylor Swift. Aldean, the Band Perry, Minaj, and Shelton will perform on the GRAMMY telecast for the first time.

Previously announced presenters are Dierks Bentley, Drake, Miranda Lambert, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

LL Cool J, who has hosted "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night" since its inception in December 2008, will be hosting the annual GRAMMY Awards telecast for the first time.

The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards are produced by John Cossette Productions and AEG Ehrlich Ventures for The Recording Academy. Ken Ehrlich is executive producer, Louis J. Horvitz is director, and David Wild and Ken Ehrlich are the writers.

The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards will take place live on Sunday, Feb. 12 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast in high definition and 5.1 surround sound on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The show also will be supported on radio worldwide via Westwood One/Dial Global, and covered online at GRAMMY.com and CBS.com, and on YouTube.

Follow GRAMMY.com for our inside look at GRAMMY news, blogs, photos, videos, and of course nominees. Stay up to the minute with GRAMMY Live. Check out the GRAMMY legacy with GRAMMY Rewind. Explore this year's GRAMMY Fields. Or check out the collaborations at Re:Generation, presented by Hyundai Veloster. And join the conversation at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

'Meet The Beatles!' Turns 60: Inside The Album That Launched Beatlemania In America
The Beatles in 1964

Photo: Mark and Colleen Hayward / Redferns / Getty Images 

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'Meet The Beatles!' Turns 60: Inside The Album That Launched Beatlemania In America

A month before the Beatles played "The Ed Sullivan Show," they released their second American studio album — the one most people heard first. Here's a track-by-track breakdown of this magnitudinous slab of wax by the Fab Four.

GRAMMYs/Jan 19, 2024 - 06:48 pm

For many in America, Meet the Beatles! marked their first introduction to the legendary Fab Four — and their lives would be forever altered.

Released on Jan. 20, 1964 by Capitol Records, the Beatles' second American studio album topped the Billboard 200 within a month and stayed there for 11 weeks — only to be ousted by their next U.S. album release, The Beatles' Second Album.

It's almost impossible to put into words the impact of Meet
the Beatles! on an entire generation of the listening public. But Billy Corgan, of the Smashing Pumpkins, gave it a shot as an early fan of the Beatles in a series of LiveJournal remembrances — in this case, of himself at five years old, in 1972.

"I am totally overwhelmed by the collective sound of the greatest band ever blasting in mono thru a tin needle into a tiny speaker," he wrote. "I associate this sound forever with electricity, for it sends bolts thru my body and leaves me breathless. I can not stand still as I listen, so I must spin… I spin until I am ready to pass out, and then I spin some more."

So many other artists remember that eureka moment. "They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid," Bob Dylan said of the opening track, "I Want to Hold Your Hand." "I knew they were pointing the direction of where music had to go." Everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Sting and Questlove agreed.

From Meet the Beatles!, the Fabs would have the most astonishing five-or-six-year run in music. And so much of their songwriting and production innovation can be found within its grooves; truly, the world had no idea what it was in for. In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Meet the Beatles!, here's a quick track-by-track breakdown.

"I Want to Hold Your Hand"

The Fabs' first American No. 1 hit may have been about the chastest of romantic gestures. Still, there's nothing heavier than "I Want to Hold Your Hand," because it's clamor and fraternity. That seemingly saccharine package also contained everything they'd ever do in concentrate — hints of the foreboding of "Ticket to Ride," the galactic final chord of "A Day in the Life," and beyond.

"I Saw Her Standing There"

A few too many awards show tributes have threatened to do in "I Saw Her Standing There," but they've failed. As the opening shot of their first UK album, Please Please Me, it's perfect, but as the second track on Meet the Beatles!, it just adds to the magnitude. What a one-two punch.

"This Boy"

Songwriting-wise, "This Boy" drags a little; it becomes a little hazy who "this boy" or "that boy"  are. But it's not only a killer Smokey Robinson rip; John Lennon's double-tracked vocal solo still punches straight through your chest. (Where applicable, go for the 2020s Giles Martin remix, which carries maximum clarity, definition and punch — said solo is incredible in this context.)

"It Won't Be Long"


Half a dozen other songs here have overshadowed "It Won't Be Long," but it's still one of the early Beatles' most ruthless kamikaze missions, an assault of flying "yeahs" that knocks you sideways.

"All I've Got to Do"

Lennon shrugged off "All I've Got to Do" as "trying to do Smokey Robinson again," and that's more or less what it is. One interesting detail is the conceit of calling a girlfriend on the phone, which was firmly alien to British youth: "I have never called a girl on the 'phone in my life!"he said later in an interview. "Because 'phones weren't part of the English child's life."

"All My Loving"

"All My Loving" was the first song the Beatles played on the American airwaves: when Lennon was pronounced dead, eyewitnesses attest the song came over the speakers. It's a grim trajectory for this most inventive and charismatic of early Beatles singles, with Lennon's tumbling rhythm guitar spilling the composition forth. (About that unorthodox strumming pattern: it seems easy until you try it. And Lennon did it effortlessly.)

