searchsearch
Why This Viral Beach Boys Cover, Meant To Heal A Grieving World, Almost Didn’t Happen

news

Why This Viral Beach Boys Cover, Meant To Heal A Grieving World, Almost Didn’t Happen

Last summer, almost 30 musicians banded together from home to record a cover of the Beach Boys' 1967 classic, "Good Vibrations." After widespread COVID-related deaths and global protests hit, the group wondered if it would ever see the light of day

GRAMMYs/Feb 5, 2021 - 08:33 pm

The saxophonist, flutist, and keyboardist Sarah Johnson Melkeraaen's father was her number-one fan. A lover of soul artists like George Clinton, Lou Rawls and The Temptations, Julius Johnson danced at any opportunity—at the supermarket, after bowling a strike, or in response to good news of any type. Sometimes, his dancing made his daughter feel shy, but today, she misses it more than anything. Granted, Johnson wasn't particularly a Beach Boys fan. But when Melkeraaen—who records and performs as Lady Albatross—took part in a massive cover of America’s Band, it ended up a testament to his goofy, music-loving spirit.

In a YouTube cover of the exuberant "Good Vibrations recorded last June, created to give a world in lockdown a much-needed lift, she played flute alongside almost 30 other musicians in virtual collaboration. Released this year after a months-long delay, the cover grew so popular that it caught the attention of Brian Wilson himself.

But because Johnson died of COVID-19 the month of its making, he's not around to cut a rug in response.



"In my mind, I'm picturing being able to tell him, and he definitely would have had an ear-to-ear, massive grin," Lady Albatross, who came onto the project by word-of-mouth, tells GRAMMY.com from her home in Odda, Norway. “He would have given me a really big hug and told me how proud he was."

Making The Cover

"Good Vibrations," which a 24-year-old Wilson concocted as the centerpiece to 1967's aborted Beach Boys album Smile, is only the latest tune that organizers Doc Crotzer and Matthew Smith have tackled. In the confusing, suffocating early weeks of lockdown, they cast out a net to record a quarantine-friendly cover of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'." "We thought maybe a few other people might be interested in doing it with us but didn't expect too many people," Smith tells GRAMMY.com. 

Through a network of friends recommending friends, like in Lady Albatross's and Jones' case, they followed up the Petty tune with a pitch-perfect rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run."

"By then," Crotzer says, "more people had seen the video and reached out to us, so we were able to grow our Social Distance Session Band, which added to the fun and challenge. 'Good Vibrations' came out of trying to answer 'How do we top "Born to Run'" with our group?'"

To help manifest their sun-kissed dream, Crotzer and Smith contacted Anders Fehon and Edwin Herder of Beach Boys musical replicators The Fendertones. Then, they recorded a scratch track for the instrumentalists, and Crotzer sang rough takes of each vocal part to place the singers properly in the harmony stack.

Sarah Johnson Melkeraaen and her father, Julius Johnson.

Two of those singers were MInhee Jones, a London-based alternative pop artist, and her friend, Celeigh Chapman, a country singer originally from Bakersfield, California. The recording process helped Chapman exhume the song from TV ads and oldies stations and examine it anew.

"For us, it was cool to pull apart the layers because [most of us] appreciate it in a passing way or understand that it's revolutionary for the time," she tells GRAMMY.com. "But then, to pull it apart and learn a specific part and see all those parts stack up, I think, gave us a whole other level of appreciation for them doing that at that time, considering where the technology is now and where it was then. When you look underneath the hood, there's a whole other level of, "Oh, this is actually why this is so omnipresent in our culture and has been able to sustain generations of fans and musicians."

Stitching together nearly 30 socially-distanced takes wasn't easy, but Crotzer and Smith found ways to circumvent potential hiccups. "For the instrumental part of the track, we let people do their own thing a bit more," Smith says, "but everyone was still playing to a guide track so that everything would stay in sync when we got the tracks back."

Near the end, the number of tracks so overwhelmed his laptop that he had to buy a better computer. "Fortunately, we had an awesome editor named Chase Johnson cutting it," Crotzer says. "He made it look easy and seamless."

