Photo: Chris Kleinmeier
Tour Diary: See Parker McCollum's Favorite Photos & Memories From His Biggest Year On The Road Yet
Go backstage with country star Parker McCollum on his sold-out North American tour, which has seen him play the most iconic venues of his career, from the Houston Rodeo to Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
From the beginning of Parker McCollum's career, touring has been ingrained in what he does — down to his very first single, 2013's "Highway," which was inspired by life on the road.
"Lord have mercy on a young man's soul/ There ain't nobody gonna love me livin' on this road," he sings in the first verse. "Gotta keep on moving/ Keep on traveling strong."
Luckily for McCollum, the lonesome tale of "Highway" hasn't become his touring life. Not only has the Texas-born country star found a lifelong partner to join him on the road — his wife, Hallie Ray Light — but he's continued to play bigger and bigger venues. And 2023 has marked his most remarkable touring year so far.
McCollum has headlined arenas and amphitheaters around the United States, played stadiums as direct support for Morgan Wallen, and most recently sold out Colorado's iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Aug. 10.
"Being out on the road this year has been one of the most hectic, challenging and rewarding years of touring I've ever done," the singer tells GRAMMY.com. "My album Never Enough is some of the best work of my career so far, and seeing fans respond to those songs is really special."
WIth three country radio No. 1s in a row — 2020's "Pretty Heart," 2021's "To Be Loved By You" and 2022's "Handle On You" — and his latest single, "Burn It Down," currently climbing, McCollum's unique brand of soulful, rock-influenced country music is clearly resonating. But in his eyes, the fans are the "driving force."
"Night after night they keep blowing me away with their support," McCollum adds. "Playing some of these massive venues with a sea of people singing the songs you worked your butt off on — man, that feeling really can't be put into words."
And McCollum isn't slowing down anytime soon. He has dates plotted all the way through the end of the year, closing out 2023 with a fitting return to Texas for New Year's Eve.
As McCollum continues his massive year, he shared photos and memories from some of his favorite shows. Take a look at the behind-the-scenes pics and hear from the singer/songwriter on why these shows were so special.
All photos by Chris Kleinmeier.
Feb. 28, Houston, Texas: Playing RodeoHouston has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I was blown away being asked to perform in 2022, and having a sold-out crowd that night filled with family and friends was everything I always dreamed it would be. Then, being asked to come back this year for RodeoHouston opening day to kick off the season — man, life really does feel like a movie sometimes.
April 16, New Mexico: Shooting the music video for my current single, "Burn It Down," was a wild experience. Probably my favorite video I've done so far! We decided to head out to the New Mexico desert and blow some stuff up! I even set my feet on fire for this one. The whole day was awesome — my band being there with me, and Hillary Lindsey (background vocals and one of my co-writers) being on set brought it all together.
April 30, Indio, California: My first time playing Stagecoach Festival in Indio, CA earlier this year. It was a hot one that day, but the crowd showed up and was with me from start to finish!
May 12, Austin, Texas: This was a really special day. I was back home in Texas for the release of my album, Never Enough, and stopped by Waterloo Records in Austin for an in-store event with fans. Even got to play a few of my favorites from the record. Thanks for bein' there y'all!
June 3, Wilmington, North Carolina: Being lucky enough to travel the country and meet all the amazing folks who continue to support me and my music is incredible. I wouldn't be able to do this without them, and seeing your faces each night, singing back every word, is something special. Thank y'all! This was a hell of a show.
June 10, Dallas, Texas: Having the opportunity to get on stage night after night doing what I love is something I'll never take for granted. Especially those nights when you're playing a show alongside a country music hero of mine, Gary Allan — makes it even better when it's in Dallas!
June 23, Chicago, Illinois: The most beautiful woman in the world right here! My wife has been supporting me, pushing me and making me the man I've always wanted to be since the day we met. I love you Hallie Ray and thank you for bein' on this crazy ride with me.
July 6, St. Louis, Missouri: As a performer I'm always looking to keep pushing myself and growing. When I get to join tours with incredible artists like Morgan Wallen at this show in St. Louis, I learn so much about what makes them tick and watching them do their thing up there. I'm inspired by just how much they give and see how much that means to the fans.
Aug. 10, Morrison, Colorado: Selling out at Red Rocks Amphitheatre is an incredible feeling. The venue itself is so iconic and makes for a really cool and unique concert experience for both the fans and the performers. Even had a legend on-stage with me that night! Thanks for coming out. Peyton Manning!