"Don't Bother Me"

As Dreaming the Beatles author Rob Sheffield put it, "'Don't Bother Me,' his first real song, began the 'George is in a bad mood' phase of his songwriting, which never ended." Harrison wouldn't pick up the sitar for another year or two, but the song still carries a vaguely dreamy, exotic air.

"Little Child"

"I'm so sad and lonely/ Baby, take a chance with me." For a tortured, creative kid like Corgan, from a rough background — and, likely, a million similar young folks — Lennon's childlike plea must have sounded like salvation.

"Till There Was You"

McCartney's infatuation with the postwar sounds of his youth never ended, and it arguably began on record with this Music Man tune. As usual, McCartney dances right on the edge of overly chipper and apple-cheeked. But here, George Martin's immersive, soft-focused arrangement makes it all work.

"Hold Me Tight"

Like "Little Child," "Hold Me Tight" is a tad Fabs-by-numbers, showing how they occasionally painted themselves into a corner as per their formula. Their rapid evolution from here would leave trifles like "Hold Me Tight" in the rearview.

"I Wanna Be Your Man"

Tellingly, Lennon and McCartney tossed this half-written composition to the Stones — and to Ringo Starr. Mick Jagger's typically lusty performance works, but Starr's is even better — the funny-nosed drummer throws his whole chest into this vocal workout.

"Not A Second Time"

Meet the Beatles! concludes with this likable Lennon tune about heartbreak — maybe C-tier by his standards, but it slouches toward his evolutionary step that would be A Hard Day's Night

Soon, these puppy-dog emotions ("And now you've changed your mind/ I see no reason to change mine/ I cry") would curdle and ferment in astonishing ways — in "Ticket to Ride," in "Girl," in "Strawberry Fields Forever." And it all began with Meet the Beatles! — a shot heard around the world.

1962 Was The Final Year We Didn't Know The Beatles. What Kind Of World Did They Land In?

2023 In Review: 10 Trends That Defined Rock Music
(L-R): blink-182, Phoebe Bridgers, Hayley Williams, Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen

Photo: Estevan Oriol/Getty Images, Taylor Hill/Getty Images, Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The New Yorker, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images, Sergione Infuso/Corbis via Getty Images

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2023 In Review: 10 Trends That Defined Rock Music

Rock acts young and old helped the genre stay alive in 2023. Take a look at 10 of the genre's most prominent trends, from early aughts revivals to long-awaited reunions.

GRAMMYs/Dec 11, 2023 - 05:32 pm

The rock scene may no longer be the dominant force it once was — blink-182's One More Time... is the only Billboard 200 chart-topper this year to predominantly fall under this category. But 2023 has still been an interesting and eventful period for those who like their guitar music turned up to eleven.

Over the past 12 months, we've had the two biggest groups of the Swinging Sixties returning to the fray in style, a new European invasion, and a wave of blockbuster albums that may well go down as modern classics. And then there's the revivals which will no doubt spark nostalgia in any kids of the 2000s, a resurgence in all-star line-ups, and a residency that could possibly change how we experience live music.

As we gear up for the holiday season, here's a look at 10 trends that defined rock music in 2023.

European Rock Traveled To America

From Lacuna Coil and Gojira to Volbeat and Rammstein, the Billboard charts aren't exactly strangers to European rock. But 2023 was the year when the continent appeared to band together for a mini invasion. Italian quartet Måneskin continued their remarkable journey from Eurovision Song Contest winners to bona fide rock gods with a Best New Artist nod at the 2023 GRAMMYs, a top 20 placing on the Billboard 200 albums chart for third album Rush!, and a Best Rock Video win at the MTV VMAs.

Masked metalers Ghost scored a fourth consecutive Top 10 entry on the Billboard 200 with covers EP Phantomime, also landing a Best Metal Performance GRAMMY nomination for its cover of Iron Maiden's "Phantom of the Opera," (alongside Disturbed's "Bad Man," Metallica's "72 Seasons," Slipknot's "Hive Mind," and Spiritbox's "Jaded"). While fellow Swedes Avatar bagged their first Mainstream Rock No. 1 with "The Dirt I'm Buried In," a highly melodic meditation on mortality which combines funky post-punk with freewheeling guitar solos that sound like they've escaped from 1980s Sunset Strip.

Age Proved To Be Nothing But A Number

The theory that rock and roll is a young man's game was blown apart in 2023. Fronted by 80-year-old Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones reached No.3 on the Billboard 200 thanks to arguably their finest album in 40 years, Hackney Diamonds, with lead single "Angry" also picking up a Best Rock Song GRAMMY nod alongside Olivia Rodrigo's "aallad of a homeschooled girl," Queens of the Stone Age's "Emotion Sickness," Boygenius' "Not Strong Enough," and Foo Fighters' "Rescued." (The latter two will also battle it out with Arctic Monkeys' "Sculpture of Anything Goes," Black Pumas' "More than a Love Song," and Metallica's "Lux Aeterna" for Best Rock Performance.)