Hitting A Roadblock 

The month they recorded the cover, the George Floyd protests hit. "Good Vibrations" wouldn't come out in June as planned. 

While the musicians never explicitly mentioned current events over the email chain, Chapman says there was an unspoken agreement that the timing wasn't right. In the midst of global racial upheaval, releasing a happy-go-lucky cover may have come across as blithe or tone-deaf. The following months brought mostly silence. "I remember sending an email asking, 'When is this coming out?''" Lady Albatross remembers. 

In the months leading to his death, Lady Albatross's father became inward and uncommunicative; she's not certain he even knew about the "Good Vibrations" cover. Lady Albatross was already saddened her father would never hear it, but after a while, it seemed like nobody would. As the months stretched out between George Floyd's killing and the fractious 2020 election, the "blossom world" Wilson sang of seemed more out-of-reach than ever.

Jones felt wary of a world seemingly drained of the Beach Boys' promise. "I was pretty down around that time because it was so polarized," she tells GRAMMY.com. "You saw some disappointing ideals coming out of people. Just a lot of ignorance, I guess. It didn't seem like the right time to put out anything too light." 

Going Viral

On the heels of the inauguration and with vaccinations starting to roll out, it finally felt right to drop "Good Vibrations" on YouTube in the spirit of healing and brighter days ahead.

"I remember when I got the email from Doc and Matt saying, 'It's up! It's finally here! It's done!'" Jones says with a grin over Zoom. "It was right after the inauguration. I think they posted it on Facebook just like that: 'This could not have come at a better time. So many good vibrations. A weight has been lifted.' I thought the inauguration was amazing. We were all watching it around the world. I was over here with my glass of champagne in London. I thought the timing of that was spot-on." 

Almost immediately, the video was met with global excitations—and Brian Wilson's. "Watch this amazing video from Social Distance Settings of 'Good Vibrations' featuring Minhee Jones and Jesse Hernandez, and musicians around the world," he tweeted. "Their goal for this performance is to make everyone SMiLE." At press time, the video was on the cusp of 50,000 views.

Overall, the response has bowled over Crotzer and Smith, who had merely organized the video for the fun, fun, fun of it.

"I couldn't believe it when Brian Wilson shared our cover on his social media," Crotzer tells GRAMMY.com. "The first rock 'n' roll music I heard as a kid was written by him and got me into music in the first place. Waking up to see that Brian liked it was an incredible way to start a day. Just absolutely surreal.”

A No. 1 hit in its day, "Good Vibrations" was sparked by Wilson's curiosity about the human emotions that dogs pick up on. Had the crew had released their cover back in June, it might have clashed with the will of the universe. But because they released it in a long-awaited moment of political optimism, "Good Vibrations" acted as a beacon of light through the gloom—and elicited a hard-won smile from thousands of viewers. 

And Lady Albatross, who sticks out in the virtual crowd in her hand-crocheted octopus hat, says her old man would be right there with them.

"He would have given me a really big hug and a kiss on the forehead," she says, envisioning his response to the Brian Wilson-approved video. And, of course, "He would have done a little happy dance."

Dave Mason On Recording With Rock Royalty & Why He Reimagined His Debut Solo Album, 'Alone Together

Masterful Remixer Giles Martin On The Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds,' The Beatles, Paul McCartney
Giles Martin

Photo: Alex Lake | C A Management

news

Masterful Remixer Giles Martin On The Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds,' The Beatles, Paul McCartney

Ahead of his spectacular, Dolby Atmos-elevated remix of the Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds,' Giles Martin discusses the pressures and jubilation of handling such a precious album.

GRAMMYs/Jun 2, 2023 - 02:06 pm

Bicycle bells, Coca-Cola cans, sleigh bells, water bottles, French horn, Electro-Theremin — and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Compared to even ambitious Beatles masterpieces like Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's, remixing the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds is an entirely different beast. While the Fabs' recordings were often deceptively sparse — "Taxman" is guitars, bass, drums and vocals — Pet Sounds is an ocean of eccentric, melancholic, joyful sound.

