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More Performers Added To Bob Dylan Tribute

Jackson Browne, Alanis Morissette, Aaron Neville, and Bruce Springsteen added to 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute concert; former President Jimmy Carter to present award to Bob Dylan

GRAMMYs/Jan 27, 2015 - 01:23 am

GRAMMY winners Alanis Morissette, Aaron Neville, Bruce Springsteen, Susan Tedeschi, and Derek Trucks; and GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Jackson Browne are the latest performers added to the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute concert honoring Bob Dylan on Feb. 6 in Los Angeles. Former President and current 57th GRAMMY nominee Jimmy Carter will present Dylan with the MusiCares Person of the Year award.

Previously announced performers are GRAMMY winners Beck; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Norah Jones; Tom Jones; Los Lobos; John Mellencamp; Willie Nelson; Bonnie Raitt; Eddie Vedder; Jack White; and Neil Young; as well as singer/songwriter John Doe. Three-time GRAMMY-winning producer and recent Emmy winner Don Was will be the evening's musical director.

Dylan is being honored as the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year in recognition of his extraordinary creative accomplishments. Proceeds from the annual Person of the Year tribute — now in its 25th year — will provide essential support for MusiCares, which ensures that music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical and personal need.

The MusiCares Person of the Year tribute ceremony is one of the most prestigious events held during GRAMMY Week. The celebration culminates with the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 8. The telecast will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

GRAMMY-Winning U.S. Presidents & Politicians: The Obamas, Jimmy Carter & More
(L-R) Alicia Keys and Michelle Obama at the 2019 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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GRAMMY-Winning U.S. Presidents & Politicians: The Obamas, Jimmy Carter & More

In honor of Presidents' Day, salute the former presidents, first ladies and other political figures that have won or been nominated for a golden gramophone including Bernie Sanders and John F. Kennedy.

GRAMMYs/Feb 19, 2024 - 02:03 pm

Presidents and politicians aren't the first people usually associated with GRAMMY season, but surprisingly, several of them — and first ladies, too — have added golden gramophones to their collections of awards.

In fact, at the 2024 GRAMMYs, former First Lady Michelle Obama claimed her second GRAMMY, for her bestselling memoir, The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. Four years earlier, her first bestselling book, Becoming, which documented her rise from Chicago's South Side to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, also won a GRAMMY (more on her and husband Barack later).

Obama's latest victory is one of several political GRAMMY wins and nominations that date back to 1965. At the 7th GRAMMY Awards, the late former President John F. Kennedy and former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson — who ran for president twice — each earned nominations for their contributions to The Kennedy Wit, a compilation of Kennedy's most famous and humorous anecdotes. The audio version was nominated for Best Documentary, Spoken Word Or Drama Recording (Other Than Comedy).

And though those nominations didn't turn into wins, there have been a few political figures who have won the coveted trophies. This Presidents' Day, we salute the former presidents, their spouses and even some would-be presidents who sit among the ranks of GRAMMY winners.

Jimmy Carter

Leading the pack is the 39th U.S. president, Jimmy Carter, who has three wins out of nine nominations to his credit, making him the most honored politician in GRAMMY history. All of his wins and nominations are in the Best Spoken Word Album Category.

The prolific Carter won his first GRAMMY at the 48th ceremony in 2006 for Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis and his most recent for Faith: A Journey for All at the 61st telecast in 2018. He also won in 2015 for A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.

Carter earned his first GRAMMY nomination in 1997, 17 years after leaving office, for the audio adaptation of his 13th book, Living Faith. His other nods came in 1998, 2001, 2007, 2009 and 2014.