The eternally shirtless Iggy Pop, a relative spring chicken at 76, delivered a late-career classic, too, with the star-studded Every Loser. And Bruce Springsteen, KISS, and Paul McCartney all proved they weren't ready for the slippers and cocoa life yet by embarking on lengthy world tours.

Death Was No Barrier To Hits

Jimmy Buffett sadly headed for that tropical paradise in the sky this year. But having already recorded 32nd studio effort, Equal Strain on All Parts, the margarita obsessive was able to posthumously score his first new entry on the Billboard Rock Chart since 1982's "It's Midnight And I'm Not Famous Yet."

But he isn't the only artist to have recently achieved success from beyond the grave. Linkin Park reached the U.S. Top 40 with "Lost," a track recorded for 2003 sophomore Meteora, but which only saw the light of day six years after frontman Chester Bennington's passing.

Perhaps most unexpectedly of all, The Beatles topped the U.K. charts for the first time since 1969 thanks to "Now and Then," a psychedelic tear-jerker in which surviving members McCartney and Ringo Starr brought previously unheard recordings from George Harrison and John Lennon back to life.

The Giants Stayed Giant

Foo Fighters also overcame the death of a core member on what many rock fans would consider this year's most eagerly awaited album. Drummer Taylor Hawkins, who passed away in early 2022, doesn't feature on the poignant but vibrant But Here We Are. Yet the two-time GRAMMY nominated LP still proved to be a fitting tribute as well as an encouraging sign that Dave Grohl and co. can extend their legacy:lead single "Rescued" became their 12th number one on Billboard's Main Rock Chart.

The Best Rock Album category for the 2024 GRAMMYs proves that veterans were alive and mighty in 2023. Along with the Foos' latest LP, the nominees include another Grohl-affiliated band,, Queens of the Stone Age's first album in six years, In Times New Roman..., Paramore's This Is Why, Metallica's 72 Seasons and Greta Van Fleet's Starcatcher.. (Metallica's 72 Seasons also struck gold with its singles, three of which landed at No. 1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, where lead single "Lux Æterna" spent 11 consecutive weeks on top.)

Of course, we also have to give a shout-out to U2. Not for March's Songs of Surrender album (for which they re-recorded 40 of their biggest and best tracks), but for the immersive, eye-popping Las Vegas residency at The Sphere which potentially reinvented the future of live music.

The Rock Supergroup Continued To Thrive

2023 spawned several new rock supergroups including Mantra of the Cosmos (Shaun Ryder, Zak Starkey and Andy Bell), Lol Tolhurst x Budgie x Jacknife Lee, and Better Lovers (various members of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Every Time I Die). But it was an already established all-star line-up that took the GRAMMY nominations by storm.

Consisting of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker, boygenius bagged a remarkable seven nods at the 2024 ceremony. Throw in a well-received headline set at Coachella, U.S. Top 50 follow-up EP, and even a "Saturday Night Live" showing alongside Timothée Chalamet, and the trio couldn't have asked for a better way to continue what they started together in 2018.

The Early 2000s Enjoyed A Revival

The cyclical nature of the music industry meant that the era of choppy bangs and super-skinny jeans was always going to come back into fashion. And following throwbacks from the likes of Olivia Rodrigo and Willow, the original punk-pop brigade returned this year to prove they could still mosh with the best of them.

Possibly the defining nasal voice of his generation, Tom DeLonge headed back into the studio with blink-182 for the first time in 12 years, with the resulting One More Time... topping the Billboard 200. Linkin Park ("Lost"), Papa Roach ("Cut the Line"), and a reunited Staind ("Lowest in Me") all scored No. 1s on the Mainstream Rock Airplay Chart, while Sum 41, Bowling For Soup, and Good Charlotte were just a few of the high school favorites who helped cement When We Were Young as the millennial's dream festival.

The Emo Scene Went Back To Its Roots

After channeling the new wave and synth-pop of the 1980s on predecessor After Laughter, Paramore returned from a six-year absence with a record which harked back to their mid-2000s beginnings. But it wasn't their own feisty brand of punk-pop that Best Rock Album GRAMMY nominee This Is Why resembled. Instead, its nervy indie rock took its cues, as frontwoman Hayley Williams freely admits, from touring buddies Bloc Party.

Paramore weren't the only emo favorites to rediscover their roots. Fall Out Boy reunited with Under the Cork Tree producer Neal Avron and old label Fueled By Ramen on the dynamic So Much (for) Stardust. And while Taking Back Sunday further veered away from their signature sound, the Long Islanders still embraced the past by naming seventh LP 152 after the North Carolina highway stretch they used to frequent as teens.

Country Artists Tapped Into Rock Sensibilities

We're used to seeing rock musicians going a little bit country: see everyone from Steven Tyler and Bon Jovi to Darius Rucker and Aaron Lewis. But the opposite direction is usually rarer. In 2023, however, it seemed as though every Nashville favorite was suddenly picking up the air guitar.