Astonishingly — by today's standards — the album was initially recorded to a four-track machine. A student of the studio might assume that remixing the such a record would require  some form of sacrifice during the remixing process, wherein various elements would have to be buried, or excised, to bring another to the light.

Giles Martin, who has remixed Sgt. Pepper's, The White Album, Abbey Road, Let It Be, and Revolver — and now Pet Sounds, for Dolby Atmos — has an incisive answer.

"Will I sacrifice taste or feel for the sake of it being an Atmos mix? If that starts getting compromised, then let's make it mono," two-time GRAMMY winner Martin tells GRAMMY.com. "It doesn't make any sense to affect the integrity of a song for the use of technology. Technology should be there to serve the music, as opposed to the other way around.

"I don't want people to listen to an Atmos mix I've done; I want people to listen to a song," he continues. "My mix is just a small part in the process."

But sitting in complete darkness in a Dolby screening room on Sixth Avenue in New York City, it was difficult to think of Martin's touch as being a "small part."

This version of Pet Sounds was nothing short of revelatory — shining up each Beach Boy's vocals, unburying numberless exotic instruments, mapping the musical elements in physical space. All without compromising Brian Wilson's timbral and harmonic syntheses that characterize this art-rock cornerstone.

Read on for a candid interview with Martin about his remixing philosophy, moving from the Beatles space to the Beach Boys space and what he wants to improve about his methodology — in short, "everything."

The Atmos mix of Pet Sounds is available now on Amazon Music, Tidal and Apple Music; stream it here.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

During Beatles listening events, there's a little bit of tension between yourself and that fan community. This Beach Boys event seemed to possess a completely different energy — less antagonistic, more of a lovefest. What's it been like moving from the Beatles world to the Beach Boys world as per their fan communities?

I don't know — I think that I may not be perceiving it right [laughs].

I never felt that there was a huge amount of antagonism with the Beatles thing. I think to begin with, there was. With the early days of me, certainly, doing Love, ironically, there was a suspicion of what I was up to — what are my motives, and what gives you the right to screw around with these tracks, and who the hell do you think you are, and that sort of thing.

I think there's been a sort of shift in a level of trust, hopefully, that people don't realize that I deliberately do this to try and screw things up.

I was actually more nervous going to a Beach Boys playback than I was going to a Beatles playback. With the Beatles, I kind of know where I am — and regardless of what anyone may think, I probably have more experience on this than most other people do.

The Beach Boys, I don't. It's my first rodeo, if you like, so I was probably a bit more nervous addressing their audience.

"Antagonism" is probably too strong a word. Just a little bit of tension in the air, when somebody's like, "What happened to that guitar squeak at 2:01 on 'Taxman,' Giles? Would you like to explain yourself?"

That always makes me laugh. There are two guys who are those people, and they come and listen in the studios. They came around recently for something, and they were like, "Well, we heard something at this moment."

I'll always listen and respect what they say, but then I'll just go… I do have Paul and Ringo. So they'll just go, "Well, we think it's fine."

I think what you are alluding to is there's a sense of ownership that people have over Beatles music. But I think that's the case with Pet Sounds and the Beach Boys as well.

From a business standpoint, what's it been like docking your spaceship on a new mothership?

I pay no attention to the business side of stuff. It's the same record label, actually — Capitol. I have a really good relationship with them, and they're great.

They know what they're getting themselves into by asking me to do stuff, which means that generally, things will be late; I'll miss deadlines. But they also know that I'll take care. And I think part of my job is, obviously, listening to what people have to say, and listening to and collaborating with other people on this, and doing it.

What role did the Beach Boys and Pet Sounds play in your life up to this point? Obviously, you're steeped in this overall miasma due to your lineage.