(Top) Jim Dyson/Getty Images, Astrida Valigorsky/WireImage, Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic (Center) Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, Frank Hoensch/Redferns, Munachi Osegbu, Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT, Dave Benett/Getty Images (Bottom) Dave Benett/Getty Images for Givenchy Beauty, Jim Dyson/Getty Images, Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
15 Must-Hear Albums Out In May: Jonas Brothers, Summer Walker, Paul Simon & More
From Sparks' offbeat 'The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte' to the heartfelt storytelling on Lewis Capaldi's 'Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent,' and growth set to R&B from Lola Young and Arlo Parks, check out 15 albums dropping this May.
Spring is in full bloom, and with it comes a slew of inspiring records and unmissable tours. May brings upon us the return of giants and some promising newcomers, and whether you like the country music of Parker McCollum or the Mexican pop of AQUIHAYAQUIHAY, this month's releases offer something to please every taste.
This month, the Jonas Brothers finally make their awaited return with The Album, while Ed Sheeran completes his math symbols series with Subtract. Paul Simon will turn dreams into reality with Seven Psalms, and Tuareg collective Tinariwen will continue their desert blues exploration on Amatssou. Early aughts pop-punk outfit the Exploding Hearts will get a remastered, expanded reissue, and dance music maven LP Giobbi will make her studio album debut with Light Places.
Below is a guide with 15 must-hear albums dropping May 2023. Read on for known names that might reignite your passion, and budding acts who will make your curiosity flourish.
Ed Sheeran - Subtract
Release date: May 5
Completing Ed Sheeran’s series of albums titled after mathematical symbols, Subtract (stylized as -), will feature 14 cuts that deal with the singer’s "fear, depression, and anxiety" throughout the hardships that shaped his past year, according to an Instagram post.
Sheeran added that his wife’s tumor diagnosis while pregnant, the death of his best friend Jamal Edwards, and a 2022 plagiarism trial "changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art," prompting him to scrap "a decade’s worth of work with my deepest, darkest thoughts."
Produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner, Subtract is billed as an acoustic album, ranging from "pared back, folk-leaning textures to bolder, full-band/orchestral arrangements," which can be seen through pre-release "Boat" and lead single "Eyes Closed."
Jonas Brothers - The Album
Release date: May 12
The Jonas Brothers’ sixth studio album has been teased since 2020, but after several delays (including the COVID-19 pandemic), the The Album will be unleashed into the world. The trio told Variety that the follow-up to 2019’s Happiness Begins "features elements of classic ’70s pop and Americana with a modern edge," and was inspired by another sibling trio — the Bee Gees — as well as rock bands the Doobie Brothers and America.
Produced by Jon Bellion (who is also the album’s only featured artist), most of its tracks were performed at the Jonas Brothers’ fifth and final Broadway show on March 18, 2023. However, expectations remain high as the album release will be accompanied by a yet-to-be-announced tour.
Kaytraminé - Kaytraminé
Release date: May 12
Fusing the talents of top-rated producer/DJ Kaytranada and rapper Aminé might have been one of the most ambitious efforts of 2023.
Although they have been frequent collaborators since 2013, including Kaytranada producing three songs out of Aminé's 2015 mixtape Calling Brio, this is the first time they unite forces for a whole record as Kaytraminé.
Parker McCollum - Never Enough
Release date: May 12
2021’s Gold Chain Cowboy set Parker McCollum on the path to becoming a country music star. The major label debut followed two self-released albums — 2015’s The Limestone Kid and 2017’s Probably Wrong, and ended up winning New Male Artist of the Year at the American Country Music Awards — as well as a double-platinum single, "Pretty Heart," and a gold-certified single, "To Be Loved by You."
McCollum continues to look forward with Never Enough. Among its 15 tracks, there is the first time he ever said "beer" in a song, as well as singles "Handle on You," "Stoned," "I Ain’t Going Nowhere," and "Speed." The singer is also extending his tour through the summer, with the participation of fellow country artists like Larry Fleet, Randy Rogers Band, and Flatland Cavalry on some dates.
LP Giobbi - Light Places
Release date: May 12
Boundary-bender musician, producer and entrepreneur LP Giobbi believes in "letting yourself get lost and finding out it’s exactly where you were supposed to be."
The statement, and title of her debut studio album Light Places, follows lyrics from the Grateful Dead’s "Scarlet Begonias": "Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places / if you look at it right." Giobbi, who is also a confessed Deadhead, said that the lyrics are one of her father’s favorites, "and almost a philosophy for the way he lives and taught my brother and me to live."
Produced almost entirely during flights while she toured the world with her "one-woman jam band" DJ sets, Light Places expands Giobbi’s classical jazz training into buoyant dance rhythms, and features collaborations with DJ Tennis, SOFI TUKKER, Caroline Byrne, and more. As a preview, she recently released singles "Can’t Let You Go (feat. Little Jet)" and "All I Need."