Zach Bryan repositioned himself as Gen-Z's answer to Bruce Springsteen with the heartland rock of his eponymous Billboard 200 chart-topper (which is up for Best Country Album at the 2024 GRAMMYs alongside Kelsea Ballerini's Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, Brothers Osborne's self-titled LP, Tyler Childers' Rustin' in the Rain, and Lainey Wilson's Bell Bottom Country). Meanwhile, Hitmaker HARDY — who first cut his teeth penning hits for Florida Georgia Line and Blake Shelton — leaned into the sounds of hard rock and nu-metal on his second studio LP, The Mockingbird & the Crow.

But few committed more to the crossover than the one of country's greatest living legends. Dolly Parton roped in a whole host of hellraisers and headbangers including Richie Sambora, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, and Rob Halford, for the 30-track Rockstar — her first rock-oriented project of her glittering 49-album career.

Post-Grunge Reunions Were Abundant

Fans of the mopey '90s scene known as post-grunge had all their dreams come true this year thanks to several unexpected reunions. Turn-of-the-century chart-toppers Staind and Matchbox Twenty both returned with new albums after more than a decade away. Creed, meanwhile, announced they'd be headlining next year's Summer of '99 cruise after a similar amount of time out of the spotlight.

The insatiable appetite for all things nostalgia, of course, means that any band — no matter how fleeting their fame — can stage a lucrative comeback. Take Dogstar, for example, the unfashionable outfit boasting Hollywood nice guy Keanu Reeves. Twenty-three years after appearing to call it a day, the Los Angeles trio surprised everyone by hitting the Bottlerock Napa Valley Festival before dropping a belated third LP, Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees and embarking on a headlining national tour.

The New Generation Gave The Old Their Dues

Say what you want about today's musical generation, but they know to pay respect where it's due., Olivia Rodrigo, for example, doffed her cap to '90s alt-rock favorites The Breeders by inviting them to open on her 2024 world tour.

New working-class hero Sam Fender invited fellow Newcastle native Brian Johnson to perform two AC/DC classics at his hometown stadium show. While ever-changing Japanese kawaii metalers Babymetal debuted their latest incarnation on "Metali," a collaboration with one of their musical idols, Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello.

Whether new artists are teaming up with the old or veterans are continuing to receive their flowers, 2023 proved that rock is alive and well.

2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Hip-Hop

The Beatles' Final Song: Giles Martin On The Second Life Of "Now And Then" & How The Fab Four Are "Still Breaking New Ground"
The Beatles in 1968

Photo © Apple Corps Ltd.

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The Beatles' Final Song: Giles Martin On The Second Life Of "Now And Then" & How The Fab Four Are "Still Breaking New Ground"

The wait is over: The Beatles will release their final song, "Now and Then," on Nov. 2. Read an interview with remixer Giles Martin about the decades-in-the-making parting gift, as well as remixed, expanded 'Red' and 'Blue' albums.

GRAMMYs/Oct 26, 2023 - 02:16 pm

The Beatles and grief have always been fundamentally intertwined. When John Lennon and Paul McCartney met as teenagers, they bonded over losing their mothers early on. Their manager, Brian Epstein, died in 1967 at only 32; as McCartney put it during the ensuing Get Back sessions, "Daddy's gone away now, you know, and we're on our own at the holiday camp."

Lennon's murder in 1980, at just 40 years old, imbued their story with bottomless longing — not just between this band of brothers, but a world that had to process the Beatles were never coming back. George Harrison's death from cancer, in 2001, was another catastrophic blow.

But the Beatles' message, among many, was that the light prevails. And from "In My Life" to "Eleanor Rigby" to "Julia" to "Let it Be" and beyond, almost nobody made sorrow sound so beautiful. And "Now and Then," billed as "the last Beatles song" — yes, the AI-assisted one you heard about throughout 2023 — is liable to move you to the depths of your soul.

A quick AI sidebar: no, it's not the generative type. Rather, it's the technology Peter Jackson and company used to separate theretofore indivisible instruments and voices for the Get Back documentary. It also worked in spectacular fashion for Giles Martin's — son of George — 2022 remix of Revolver.

*The cassette edition of "Now and Then." Photo © Apple Corps Ltd.*

With this tech, Martin and his team were able to lift a Lennon vocal from a late-'70s piano-and-vocals demo of "Now and Then," a song he was workshopping at the time. (Remember "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love," the reconstituted Beatles songs from the Anthology era? "Now and Then" was the third one they tried — and, until now, aborted.)

The final version of "Now and Then" features Lennon's crystal-clear, isolated vocal, as well as Harrison's original vocal and rhythm guitar from that 1995 session. McCartney adds piano and guitar, including a radiant slide guitar solo in homage to Harrison. Ringo Starr holds down the groove and joins on vocals.

"Now and Then" is more than a worthy parting gift from the most beloved rock band of all time. And you can experience it a la carte or as part of the Red and Blue albums — the Beatles' epochal, color-coded 1973 hit compilations, remixed by Martin, with expanded tracklistings, out Nov. 10.