Bill & Hillary Rodham Clinton

Former president Bill Clinton earned two terms in 1992 and 1996, but Hillary Rodham Clinton, his first lady, beat him to GRAMMYs glory. Not long after he won re-election in 1996, Hillary won her first GRAMMY for It Takes a Village, which won Best Spoken Word Album at the 39th ceremony in 1997. Her album Living History landed a second nomination in the Category in 2004; though she didn't take home the GRAMMY, Bill was a winner that year. He won Best Spoken Word Album For Children for his role in Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf/Beintus: Wolf Tracks

The following year, at the 47th GRAMMYs, Bill won in the Best Spoken Word Album Category for his memoir, My Life. Additional nominations followed in 2007 for Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, and in 2012 for Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy, both in the same Category.

The Clinton administration also (sort of) had a claim on Best Spoken Word Album at the 51st GRAMMYs in 2009, thanks to Cynthia Nixon's audiobook reading of the bestseller An Inconvenient Truth, written by Al Gore, who served as vice president under Clinton during both terms.

Barack & Michelle Obama

The Obama family may not have penned as many books as Carter (at least not yet), but collectively, former president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle outpace him with four GRAMMYs, two apiece. 

Barack's two wins are both in the Best Spoken Word Album Category for audio adaptations of two books published before his presidency: the memoir Dreams from My Father in 2005 and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream in 2007. His third nomination in the Category came at the 64th GRAMMY awards in 2022 for "A Promised Land."

As previously mentioned, Michelle Obama is two for two with her GRAMMY nominations. She first won for her 2018 memoir, Becoming, which took home Best Spoken Word Album at the 62nd GRAMMYs in 2020, and four years later, she won Best Audio Book, Narration, And Storytelling Recording for The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. (And before any of her nominations, in 2019, Michelle was part of a girl-powered surprise intro segment alongside Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Jada Pinkett Smith and then-host Alicia Keys.)

Notable Nominations

Thirteen years after John F. Kennedy earned the first presidential GRAMMY nomination, former President Harry S. Truman was nominated for "The Truman Tapes," in the Best Spoken Word Recording Category (which is the same as Kennedy's Best Documentary or Spoken Word Recording (Other Than Comedy) Category, and is now known as the Best Audio Book, Narration & Storytelling Recording as of press time) in 1978.

Former President Richard Nixon earned a nomination in the same Category the next year, for his televised interviews with journalist David Frost, packaged as The Nixon Interviews With David Frost.

In 2015 — five years before her 2020 presidential run — Sen. Elizabeth Warren earned her first GRAMMY nomination for the adaptation of her bestselling book, A Fighting Chance, in the Best Spoken Word Album Category at the 57th GRAMMYs.

U.S. Senator and two-time presidential candidate Bernie Sanders earned a nomination in the same Category in 2017, for the reading of Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In. Like Michelle Obama, he earned his second GRAMMY nomination at the 2024 GRAMMYs, in the same category as the victorious former first lady (Best Audio Book, Narration, And Storytelling Recording) for his book It's Ok To Be Angry About Capitalism

With two GRAMMY nominations (and one win) in 2024, it's clear that, even nearly 60 years on, political figures will continue to be prominent in the GRAMMY sphere. 

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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.

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New Holiday Songs For 2023: Listen To Festive Releases From Aespa, Brandy, Sabrina Carpenter & More
Jimmy Fallon & Meghan Trainor perform their song "Wrap Me Up" on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in November 2023.

Photo: Randy Holmes/DISNEY via Getty Images

New Holiday Songs For 2023: Listen To Festive Releases From Aespa, Brandy, Sabrina Carpenter & More

With the Christmas season in full swing, it’s time to deck the halls and load up those holiday playlists. Check out 14 new songs and projects to add to your 2023 festivities.

GRAMMYs/Dec 4, 2023 - 06:39 pm

It's the most wonderful time of year! With every holiday season comes a new outpouring of festive music, and this year is no different.

From pop and R&B to K-pop and country, artists from all genres revel in the season as they pen new, original Christmas songs and reinterpret well-loved classics. This year, GRAMMY winners like Brandy and Samara Joy deliver full-length albums, while rising stars like Sabrina Carpenter, Mimi Webb and Coco Jones add their own contributions like shiny new baubles on a sparkling Christmas tree. 