AQUIHAYAQUIHAY - NO ME BUSQUES DONDE MISMO
Release date: May 12
The forerunners of M-pop (Mexican pop) and a self-professed "anti-boyband," AQUIHAYAQUIHAY are known for blending traditional Latin genres with R&B and hip-hop. The 20-something quintet are set to release a new album, NO ME BUSQUES DONDE MISMO.
Formed in 2016, AQUIHAYAQUIHAY released their debut album, DROPOUT in 2019 and signed with DJ/producer Steve Aoki’s Latin underground label, Dim Mak en Fuego. The group dropped two EPs in 2021, titled :) and :(.
Summer Walker - Clear 2: Soft Life
Release date: May 19
"Y’all ready for some new music?" Summer Walker asked the crowd during her set at April’s Dreamville Festival. The question was preceded by the announcement of her upcoming EP, Clear 2: Soft Life.
Clear 2 is a sequel to Walker’s first EP, 2019’s Clear, which was released just nine months before her breakout debut studio album, Over It. Debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, the LP earned the biggest streaming week ever for an R&B album by a woman, and set the singer as a force to watch. Her 202 sophomore album, Still Over It, surpassed its predecessor and debuted at No. 1 on the same chart.
"This one — I want it to be a lot longer so I can really get that sound out," Walker recently told Billboard about her upcoming EP. "I make what I got to make for the radio, but I’m very excited for [Clear 2]. Hopefully, my budget will be permitted."
Lewis Capaldi - Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent
Release date: May 19
"If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it" seems to be a saying that Lewis Capaldi currently lives by. The Scottish sensation said in a press release that he doesn’t want to "create a new sound for myself, or reinvent myself," and therefore his much-awaited second studio album, Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent, will follow his usual emotionally-driven delivery.
The album was recorded with a minimal set-up, consisting of only a "small interface, laptop, speakers, and a Shure SM7B vocal mic," as well as the same team who worked on his first album, 2019’s best-seller Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent: TMS, Phil Plested, Nick Atkinson and Edd Holloway.
Preceded by singles "How I'm Feeling Now," "Forget Me," "Pointless," and "Wish You the Best" — of which the last three topped the UK Singles Chart — it looks like Capaldi’s right to bet on his tried and true formula, with enough skills to spark curiosity from the audience, over and over again.
Paul Simon - Seven Psalms
Release date: May 19
Seven Psalms is Paul Simon’s fifteenth album, and his first of new material since 2016’s Stranger to Stranger. According to the six-decade-spanning singer, the project came to him in a dream and was inspired by the Book of Psalms.
Including seven acoustic tracks that are meant to be listened to as one uninterrupted piece, the album also features British vocal group VOCES8 and a participation by Simon’s wife, singer/songwriter Edie Brickell.
Seven Psalms is said to be a departure from any of his previous work, which encompasses the illustrious Simon & Garfunkel albums Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sounds of Silence, and more. An accompanying documentary, In Restless Dreams, is also set for release.
Juanes - Vida Cotidiana
Release date: May 19
While Juanes found immense success in 2021 with his cover album Origen, winning Best Pop/Rock Album at the Latin Grammy Awards and Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album at the GRAMMY Awards, his latest original work dates back to 2019, with the LP Más futuro que pasado.
Considering the events the world went through, 2019 feels more like a century ago. Therefore, Vida Cotidiana (or "daily life," in Spanish) arrives as a testament to the Colombian star’s reflections and changes during this turbulent time.
The 11-track collection also marks Juanes’ return to rock and Latin American folk foundations, while examining "love, marriage, family, and his country," according to a press release. So far, he released three lovelorn advance singles off the album: "Amores Prohibidos," "Gris" and "Ojalá."
Tinariwen - Amatssou
Release date: May 19
Amatssou means "beyond the fear" in Tamashek, the native language of the Tuareg collective Tinariwen — which, in turn, means "deserts." Known for their sociopolitical resistance and commitment to portraying the struggles of Mali, Amatssou stands as a fitting title for the band's ninth studio album.
Recorded inside a makeshift studio tent in Algeria, the record was produced in L.A. by GRAMMY winner Daniel Lanois) and features country musicians Wes Corbett and Fats Kaplin, furthering the collective’s link to the musical style. In a press release, Tinariwen are said to "have always been a country band, albeit a North African take on that most North American of genres."
Tinariwen will embark on a U.S. and Europe tour starting on May 27 in Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. They will also perform at festivals including Glastonbury and Roskilde.