Ahead of "Now and Then," which will arrive on Nov. 2, read an interview with Martin about his approach to the emotionally steamrolling single — and the host of Beatles classics that flank it on Red and Blue.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

What was the thinking behind the expansion of the Red and Blue albums?

That kind of stemmed from "Now and Then," really. You know, we finished "Now and Then," and then there was the thought about, OK, it can't go on an album. What are we going to put it on?

There was a thought about trying to respect people's listening tastes. And the fact that they've changed — and the No. 1s, for example, don't really reflect the most popular Beatles songs that people are listening to.

Then, we realized it was the 50th anniversary of Red and Blue. For a whole generation — much older than you, my generation — the Red and Blue albums have this sort of gravitas behind them. I know all the tracklistings; even though I think I was 3, when they came out, we had them at home.

So, we decided to do the Red and Blue albums — which took quite a long time, because there was quite a lot of stuff to do on them.

Since you've remixed all the Beatles albums from Sgt. Pepper's onward, I've been glued to the pre-1967 material — this is the first time I've heard your touch on their early work. Remixing songs as early as 1962 must have been a whole different ballgame.

In all honesty, that was the fun bit.

You know, we couldn't have worked on these songs six months ago; the technology had to be developed in place so we could do this — separate drums, bass and guitar, and have the different elements. And they sound good; it doesn't sound strange or artifact-y in any way.

I think people will talk about "Now and Then" for "Now and Then." But I [also] think the true innovations come back from the early Beatles stuff. The way that it pops out; the way that the records still sound like the same records. Hopefully, the character doesn't change, but the energy is different.

Ringo always said, "We're just a bunch of punks in the studios," and they sound like a bunch of punks in the studios. Now, they sound the age they were when they played it.

And that's so key to me, to making these records — that they sound like that. You know, they were way younger than Harry Styles is now, when they were making these records. People think they're old guys, and they're not.

That, to me, is important, in a way. We get old — I hate to break that to you, but we do get old. And recordings, by their nature, stay the same age. And the Beatles will always be that age on those records.

I think, now, they sound like a bunch of young guys in the studios bashing their instruments, and I think that's really exciting, and the technology we've applied has enabled us to, bizarrely, strip back the inadequacies of the technologies they had.

And I don't mean that in a pompous way. What I mean is that my dad never wanted the Beatles to be coming out of one speaker, and then coming out of another speaker. They didn't want the two tracks to be like that. He hated it. He hated it.

But now, we can have the drums coming out of the middle, like a record is now. He can luxuriate in that, and I think it's fun and exciting.

I'm noticing so many heretofore-obscured details in their early work. The vocal flub on "Please Please Me." The maniacal bongos that power "A Hard Day's Night."

I think you're right, but I think from experience — which, actually, I have a lot of now — there is a beauty in the reality.

What I mean by that is: so much music is perfect, and it's fabricated. There are checks and balances that go on, to make sure that everything is in tune, in time. And all this stuff goes on, which is fine and it suits a place. But it's a bit like the dangers of plastic surgery — everyone ends up looking the same.

And in records, everyone's sounding the same. We dial in so it's exciting, and it becomes boring, essentially, is what I mean.

The excitement you get from hearing a mistake in a song you've heard for years doesn't necessarily demean the song itself. It doesn't make you think, Oh my god, the band is s—. You think, Oh my god, what's exciting is these are humans. These are human beings in a room, making noise.

People go, "Well, who's responsible for the sound of the Beatles? Is it your dad? Is it Geoff Emerick? Is It Norman Smith…" blah, blah, blah. I go, "No, it's the Beatles. It's the fact they're four friends in a room. They make that noise."

And that's the thing about great bands; great bands make a great noise together, and they don't even know how they do it themselves. That's the beauty of it.

It's like, why do you love someone? "Well, because they're nice to me," or because they're whatever. You can't explain things; they just happen. And there's something about "Please Please Me," all that early stuff — you can hear it. It's something just happening, and that's so exciting. God, I sound like such an old hippie.

The Beatles in 1962

*The Beatles in The Cavern, Liverpool, August 1962. Photo © Apple Corps Ltd.*

Your first Beatles remix project, for Sgt. Pepper's, came out five years ago. On the other side of the coin, The Blue Album features songs from that dense, psychedelic era, like "I Am the Walrus," which is such a beast. That must have been a different kind of fun.

Yeah, well, "Walrus" is a beast. I've actually gone back and re-changed the stereo [mix] recently, because I got asked questions like, "Why did I change the end section so it didn't sound like the original?" I was thinking, Did I? I didn't do it deliberately. It's just the balance of speech versus vocals and stuff like that.

I was very lucky, because "Walrus" was on the Love album and show. I tackled a version of that before, and know how tricky it is.

Because by its nature, "Walrus" sounds technically bad, but it's beautiful. It's beautifully ugly as a record, and they're the hardest ones, because you don't want to take away the character. You don't want to remove the grime, because the grime is the record. I spent a lot of time looking at this and doing this — hopefully, we're in a good place with "Walrus."