Below, GRAMMY.com rounded up 14 new holiday releases worth checking out, from Alanis Morissette's first Christmas EP to new projects by Aly & AJ and Gavin DeGraw, and even a posthumous duet between Elvis Presley and Kane Brown

aespa, "Jingle Bell Rock"

Need some K-pop for your holiday playlist? Look no further than aespa's take on "Jingle Bell Rock." The girl group takes Bobby Helms' 1957 hit to the metaverse by giving it a slinky edge punctuated by handclaps, toy piano and glitchy undertones. Members GISELLE and NINGNING even add their own laid-back rap verse to the proceedings, casually tossing off lyrics like, "Ring, ring, ring, jingle bell rock/ Play like a spell/ I won't tell, jingle bell talk" partway through the track.

Aly & AJ, Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove isn't Aly & AJ's first Christmas project — that would be their excellent 2006 LP Acoustic Hearts of Winter — but the siblings have come a long way from the Disney days of their last holiday record. Just look at "Greatest Time of Year," which they've plucked from the Acoustic Hearts track list and transformed from into a delicate slowburner perfect to be sung by the fireside. Then there's the pitch-perfect cover of "Sisters," which proves the only way to improve upon Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen's eternally iconic number from 1954's White Christmas is for it to be recorded by, you know, actual sisters.

Brandy, Christmas With Brandy

Considering she's been called the "Vocal Bible" since she rose to stardom in the '90s, a Christmas album makes all the sense in the world for Brandy. On Christmas with Brandy, the R&B sensation — and star of Netflix's new holiday flick Best. Christmas. Ever. — eschews the scriptural in favor of the romantic ("Christmas Party For Two"), the hopeful ("Someday at Christmas") and the celebratory ("Christmas Gift" with daughter Sy'Rai) — all with her trademark gossamer runs and riffs in full, glistening effect.

Kane Brown and Elvis Presley, "Blue Christmas"

Fresh off his performance in NBC's "Christmas at Graceland" special, Kane Brown turns his live version of "Blue Christmas" into a full-blown duet with Elvis Presley himself. The King famously released his iconic version of the holiday classic in 1957 — as well as a live version more than a decade later — and Brown wisely sticks to Presley's tried-and-true formula on their duet by trading verses, while letting Elvis' iconic voice shine.

Sabrina Carpenter, Fruitcake

Sabrina Carpenter created a recipe for a holiday hit last year thanks to "A Nonsense Christmas," a cheeky seasonal remake of her top 10 pop hit "Nonsense." This year, she doubles the recipe on Fruitcake, a delectable slice of Christmas goodness that's equal parts sweet and sour.

On the winking "Buy Me Presents," the pop chanteuse demands the undivided attention of her lover while "Cindy Lou Who" turns the sweetest character in Dr. Seuss' oeuvre into a man-stealing Jolene of Christmas nightmares. "Is It New Year's Yet" revels in an irresistible spirit of pessimism that'll have all of Carpenter's fans saying "Bah humbug!" with glee.

Gavin DeGraw, A Classic Christmas

Eighteen months since Gavin DeGraw's last album, 2022's understated Face the River, the crooner turns up the yuletide cheer — with all the trimming and trappings — for his first holiday record. Each song on the six-track EP stays true to the title, as strings, sleigh bells and tradition combine with DeGraw's soulful timbre on standards like "The Most Wonderful Time of Year," "Silent Night" and "White Christmas."

Kirk Franklin, "Joy To The World"

Kirk Franklin cooked up an extra-special gift for his Spotify Singles Holiday rendition of "Joy to the World." Enlisting a buoyant backing choir, the 19-time GRAMMY winner adds a thoughtful spoken word element over the music, telling listeners everywhere, "This year I offer you the gift of unity. The gift of harmony. Bring us together like never before this holiday season. Find room in your heart. Listen. Can you hear it?"