Arlo Parks - My Soft Machine
Release date: May 26
Contrasting with her delicate voice, British singer/songwriter Arlo Parks said in a statement that her sophomore album, My Soft Machine, is all about "the mid-20s anxiety, the substance abuse of friends around me, the viscera of being in love for the first time, navigating PTSD and grief and self-sabotage and joy." In summary, it’s a record about "what it’s like to be trapped in this particular body."
With an exceptional talent to transcribe raw emotions into contemplative, spacious music, Parks has given a taste of what to expect from this release through the singles "Blades," "Impurities," and "Weightless." She will also celebrate this moment by touring Europe and Asia in the following months, including performances at Spain and Portugal editions of Primavera Sound Festival
Lola Young - My Mind Wanders and Sometimes Leaves Completely
Release date: May 26
"And I like to think that I'm growing up and that I'm learnin'/But I've no idea what's underneath," reflects the south Londoner Lola Young on "Stream of Consciousness," the lead single for her upcoming album, My Mind Wanders and Sometimes Leaves Completely.
Following up on her 2021 EP After Midnight, the release is said to reflect Young’s "journey towards being a woman and figuring out who I am." Through her poignant lyrics, the 21-year-old gives a glimpse into the joys and pains of love in the 2020s. "I swear it don't hurt / You're looking at her / I'm looking at you," she muses in "Annabel’s House (From The Train)."
Nominated for the Rising Star Award at the 2022 BRIT Awards, she also revealed in an interview for NME that the album will be "slightly different" from her previous work, featuring more retro, alt-rock, and indie influences with a "raw edge."
The Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic (Expanded & Remastered)
Release date: May 26
The short-lived but still impactful Exploding Hearts will get a brand new chance of reaching more fans this spring. Their 2003 album of power-pop classics, Guitar Romantic, is being reissued to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Soon after the album release in 2003, three members of the band tragically passed away in a van accident while returning home from a gig in San Francisco. Surviving members King Louie Bankston (who passed away last year) and bassist Terry Six maintained their legacy through the duo Terry & Louie. Now, Six partnered with the band’s original producer, Pat Kearns, for the album reissue, and plans to play tribute shows in the upcoming months.
Guitar Romantic (Expanded & Remastered) will feature unreleased material, like conversations from the members, a King Louie Mix of "I’m A Pretender," and an unheard version of "So Bored."
Sparks - The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte
Release date: May 26
"So many people are crying in their latte" is the kind of musing about the contemporary world that only outlandish duo Sparks could have transformed into an engaging, nifty track. The lyrics come right off "The Girl is Crying In Her Latte," a preview single from their upcoming studio album of the same name.
Starring Cate Blanchett and her dandy dance moves in the music video, the track is proof that Sparks still have their finger on the pulse of culture, even after five decades of activity. "Veronica Lake," the second single off the project, keeps that same vein, bringing a modern spin to the narrative of actress Veronica Lake changing her hairstyle in order to protect factory workers during World War II.
The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte arrives after 2020’s A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip, and will be their first release under Island Records in 47 years. The pop rock pair is also scheduled to tour multiple cities in the U.S., Europe, and Japan in the summer.
Photo: Gary Miller/Getty Images
Inside Neil Young's 'Before And After': Where All 13 Songs Came From
The folk-rock titan's newest LP is a journey through the past — whether recent or decades in the rearview. But 'Before And After' is far more interesting than just an album of re-recordings.
More than his fragile tenor, knife-twisting pump organ, swarming Old Black guitar, or any other aural hallmark, Neil Young is defined by his dogged, locomotive-like (and somewhat wackadoo) resolve to surge forward. Come hell or high water, Young will continue the mission.
Which doesn't mean innovate, necessarily — even though innumerable contemporary indie and Americana artists owe their livelihoods to him. It's just that the fire he ignited in 1966, when he wrote his first song as a Buffalo Springfielder, remains furiously burning in 2023.
"I don't care. I figured that's why they like it, because I don't care. It's what I have to do. I want to do this," the two-time GRAMMY winner and 28-time nominee told a tickled Zane Lowe last year, while promoting his latest album with Crazy Horse, World Record. "That's why there's 51, 52 albums: because I want to do this, and I can still feel it. I'd be crazy to stop."
All of a year after World Record, Young is back with a new album, Before and After. (Would that be his 53rd? His recent cavalcade of archival releases renders the number hopelessly blurry.)
Before and After, out Dec. 8 is a collection of solo re-recordings of old songs; it shows that even with his foot on the accelerator, he tends to drift into a figure 8. Some tunes, like "Mr. Soul," are classics. Others, like the Trans outtake "If You Got Love," are exclusively recognizable to the real heads.