You know, music's about, How does this make you feel? You don't want to feel secure around "Walrus" at any stage; you want to be unnerved by it. People sort of ask about plugins and technology, and it's like, it's not about that — something you can get on a shelf. How it makes you feel is the most important thing.

You once said that a White Album remix couldn't be too smooth — it's "slightly trashy. It's visceral. It slaps you in the face." I thought of that while listening to the remixed "Old Brown Shoe"; George's vocal is way grimy on that one.

This is going to sound really ridiculous — and I've been through this with a number of different people — but my job is to make a record sound like how you remember it sounding. Because records never sound like how we remember them sounding. And you go back and go, Was that really there?

Some people accuse me of doing stuff that I haven't done, or maybe forgot to do, or whatever. But the fact of the matter is that we kid ourselves all the time, and we fill in the blanks constantly.

It's like, "What about the vocal of 'Old Brown Shoe'? Why does it sound like this?" And I go, "Well, it sounds like that on the record." It's part of the character of the record. If it was too clean, it wouldn't sound [right].

George was very particular at that stage. He didn't get many goes, is the way I would say it, because he wasn't given enough songs.

There's a story [Beatles engineer] Ken Scott told about The White Album, of him doing "Savoy Truffle" — which is incredibly bright as a song, by the way. And my dad apparently went, "You know, it sounds quite bright, George." And he goes, "I know, and I like it." Like, "I know, and f— off," basically.

You have to respect the artists' wishes when you're doing these things, even though they're not there. Yeah, on "Old Brown Shoe," the vocal's quite strange. But that's what George wanted it to sound like, and [far be it from] me to say it shouldn't sound like that.

The Beatles in 1965

*The Beatles in 1965. Photo © Apple Corps Ltd.*

What's your understanding of the extent of the work the Beatles put into "Now and Then" back in 1995, before they aborted it?

I wasn't there, so I'm just going to speculate. What Paul played me — what we worked on together — was kind of after he'd looked at the material they did together.

Far be it from me to argue with a Beatle: there were some things that I thought we should change from that recording. There were a few synth [things], which I thought, once we decided to put strings on it, [weren't necessary].

You know, the key thing is that George is playing on it. Therefore, it is, by definition, a Beatles song, because all four of them are on it. People ask me, "Why is this the last Beatles song?" Well, there's not another song. There won't; there can't be another song where all four Beatles are playing on it.

So, there were bits and pieces that were used and not used. I don't think they spent a lot of time working on it, but essentially, what we kept was George — and obviously, John's vocal, which then we looked at.

Listening, I was thinking, Thank god that George tracked a rhythm guitar part and harmony vocal back then. Or else, this couldn't happen. Or, if it happened, you and your team would never hear the end of it.

What was interesting was, we did the string arrangement. I sat down with Paul in L.A., and there are lots of chugs and "Eleanor Rigby" kinds of ripoffs in the string arrangement.

And what essentially happened was, Paul spent a lot of time listening to what George was playing on the guitar, and it really changed the arrangement. It's in service to the guitar; it doesn't go against George's playing. They were completely respectful of the other Beatles, and made sure it was a collaboration, and it was all four of them.

As Yoko said to me, "John is just a voice now." And I think it sounds like the Beatles, "Now and Then."

Looking at the post-"Now and Then" Beatles landscape, I'm enticed by which Beatles albums you'll remix next. The select tracks on Red and Blue open a door to what Rubber Soul or Beatles For Sale redux might sound like.

Technology doesn't — and never has — made great records, but it creates a pathway. You can do certain things that you couldn't do in the past. And the most exciting thing for me is — as you say — it does open that door to that early material, which we couldn't have done before.

I suppose fortuitously, we kind of worked backwards, in a way — and it made sense to do that. I couldn't have done what I've done on The Red Album even six months ago, probably; it's that quick. I love the fact that the Beatles are still breaking new ground with technology that will pave the way for other artists.

The Beatles in 1969

*The Beatles during a photo session in Twickenham, 9 April 1969. Photo: Bruce McBroom / © Apple Corps Ltd.*

I can't imagine what this next week of "Now and Then" promotion will be like. There's an incredible weight to this. You must be feeling that.

Well, I mean, there's some perspective. My mom's just died. So, it's like [dark laugh] what's important in life?

It's a funny time. We just talked about her funeral arrangements, and she's getting buried the day, I think, the record comes out. So, there are personal things for me in this.

I've been doing interviews this week, and people have asked me, "How do you feel about what your motivation was?" Somebody was saying I'm talking about the Beatles as a resource, or whatever. I go, "You do these things and hope people get touched by stuff."

When you say you enjoy "Now and Then," that's really nice, because that's why we do it. We do it so people can listen to stuff and not just hear it. "Now and Then" sounds like a love song. It sounds like a song that John wrote for Paul, and the other Beatles: "I miss you/ Now and then."

It sounds like Paul has gone there, which I think he did. You know, no one told Paul to go and do it, and Paul didn't go, This would be a great exercise for the Red and Blue Album.

He was at home in the studio. He dug on the record and started working on it, because it's his mate. And he really misses John. I mean, that's the truth. They broke up, and John died nine years later. It really isn't very long.