It's funny: as I said to my dad <a href="https://www.grammy.com/artists/george-martin/4663">legendary Beatles producer [George Martin], "It's amazing the work you did." And he was like, "Yeah, but I mean, compared to what Brian Wilson did when he was just on his own — you need to go listen to that." And so I did, and I suppose that there's an otherworldliness to it.

Just as a producer, or someone who loves music, Pet Sounds could not be ignored, because it's so intricate in the way it is, and it's an album that gets better the more you listen to it as well. And I hope that is sustainable in times of TikTok where people only have a short amount of time to pay anything attention.

I suppose that I wouldn't have agreed to do it if it wasn't important to me.You have to give it your all; you have to spend a lot of time listening to this music. It's such an important and influential record — not just for other people, but for me as well.

You mentioned during the listening party that you didn't have to employ the same AI techniques to unglue the tracks as you did on Revolver. Can you elaborate?

I wouldn't say it was unglued. If you imagine on, for instance, "That's Not Me," essentially, the band are kind of on three tracks a lot. So, they're stuck.

And "That's Not Me" has drums, organ, tambourine on one track. So, I can't move the organ or tambourine away from the drums. They have to be on one side. And I have bass and lead guitar on another track, so bass and guitar are going to be in the same place no matter what I do.

But there's an intent with this, where it's unlike having a band like the Beatles. This isn't really a band record; it's more of an orchestral record. It has a backing to it.

There's not really a drum kit on Pet Sounds, per se. There's drums on one or two tracks, but there's not really a drum kit. It's like orchestral percussion. So it's fine having those things glued together. Whereas on something like "Taxman," we have guitar, bass and drums — and only guitar, bass and drums going on for the whole song.

If you want to have a stereo record, you have to separate them — because otherwise, they're just on one side and the vocals on the other side; there's no reality. But with this, you have chunks of musicians in a room, and then you can create this real world around it.

Brian Wilson rightfully soaks up the lion's share of the discourse around Pet Sounds; he crafted the record. But in this process, what did you learn about them as per their group dynamic? You alluded to their vocal precision during the listening event. I love Carl and Bruce's vocals on "God Only Knows." I know that Carl and Dennis played on the record in a limited capacity.

I don't know what I learned that I didn't already know, apart from the fact that — this is what people miss — bands exist with resentment, and everything else. But bands exist because they're human beings in a room. The fact that you don't hear someone doesn't mean that they're not having influence.

With the Beach Boys, obviously, you hear their incredible harmonies. And Brian couldn't have done what he did without having the palette of outstanding musicianship, and the ability for these guys to harmonize and create these vocals that can't exist anywhere else.

So, that's what I suppose you hear. You hear the other members of the band come in on tracks, as you alluded to, and you suddenly think — not that it's a relief, but it's like, Oh my god, this is a band. This isn't just Brian. That's what I took from it.

I could genuinely sit there and think about the Beach Boys on a conceptual level and be entertained for hours. But is there a danger of overthinking an artifact like Pet Sounds? Or is it a fount for infinite analysis and edification?

No, I think you are absolutely right. You can take the fun out of it — and people do frequently — by being too pretentious about things. I find this quite amusing. It's almost like the song becomes the ownership of the journalist — or the expert, if you like — and not the person listening to it.

People are told what to listen to, and what to listen out for, in a sort of educational way: "You don't really understand this." It's that sort of thing: "If only you knew you knew how good this was, you'd be able to like it." That sort of conversation. "Music isn't like how it used to be, because it's not as good as this," and all this sort of conversation.

It's absolutely rubbish. It's like, let people enjoy what they want to enjoy. As long as you're passionate about something, it doesn't make a difference whether you like Megadeth or the Beach Boys.

You recently worked on a refreshed version of Paul McCartney's "Live or Let Die." That song is such a mind movie — and not just because it has James Bond roots. I'm sure you had fun with that one.

It was great. It's a bit like a lot of the projects I do; the expectancy is so vast spread.

It's quite tricky; how do you meet the expectation? Because one thing that mono or stereo or compression gives you, is it gives you loudness. You separate stuff in an immersive soundfield, you have to be careful that you don't start losing impact.