But despite his litany of stylistic detours, Young's essentially the same musician as when we met him; as such, this sequence is seamless. Which leads to another wrinkle; Young designed Before and After to be an unbroken suite of music.
"Songs from my life, recently recorded, create a music montage with no beginnings or endings," he wrote in a press release. "The feeling is captured, not in pieces, but as a whole piece — designed to be listened to that way. This music presentation defies shuffling, digital organization, separation. Only for listening. That says it all."
And another wrinkle: Although it's not billed as such, there are signs that the album was recorded live, with a few overdubs added in post — which he's done before, on albums like Rust Never Sleeps and Earth. Not only does the tracklist hew closely to the setlists from his West Coast solo tour last summer, but crowd noise is faintly audible in several spots, and the credits declare the recording location to simply be "USA."
As usual with this most mercurial of artists, Before and After seems simple, but there are layers of Youngian mystery. But where these songs initially hail from is no mystery at all. Here's a quick breakdown of exactly what we're hearing on Before and After.
"I'm the Ocean" (Mirror Ball, 1995)
A warts-and-all collaboration with Pearl Jam recorded in record time, Mirror Ball's actual songs have always had a hard time peeking through what Young described as "a big smoldering mass of sound." (Well, except the undeniable, immediate "Downtown" — perhaps the exception that proves the rule.)
But although its songs were written entirely in the span of the four-day recording session, the passage of time and a fair amount of dedicated listening — will bear out their merits. The Before and After version of "I'm the Ocean" is proof positive: What sounded a bit like an interminable garage-rock workout reveals itself to be a "Thrasher"-esque folk epic.
"I'm not present/ I'm a drug that makes you dream/ I'm an aerostar/ I'm a Cutlass Supreme," Young evocatively sings. "In the wrong lane/Trying to turn against the flow/ I'm the ocean/ I'm the giant undertow."
"Homefires" (Neil Young Archives Volume II: 1972-1976, 2020)
No doubt, it was a treat to hear Homegrown, one of Young's whitest whales. Recorded in 1974 and '75, it was shelved until Young finally released it in 2020 — the tip of the spear for a lot of unreleased material in its wake.
But for those steeped in Young lore, it seemed like there was a lot missing: where's "Give Me Strength"? Where's "Frozen Man"? Where's "Homefires"? Clearly, he didn't forget about the latter; there's a perfectly lovely version here.
But take it under advisement to seek out the original recording, which is deliciously vibey and aching as so much early Young music was.
"Burned" (Buffalo Springfield, 1966)
All these decades on, the bond between Young and his Buffalo Springfield/CSNY partner Stephen Stills is ironclad: if nothing's changed since early 2023, the musical brothers still get together to jam every Wednesday.
Young's devastated, precocious "Burned," from the eponymous first Springfield album, has lost none of its sting; it's downright thrilling to hear Young lay into it. Buffalo Springfield may have come out 57 years ago, but burned out on these tunes he is not.
"On the Way Home" (Last Time Around, 1968)
The studio recording of the yearning "On the Way Home" always felt a little incongruous with its sunshine-pop production; the solo, acoustic version on 2007's Live at Massey Hall 1971 always seemed like the take.
While that possibly remains true, this version acts as a worthy bookend, the after to the before: "Though we rush ahead to save our time/ We are only what we feel," Young sings, summing up his entire career.
"If You Got Love" (dropped from Trans, 1983)
Decades of snickers later, the electronic Trans has been redeemed in the critical aggregate.
It was never a thumbed-nose, label-baiting genre excursion like some of his other '80s albums. Rather, it was an honest response to parenthood of a nonverbal son. (And, it must be said, his burgeoning love of — bordering on a fixation on — Devo.)
While outtake "If You Got Love" lacks the aggressive vocoder of its Trans brethren, it remains shockingly commercial and soft-rock for this artist: Young himself called it "wimpy."
While your mileage may vary on the OG version, Young's Before and After take corrects that perception; performed alone on his trademark, rickety pump organ, reveals it to be blindingly pure and simple, a harbinger of Young's hymnlike, borderline childlike material in the new millennium.
"A Dream That Can Last" (Sleeps with Angels, 1994)
The largely muted Sleeps with Angels might be the most underrated album in Young's catalog. In terms of evocative songcraft, brooding atmosphere, and smoldering performances from Crazy Horse, it belongs near the top of the heap.
Two of its highlights are its bookends, both on sonorous tack piano: "My Heart" and "A Dream That Can Last." And this version sounds as emotionally naked as its predecessor, as Young revisits his vision of heaven: "The cupboards are bare, but the streets are paved with gold."