So, I hope that people listen to the record and they think about loved ones. Or they think about things. That's what I hope. I don't really care about anything else — do you know what I mean? What I'm excited by is people being touched by it.

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The Gaslight Anthem's Comeback Album 'History Books' Makes A Case For Meeting Your Heroes
Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem

Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

interview

The Gaslight Anthem's Comeback Album 'History Books' Makes A Case For Meeting Your Heroes

On 'History Books' — the Gaslight Anthem's first album in nine years — the New Jersey punks sound hungry again. Brian Fallon explains how friendship with Bruce Springsteen, dinner with Jon Bon Jovi and mental health inspired the band's latest.

GRAMMYs/Oct 25, 2023 - 03:00 pm

Seventeen years ago, Brian Fallon and the rest of the Gaslight Anthem — guitarist Alex Rosamilia, bassist Alex Levine, and drummer Benny Horowitz — were just trying to hold onto the dream. 

New Jersey’s communal culture of DIY punk brought them years of friendship and freedom from square jobs, but entering their late 20s, Fallon and co. had played in countless bands that flamed out or left them unfulfilled. Formed in 2006, the Gaslight Anthem was their final shot. "That’s why we called our first record Sink or Swim," Fallon tells GRAMMY.com. 

They swam. That 2007 debut signaled a sea change: In the early 2000s, punk bands were not repping Bruce Springsteen. They were absolutely not namechecking Tom Petty. Here was a punk band from the same streets as the Misfits, Bouncing Souls, and My Chemical Romance, writing great songs draped in the Americana of their parents’ generation. By the time the Boss himself joined Gaslight onstage at Glastonbury Festival 2009, their sophomore album The ‘59 Sound had made them one of the world’s most acclaimed new rock bands. 

The Gaslight Anthem mined its tried and true sound for two more albums,but half a decade of non-stop touring and creative pressure was starting to take its toll. 2014’s Get Hurt, a moodier record inspired by Fallon’s recent divorce, received mixed reviews. A year later, the band was on ice. They reformed in 2018 to perform 10-year anniversary shows for The ‘59 Sound but disappeared soon after. Fallon released singer/songwriter-oriented solo albums into the 2020s and kept in touch with his old bandmates, but it wasn’t the same. 

On Oct. 27, the Gaslight Anthem releases History Books, its first album in nine years. It’s an earthy, battle-tested rock record from a veteran band that sounds hungry again, their first self-released album after an amicable split with Island Records. The title track features a duet with Bruce Springsteen, the pair’s first studio collaboration after years of friendship. 

GRAMMY.com caught up with Fallon to discuss  what years of (humble) rock stardom brought him: a hard-earned appreciation for Gaslight Anthem’s past and a new understanding of the demons rattling in his brain.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

What made you want to get the band back together? 

I don’t think it was anything other than being inspired to write. I wouldn’t say that being inside for two years didn’t have a hand in that. At some point, you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, I had this band and we played big shows. It’s fun. A lot of people like it. It sounds like a good idea… I gotta do this. I have something else to say.

When the band was inactive, how much did the four of you stay in touch?

We don’t call each other every day, but we stayed current on the things going on in everybody’s life.

The whole thing is more about being friends. We’ve been through things no one else has seen. We’ve slept on floors in another country in a youth center with bugs crawling on you when you’re sleeping. And the only people that understand that are those other three. 

It’s been almost a decade since Gaslight Anthem released its last album, Get Hurt. Now that there’s some space to look back on it, why do you think the band went its separate ways after that album? 

We all felt that strain. In 2015, you couldn’t really say, as a musician, "Hey, I need to not be on tour because I’m going crazy. I need to sort my mental health out." People would just be like, "We’re going onto the next band. Bye. Your career is over." 

So when we pulled the plug, everyone was like, "Why are you doing this?" Well, so we don’t die. So we don’t hate ourselves, that’s why. We knew it wasn’t the band. We knew it wasn’t each other. I think we just needed to stop the landslide.

Do you think this had to do with being in the major label ecosystem? You came up releasing albums on punk rock labels, so I’m interested how you think it all compares.

I would love to sit here and tell you that the pressure is only in the major label world and that it’s the evil major label corporate overlords who do this to bands, but it is absolutely not. It comes from the smallest indie label of some dude in his basement, all the way up. My experience on majors was maybe even a little more sensitive. If you’re running a small label and you have excitement built up, you’re like, "Whoa! This is working on a big level!" You’re so excited that you’re like, "You gotta do this! You gotta do that!"

I’m not saying any of the labels we were on were like, "You gotta do this!," but there was definitely, "Well, if you don’t play this radio show, they’re not gonna play your record." 

Now, people are a little more in tune to what’s going on, but [10 to 15 years ago] for sure, it was like, this is your only opportunity ever! Well, no, it’s not the only opportunity ever. There’s other opportunities. 

Did it feel like people knew what to do with you at Island Records?