One thing that "Live and Let Die" has is impact. And that's the tricky thing about that song. But I'm really happy. It was actually a big mix to do; I can't lie. It was like, "Oh my god, here we go; I have to be fully qualified to do this mix."

But I'm really happy with it. I can't wait for people to hear it. I think it's super cool.

How do you want to get better at what you do? Where do you want to improve?

Oh, god. "Everywhere" is the answer. I think you are never done. It's only sometimes I hear things back and go, Oh, that actually sounds quite good. Oh, I did that. That's alright. Otherwise, you sort of hate everything.

I nervously watched you [all] through a screen in New York going, Oh my god, it sounds terrible. That's what goes through my head.

You still struggle with that, huh?

Yeah, of course. And then the thing is, I don't think, What if it sounds terrible? because of ego. It's, What if it sounds terrible because you guys really like this record and I need to do it justice? That's what goes through my head.

The Beach Boys' Sail On Sailor Reframes Two Obscure 1970s Albums. Why Were They Obscure In The First Place?

10 Artists Who Are Outspoken About Mental Health: Billie Eilish, Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes & More
Selena Gomez participates in MTV Entertainment's first ever Mental Health Youth Forum at The White House in 2022.

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MTV Entertainment 

list

10 Artists Who Are Outspoken About Mental Health: Billie Eilish, Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes & More

From Ed Sheeran to Janet Jackson, take a look at some of the major music stars who have shared their struggles with mental health — and helped fans feel supported and seen in the process.

GRAMMYs/May 9, 2023 - 06:28 pm

Sharing mental health issues with close family or specialized medical professionals can be challenging enough. Add in the pressures of fame and being in the public eye, and any struggles are exponentially more difficult to cope with.

In recent years, though, mental health has become a much more widely discussed topic in celebrity culture. Several artists have used their music and their platform to open up about their own struggles with depression, anxiety and the like, from Bruce Springsteen to Selena Gomez.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, GRAMMY.com highlights the inspirational impact of music superstars who speak out about what they're going through, and how they manage their challenges. These 10 performers are making change through their courage and candor.

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran takes fans behind the curtain of his personal life and struggles with mental health in Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All. The four-episode docuseries, which is now streaming on Disney+, details the pain of losing his best friend Jamal Edwards and his wife Cherry Seaborn receiving a cancer diagnosis while she was pregnant with their daughter Jupiter.

"What I think is really great about the documentary is the themes that it explores, everyone goes through," Sheeran said at the New York City premiere on May 2, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "Everyone goes through grief. Everyone goes through ups and downs of their mental health."

Sheeran dives deeper into his struggles — and is more vulnerable than ever before — on his latest album Subtract, which arrived on May 5. "Running from the light/ Engulfed in darkness/ Sharing my eyes/ Wondering why I'm stuck on the borderline," he sings on album cut "Borderline," which touches on battling suicide thoughts.

Lewis Capaldi

Like Sheeran, Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi also gave fans an incredibly upfront look at his mental health challenges in a documentary, How I'm Feeling Now. The new Netflix release details his experience with anxiety and Tourette's syndrome, taking viewers to physical therapy with Capaldi and discussing how his medication both helps and hurts the quality of his life.

Capaldi's second album, Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent (due May 19) will further explore his anxieties and vulnerability. While he has admitted it wasn't easy to be so raw in his music and on screen, Capaldi wants to make a difference in other people's lives. "If people notice things that are concurrent with what's going on in their life, then it's all been worth it," he told Variety.

Billie Eilish

While Billie Eilish's music has been raw and real from the start, her music has become increasingly more vulnerable throughout the years. Whether in her music or in interviews, the star has opened up about dealing with body dysmorphia, depression and thoughts of self-harm — hoping to inspire fans to speak up when they are hurting, and to know that it gets better.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help," she asserts in a 2019 video for Ad Council's Seize The Awkward campaign, which features stars discussing mental health.