"Birds" (After the Gold Rush, 1970)
This slightly deeper cut from After the Gold Rush has followed Young around forever; perhaps the simplicity and companionability of this piano ballad has rendered it timeless.
And as always, it's moving to hear a 78-year-old Young still drawing power from something he sang as a twenty-something in coffeehouses.
Indeed, lines like "When you see me fly away without you" feel poignant in light of the numberless friends and loved ones — many indispensable to his creative arc — that Young has said goodbye to. When comparing original Horseman Danny Whitten to steel guitarist Ben Keith to his ex-wife, Pegi Young, "Birds" still feels elegiac to the maximum.
"My Heart" (Sleeps with Angels, 1994)
The aforementioned "My Heart" kicks off Sleeps with Angels with capacious canyons of silence and windswept lyrics: "When dreams come crashing down like trees/ I don't know what love can do/ When life is hanging in the breeze/ I don't know what love can do."
In reverse order, these two Sleeps with Angels tunes still carry potency and import — although nothing beats the dramatic arc of the original album, which all Young fans must seek out if they haven't.
"When I Hold You in My Arms" (Are You Passionate?, 2002)
Eyeballing the title, this writer figured "When I Hold You In My Arms" was a deep cut from Storytone, his 2014 paean to new love — and now wife and frequent collaborator — Darryl Hannah.
Rather, it's from 2002's Are You Passionate?, Young's curious team-up with Booker T. and the MGs. (Before tracking that one, a handful of its songs — some under different names — ended up on the long-shelved Toast, which Young finally released in 2022.)
But it could just as easily exist on that album-length tribute to new love: "When I hold you in my arms/ It's a breath of fresh air/ When I hold you in my arms/ I forget what's out there." And that's partly what renders this deeper-than-deep cut still resonant on Before and After.
"Mother Earth" (Ragged Glory, 1990)
Back in 1990, the chief ecological concern arguably wasn't global warming, but the hole in the ozone. Still, "Mother Earth" feels prescient — not only due to current climate woes, but as per Young's catalog itself, which has come to be saturated with climate-centric songs.
But Young's topical songs have always been most powerful when they sound deeply personal, too — and this fragile, organ-led version of "Mother Earth" sounds like a devotional by the Lorax.
"Mr. Soul" (Buffalo Springfield Again, 1967)
Like fellow Buffalo Springfield stone classic "Burned," "Mr. Soul" still feels bluesy and badass, best delivered with a heavy dose of spite. (Young's solo version on 1991's Unplugged, for which he was in the mother of bad moods, is stormy and unforgettable.
The kinder, gentler version on Before and After, though, is no less indispensable, for how ancient it sounds behind the organ — as if Young dredged it from the earth as a young man and it shines eternal.
"Comes a Time" (Comes a Time, 1978)
The ambling "Comes a Time" and its attendant, eponymous album have always been fan favorites: that rootsy 1978 album is where Young crossed a rubicon of earned maturity.
And despite Young's declaration that "I don't want to come back and do the same songs again" on said West Coast tour — if, in fact, this was drawn from that — "Comes a Time" feels like a requisite greatest hit. Which doesn't mean it's not good to hear it — quite the opposite.
"Don't Forget Love" (Barn, 2021)
Young bringing out an aged and grizzled Crazy Horse for three albums in a row — 2019's Colorado, 2021's Barn and 2022's World Record — might come across as a declaration to rawk.
But paradoxically — as Young has always been — these albums have featured some of the most restrained performances by the Horse since Sleeps with Angels.
Colorado concluded on a whisper-light note with "I Do," and Barn does the same, with the dreamlike "Don't Forget Love," performed here on upright piano.
These 13 songs may span seven decades, but Young is immutably Young — and if he gets to add more decades of work to his voluminous songbook, he will remain so. That's the thing about this prestige artist: most of us celebrate the Before, but the After is arguably even more interesting.
Source Photo: Nadav Kander; Graphic Courtesy of the Recording Academy
Sony Music Publishing Chairman & CEO Jon Platt To Receive GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons Honor At The Pre-GRAMMY Gala During GRAMMY Week 2024
Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs, the renowned Pre-GRAMMY gala, hosted by the Recording Academy and Clive Davis, returns Saturday, Feb. 3, where Sony Music Publishing Chairman and CEO Jon Platt will be honored as the 2024 GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honoree.
The Recording Academy’s GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honor celebrates the music industry's leading lights and biggest supporters. Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs, Sony Music Publishing Chairman and CEO Jon Platt will become the latest honoree.
The GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honor is awarded during the invitation-only Pre-GRAMMY Gala, an annual celebration hosted by the Recording Academy and music industry icon Clive Davis that takes place the night before the annual GRAMMY Awards. Held on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, and sponsored by Hilton, IBM and Mastercard, the Pre-GRAMMY Gala has become one of the music industry's most distinguished events for the innovative and influential creators and professionals it draws. Jon Platt is certainly among them.
"One of the most influential figures in the industry, Jon has consistently set the bar for leadership in music," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said in a statement. “His ongoing commitment to equity, his dedication to quality, and his advocacy for artists across all crafts and genres have been an inspiration to music leaders everywhere. We look forward to an incredible evening dedicated to honoring his incredible impact.”
“Jon Platt is one of the music industry’s most illustrious leaders and I am thrilled that he will be this year’s Salute to Industry Icons honoree,” Clive Davis said in a statement. “Jon’s longtime trailblazing commitment to supporting songwriters across the music spectrum as well as his staunch dedication to advocacy, diversity and equality in the music business are exemplary. Artists and the industry at large are fortunate to have his insight and passion at the helm.”
Since his appointment as Chairman and CEO of leading global music publisher Sony Music Publishing (“SMP”) in 2019, Platt has worked to revitalize the company’s Songwriters First mission. His efforts have focused on emphasizing service and transparency at every level, prioritizing equity, and reshaping the company’s administration services.
During Platt's tenure, Sony Music Publishing has strengthened both its legacy and its future, creating historic partnerships with songwriting legends like Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Ashley Gorley; signing the next generation of superstars like Olivia Rodrigo, Jack Harlow, Latto, Anitta, Central Cee, Kane Brown, and the Kid LAROI; and delivering opportunities for DIY creators through a landmark deal with BeatStars.
Throughout his career, Platt advocated for fair compensation for songwriters. Under his direction, Sony Music Publishing has focused on improving the lives of songwriters by putting more money in songwriters’ pockets, and getting that money in their pockets sooner. In an increasingly global music business, the company has also expanded its leading presence internationally into India, Indonesia and Nigeria.
Reflecting Platt’s commitment to artist development and his long-held belief that it’s better to grow hits than to chase them, SMP has built out its services for songwriters and composers at every stage of their careers. Songwriters Forward — a global initiative — has seen SMP providing mental health and wellness support to its roster through the Songwriter Assistance Program. SMP’s Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program has offered new financial opportunities to legacy songwriters. And SMP has provided over $1 million in grants to working songwriters in collaboration with organizations such as the 100 Percenters, Songwriters of North America (SONA) and Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).
Jon Platt’s career in the music business began in the mid-‘80s, when, as a DJ in his hometown of Denver, he was credited with breaking records from Public Enemy and Arrested Development in the Midwest. He brought the same passion for spotting hits-in-the-making to his career in music publishing, signing and collaborating with some of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B, including Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Drake, Rihanna, Pharrell Williams and Usher. Platt is widely credited for elevating how hip-hop and R&B artists are respected and compensated as songwriters.
Platt has consistently shared his belief in building a music business every bit as diverse as the music it represents. He has increased diversity across senior leadership teams throughout his career, and supported the development of a pipeline of female executives with SMP’s global Women’s Leadership Program. His commitment to equity and inclusion extends to empowering the next generation of songwriters and composers with initiatives like SMP’s Screen Scoring Diversity Scholarship at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
Platt previously served as chairman & CEO of Warner Chappell and led the company’s turnaround. He also spent 17 years at EMI Music Publishing, where he cemented his reputation for recognizing icons-in-the-making by signing Jay-Z on the release of his 1996 independent debut album, Reasonable Doubt.
Platt sits on the boards of Berklee College of Music, Songwriters Hall of Fame, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Motown Museum, Living Legends Foundation, and the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), and his numerous recognitions include City of Hope’s prestigious Spirit of Life Award, SONA’s Warrior Award, NSAI’s President’s Keystone Award, SESAC’s Visionary Award, Billboard’s Power 100, Variety’s Variety500, and Morehouse College’s Candle Award. In 2005, he launched The Big Jon Platt Scholarship Program for college-bound students from his Denver community in Montbello.
Graphic courtesy of the Recording Academy
How To Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop": Air Date, Performers Lineup, Streaming Channel & More
Featuring exclusive performances and special tributes, "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" premieres Sunday, Dec. 10. Here's when, where and how to watch the star-studded live concert special.
The 50th anniversary of hip-hop may have happened this past summer, but the Recording Academy's ongoing celebration was just beginning. And it's about to reach its culmination with "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop," a majestic, once-in-a-lifetime live concert special featuring rap's best and brightest — past and present.