We had a real big champion at the time in the president, David Massey. He was the person who signed us. Bon Jovi and U2 had been on Island for a while and contemporary to us, was the Killers. Every time the Killers did something good, it gave us a little more freedom because they were the other rock band on the label. We liked [the Killers] and they liked us. They covered one of our songs ["American Slang"] at one of their shows in New York [in 2017]. It was like having a big brother on the label, paving a path. 

When we got back together, we weren't really on Island, but they could have made us make a record [for Island]. We don’t own anything. I don’t own [the masters for] Sink or Swim. I don’t own ‘59 Sound. Nothing. So we wanted to own it, now. We wanted to do our own label, with [independent distribution company] Thirty Tigers, where it’s much more of, "You’re the label, you make the decisions." 

How did "History Books" with Bruce come together?

I’m not one to shoot my shot, so to speak. Which has not been great for my career, I guess. But if somebody wants to do something for you, let them do it, you know? I never asked Bruce for anything. 

We were talking and I was saying, "Yeah, we’re putting the band back together and working on some songs." He just said, "Why don’t you write a duet for us?" I was like, "What? Alright!" You have to understand that, for me, sitting here and saying, "Why don’t you whip up a duet for me and Bruce Springsteen?" – that to me is like saying, "Why don’t I write a book for Ernest Hemingway? Why don’t I write Jimi Hendrix a guitar solo?" 

So I went away and I would say to myself, Alright, the next one is for Bruce. I’ll write the next song for Bruce. I just kept writing the songs to get them out, without the pressure. And at the end of it all, I just said, "Which song would Bruce sound good singing on?" Everybody just said "History Books." Cool! And then we sent it to him. 

What did he say when you sent him the song? 

He said, "Cool, I’ll get it done." He was in Dublin on tour and he just did it. 

After knowing him all these years, why do you think now was the time he proposed writing a song together?

With the band back and writing new material, it was just the right time. I don’t think there was a time before this where it would have been good for us to have done. 

Now, we’ve gone down a path enough to where we can embrace Bruce, New Jersey, our influences. We’re able to comfortably have that be our home.

When you’re around Bruce, do you get nervous? 

Imagine you’re seven years old, you’re reading your comic books, and then all of a sudden Batman jumps out of the comic book in your room and goes, "Hey, you wanna go fight crime tonight?" It’s insane to be in the presence of a person that’s that famous, and that influential to you. It’s not a thing a normal person can comprehend. And I can not comprehend this. 

Reading the lyrics to this album, I thought you were referencing your mental health a lot. Can you share what's been going on during the several years of your life?

It feels like everybody in America’s got things on their mind, especially the last couple years. I got to a point where the days felt like they were harder than they should have been. It’s like pushing a rock up a hill when you’re doing that every day, and you get tired. You’re dealing with stuff in your mind that you can’t quite… there’s not an event that causes you to feel a certain way. There’s no cause, so you can’t predict it. And that becomes extremely frustrating.

You turn to other things, or you get help and say, I don’t think I can do this on my own. I need someone else alongside me." That’s the point I got to. I got a therapist. There’s not a special rockstar line that people call, or if there is, I don’t have that number. I just went to the doctor and said, "I don’t feel right." 

Did these feelings get  buried during Gaslight Anthem’s more active years, only to come out during the pandemic when things got quieter?

I think it was coming anyway. Whether there was time to deal with it or not. The band slowing down before the pandemic was part of that, needing some time and space. That was why the band stopped, because it was like a steamroller. It’s like you have another mental illness, which is the anxiety of the pressure of feeling like you have to be excited. And that’s where the tidal wave starts… You feel guilty ‘cause you’re like, "I should be grateful. I’m in a band." And you are grateful, but you’re also struggling, and it’s freaking hard! 

[Mental health] comes up a lot in the song "Positive Charge"… I wrote it about that struggle. But this isn’t the mental health record. I’ve been writing long enough where I can steer the boat so it’s not a diary entry anymore. 

Back in 2021, you played a fundraiser in New Jersey alongside Jon Bon Jovi and Johnny Rzeznik from the Goo Goo Dolls. What was that like? 

We were doing a benefit for the reelection of the Governor of New Jersey [Democrat Phil Murphy]. Jon Bon Jovi reached out to my manager and wanted me to play. Whoopi Goldberg was hosting. Insane stuff. 

Jon Bon Jovi wanted to meet for dinner beforehand. At the same time, I was really thinking about the band. On the way in the car, I said to my wife, "I think I wanna get the band back together." I had not spoken of this prior, so this blew her mind. 

We sit down at the table, and it’s Jon Bon Jovi and John Rzeznik. I didn’t expect them to be familiar with my band, because they’re giant songwriters. They were just genuinely interested in what we had done, talking about the songs they liked. When we left, my wife was like, "That’s a sign. If there’s a sign, that’s a sign."

I’ve met famous people who are completely off the planet. They’re just not interested in having a normal conversation. They just revel in the absurdity of their fame. I could relate to [Bon Jovi and Rzeznik] because the one common denominator is we all came from nothing. And now we’re in bands that achieved some amount of success. 

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