Coco Jones, "A Timeless Christmas"

Determined to make 2023 a year to remember, Coco Jones follows her five 2024 GRAMMY nominations — including one for Best New Artist — with "A Timeless Christmas." On the original song, the R&B breakout aims to unwrap a holiday filled with family, joy and love as she intones, "Cherish the moment with the people that surround you/ Live in the moment today/ Let's have a timeless Christmas/ Let's just come together in harmony as one forever."

Samara Joy, A Joyful Holiday

Just months after releasing Linger Awhile Longer — the deluxe edition of her 2022 studio album — Samara Joy returns with A Joyful Holiday, a festive EP filled with jazzy originals and standards alike. The 2023 Best New Artist GRAMMY winner taps jazz pianist Sullivan Fortner on "Twinkle Twinkle Little Me" and turns on the feels on opener "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." But perhaps the most special moment of the record happens when three generations of her family join her for a gospel-fueled take on "O Holy Night," filled with stunning harmonies.

Ingrid Michaelson, "This Christmas"

Ingrid Michaelson has supplied plenty of cozy and nostalgic Christmas tunes ever since releasing her 2018 album Songs of the Season, but she doubles down on the warm fireside sounds with her new single "This Christmas." Though it shares a title with the beloved Donny Hathaway track, Michaelson's original song finds beauty in the stillness and small details of the season — from the wonder in a child's eyes as snow falls swirls to the ground to family gathered around the piano.

Alanis Morissette, Last Christmas

After gifting fans a string of holiday singles over the past few years, Alanis Morissette has finally compiled the songs into a full Christmas-themed project. The four-track EP Last Christmas contains three of the alt pioneer’s past releases: 2020’s rousing and poignant “Happy Xmas (War Is Over) and pandemic-era take on “What Child Is This” as well as last year’s “Little Drummer Boy.” However, she saved a shiny new toy for last in the form of a surprisingly peppy cover of Wham!’s modern classic “Last Christmas.”

Jon Pardi, Merry Christmas From Jon Pardi

It's a full-blown Christmas Pardi, ahem, party on Jon Pardi's fifth album, the aptly-titled Merry Christmas From Jon Pardi. The recent Grand Ole Opry inductee appoints Rudolph a designated driver on "Beer For Santa," is unfazed by a ferocious blizzard thanks to "400 Horsepower Sleigh" and sheds his ugly Christmas sweater to celebrates the holiday on the beach with "Merry Christmas From The Keys." But he's also unafraid to put a country spin on the likes of Mariah Carey's timeless smash "All I Want for Christmas Is You," and holiday classics like "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" and "Please Come Home For Christmas."

Meghan Trainor, "Jingle Bells"

Meghan Trainor has delivered Christmas goodies in the past (2020's A Very Trainor Christmas, last year's "Kid on Christmas" with Pentatonix), but this year she teamed up with Amazon Music for an exclusive rendition of "Jingle Bells." There's only a 30-second preview available without Amazon Music, but in the event you're not a subscriber, check out Trainor's other holiday offering of the season: her duet with Jimmy Fallon titled "Wrap Me Up."

Mimi Webb, "Back Home For Christmas"

In the wake of her debut studio album, Amelia, Mimi Webb tackles her first original holiday track in the form of "Back Home For Christmas." The lovelorn single is filled with church bells and yearning galore as the rising pop starlet wails, "Just like that, first of December/ Counting down 'til we're together/ Only one thing on my wishlist/ Bring my love back home for Christmas/ Mistletoe making me lonely/ Santa Claus just can't console me/ Only one thing that I'm missin'/ Bring my love back home for Christmas." 

Clearly, the Christmas season can make you feel all sorts of ways, from nostalgic and cozy to lonely, filled with hope and back again.

15 Must-Hear Albums This December: ATEEZ, Nicki Minaj, Neil Young & More

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

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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. 

On New Album 'Jonny,' The Drums' Jonny Pierce Is Finished "Setting Myself Up To Lose"