Here's everything you need to know about where, when, how, and why to watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop."
What Is "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" Celebrating?
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" is celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, which took place in August.
Scholars may debate whether the genre's roots precede Aug. 11, 1973, when DJ Kool Herc debuted his "merry-go-round" technique of playing funk breaks back-to-back to a smattering of teenagers in the Bronx. But it's beyond doubt that this event was the spark to a flame that lit throughout the boroughs — inspiring DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists, and, eventually, pioneering MCs like Coke La Rock and Cowboy.
In the ensuing decades, hip-hop has set the world on fire, swelling to become one of the foremost cultural phenomena on the planet. And "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" promises to pay homage to the breadth, depth and ongoing ripple effect of the genre and culture.
When Can I Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will air Sunday, Dec. 10, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.
How Can I Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of HipHop"?
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will air at the above time, at the above date, on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
Who Is Performing At "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
The two-hour live concert special will feature exclusive performances from hip-hop legends and GRAMMY-winning artists including Black Thought, Bun B, Common, De La Soul, Jermaine Dupri, J.J. Fad, Talib Kweli, the Lady Of Rage, LL Cool J, MC Sha-Rock, Monie Love, the Pharcyde, Queen Latifah, Questlove, Rakim, Remy Ma, Uncle Luke, and Yo-Yo.
Rap icons and next-gen hip-hop superstars like 2 Chainz, T.I., Gunna, Too $hort, Latto, E-40, Big Daddy Kane, GloRilla, Juvenile, Three 6 Mafia, Cypress Hill, Jeezy, DJ Quik, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shanté, Warren G, YG, Digable Planets, Arrested Development, Spinderella, Black Sheep, Luniz, and many more will also perform. Plus, hip-hop icons DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince will deliver a highly anticipated reunion on the stage.
Who Is Appearing At "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
Two-time GRAMMY winner and nine-time GRAMMY nominee LL Cool J will guide fans through the "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" experience throughout the night. You can also expect presentations and appearances from Chloe Bailey, hip-hop-meets Broadway mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda, Seth Rogen, Jennifer Hudson, Regina Hall, Machine Gun Kelly, and more.
What Can I Expect At "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
Spanning the past five decades of hip-hop history, "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" is the epitomic embodiment of the profound history of hip-hop. More than just a live concert special, the show will celebrate the infinite ways hip-hop has impacted and changed the world. Plus, with such a heavy-hitter performer lineup, hip-hop fans should expect plenty of surprises and deep dives into the rich evolution of rap music and culture.
The night will feature groundbreaking artists performing the songs that changed hip-hop forever. Expect to experience exclusive performances of such classics from all the influential eras of hip-hop, including T.I.'s "What You Know," 2Pac's "California Love," Three 6 Mafia's "Stay Fly," Cypress Hill's "How I Could Just Kill A Man," and many more.
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will also showcase some of the regional sounds and scenes that shaped the rap canon across the decades, including special segments celebrating Southern hip-hop featuring Jeezy, T.I., Bun B, Three 6 Mafia, Jermaine Dupri, and more; West Coast rap featuring Warren G, Tyga, Roddy Ricch, DJ Quik, Too $hort, E-40, and others; and the international rap scene featuring Akon, Blaqbonez and more.
Of course, hip-hop would not be where it is today without the influential women and female trailblazers who pioneered the genre and industry. For the past five decades, women have been essential to hip-hop, and "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will pay tribute to the ladies who built — and continue to build — rap music and culture. The ladies of hip-hop will take centerstage with a special performance featuring an all-women cast of hip-hop greats performing empowering female anthems, including Queen Latifah & Monie Love performing "Ladies First," Roxanne Shanté delivering "Roxanne's Revenge," Latto holding it down for the next generation with "Put It On Da Floor," and more.
As one of the highlights of the night, hip-hop pioneers DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince will reunite for a highly anticipated performance featuring their greatest hits, which have since become some of the most celebrated songs in hip-hop history, including, "Brand New Funk," "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," "Summertime," and more.
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will pay tribute to this quintessentially American art form like no other. Keep checking GRAMMY.com for more news and updates about "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" and the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, and make sure to tune in on Sunday, Dec. 10, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.
A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop is produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment. Jesse Collins, Shawn Gee, Dionne Harmon, Claudine Joseph, LL COOL J, Fatima Robinson, Jeannae Rouzan-Clay, and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson for Two One Five Entertainment serve as executive producers and Marcelo Gama as director of the special.
— With additional reporting from John Ochoa