"Kids use my songs as a hug," she told Rolling Stone earlier that year. "Songs about being depressed or suicidal or completely just against-yourself — some adults think that's bad, but I feel that seeing that someone else feels just as horrible as you do is a comfort. It's a good feeling."

Selena Gomez

As one of the most-followed stars on social media, Selena Gomez has often used her formidable presence to discuss her mental health and connect with others. In 2022, the singer launched a startup called Wondermind, which is focused on "mental fitness" and helping users maintain strong mental health.

Just a few months later, Gomez further chronicled her own mental health journey in an Apple TV+ documentary, Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, which shows extremes she's suffered with her depression and bipolar disorder. She has said she was initially hesitant to share the film, but ultimately reflected on how many others could be helped if she did.

"Because I have the platform I have, it's kind of like I'm sacrificing myself a little bit for a greater purpose," she explained in a 2022 cover story with Rolling Stone. "I don't want that to sound dramatic, but I almost wasn't going to put this out. God's honest truth, a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure I could do it."

Shawn Mendes

In 2019, Shawn Mendes first publicly addressed his struggles with anxiety in the dynamic — and GRAMMY-nominated — hit "In My Blood." Three years later, the singer postponed his 2022 tour in order to focus on his mental health, opening up an important conversation to his legion of fans.

"The process was very difficult," he said in a February interview with Wall Street Journal. "A lot of doing therapy, a lot of trying to understand how I was feeling and what was making me feel that way. And then doing the work to help myself and heal. And also leaning on people in my life to help a little bit. 

"It's been a lot of work, but I think the last year and a half has been the most eye-opening and growing and beautiful and just healing process of my life," he continued. "And it just really made me see how culture is really starting to get to a place where mental health is really becoming a priority."

Bruce Springsteen

Even an artist as successful and celebrated as Bruce Springsteen has faced depression. In his 2016 autobiography Born to Run, the 20-time GRAMMY winner cites a difficult relationship with his father and a history of mental illness in the family, sharing that he has sought treatment throughout his life.

"I was crushed between 60 and 62, good for a year, and out again from 63 to 64," he wrote in the book. In that time, he released his 2012 album, Wrecking Ball, which featured a raw track called "This Depression." "Baby, I've been down, but never this down I've been lost, but never this lost," he sings on the opening verse.

As his wife, Patti Scialfa, told Vanity Fair in 2016, "He approached the book the way he would approach writing a song…A lot of his work comes from him trying to overcome that part of himself."

Janet Jackson

The physical and emotional abuse suffered by the famous Jackson family is well-documented in books, documentaries and TV dramatizations. But it's only been in recent years that Janet Jackson has talked about her own depression, which she has referred to as "intense." Her son Aissa has helped her heal from mental health challenges that have followed her all of her life.

"In my 40s, like millions of women in the world, I still heard voices inside my head berating me, voices questioning my value," she wrote in a 2020 ESSENCE cover story. "Happiness was elusive. A reunion with old friends might make me happy. A call from a colleague might make me happy. But because sometimes I saw my failed relationships as my fault, I easily fell into despair."

Elle King

After seeing global success with her debut single, "Ex's & Oh's," Elle King experienced the woes of sudden fame as well as a crumbling marriage. Her second album, 2018's Shake the Spirit, documented her struggles with self-doubt, medicinal drinking and PTSD.

"There's two ways out," she told PEOPLE in 2018, describing her marriage as "destructive," physically abusive and leading her to addiction. "You can take the bad way out or you can get help. I got help because I knew that I have felt good in my life and I knew I could get there again."

Brendon Urie

Certain public situations can trigger crippling anxiety attacks for Brendon Urie, who has been open about mental health concerns throughout his career. He can perform in front of thousands of fans, but he's revealed that being in the grocery store or stuck in an elevator for too long with other people are among some of his most uncomfortable scenarios in his life.

"You would never tell on the surface, but inside it's so painful I can't even describe," the former Panic! At The Disco frontman — who disbanded the group earlier this year to focus on his family — said in a 2016 interview with Kerrang.

Big Sean

Rapper Big Sean and his mother released a series of educational videos during Mental Health Awareness Month in 2021 — two years after the Detroit-born star started talking about his own long-held depression and anxiety publicly.

"I was just keeping it real because I was tired of not keeping it real," he said in an interview with ESSENCE in 2021. "I was tired of pretending I was a machine and everything was cool and being politically correct or whatever. I just was like, I'm a just say how I feel."

Like many of his peers, he hopes that his honesty will help others. "Whatever they can apply to their life and better themselves and maybe it just even starts a whole journey in a different direction as far as upgrading and taking care of themselves and bossing up themselves," he added. "Whatever they're trying to do, I hope it helps them get to that place."

How Durand Jones' Debut Album 'Wait Til I Get Over' Helped Him Explore His Roots & Find Self-Acceptance

GRAMMY Rewind: Bruce Springsteen Finally Gets To Celebrate Winning Best Male Rock Vocal Performance In 1995
Bruce Springsteen at the 1995 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage

video

GRAMMY Rewind: Bruce Springsteen Finally Gets To Celebrate Winning Best Male Rock Vocal Performance In 1995

Ten years after Bruce Springsteen first won a GRAMMY for Best Male Rock Performance, The Boss did it again in 1995 with "Streets of Philadelphia" — but this time, he was actually able to accept his golden gramophone on stage.

GRAMMYs/Apr 28, 2023 - 05:00 pm

Over the span of fifteen years, Bruce Springsteen received four nominations and two wins for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. He missed the ceremony for his first win in 1985 for "Dancing in the Dark," but he made up for it in 1995, thanks to "Streets of Philadelphia."

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit Springsteen's second win for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, 10 years after his first victory.

"Not sure this is a rock vocal, but you stick around long enough, and they give these things to you, I guess," Springsteen quipped.

"Gee, I actually won this a few years ago. They gave it out in the afternoon, and I missed it," Springsteen continued with a smile. "They sent it to my mom, and she presented it to me over the kitchen table."

That wasn't the only trophy Springsteen accepted that night, either: "Streets of Philadelphia" nearly made a clean sweep at the 1995 GRAMMYs, winning four of the five categories it was nominated in. The song also won golden gramophones for Best Rock Song, Best Song Written For Visual Media and the coveted Song Of The Year.

Press play on the video above to watch Bruce Springsteen's complete acceptance speech for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance at the 37th GRAMMY Awards, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

Bruce Springsteen Essentials: 15 Tracks That Show Why The Boss Is A Poetic Rock Icon

5 Things We Learned From GRAMMY Museum's New The Power Of Song Exhibit, A Celebration Of Songwriters From Tom Petty To Taylor Swift
A selection of items on display at Power of Song Exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum.

Photo: Rebecca Sapp

list

5 Things We Learned From GRAMMY Museum's New The Power Of Song Exhibit, A Celebration Of Songwriters From Tom Petty To Taylor Swift

Nile Rodgers, Jimmy Jam, Smokey Robinson and more provide deep insights into their hit collaborations and creative process at GRAMMY Museum's The Power of Song: A Songwriters Hall of Fame Exhibit, open from April 26 through Sept. 4.

GRAMMYs/Apr 26, 2023 - 08:23 pm

Since its founding in 1969, the Songwriters Hall of Fame has been celebrating the great songwriters and composers of our time. In 2010, it found a physical home at Downtown Los Angeles' GRAMMY Museum.

Now, the GRAMMY Museum is adding to that legacy with a special expanded exhibit, which dives deep into the history of songwriting and recorded music in the United States — as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame and its inductees' role in it. Whether you're a songwriter or musician who loves the creative process, a history nerd, or simply a music lover, this exhibit is for you.

When you enter The Power Of Song, you'll hear the voices of legendary Songwriter Hall of Fame inductees and GRAMMY winners — including Nile Rodgers, Carole King, Diane Warren, Smokey Robinson and Jimmy Jam — discussing their creative process and some of the biggest songs they've written. Take a seat on the couch to absorb all their wisdom in the deeply informative and inspiring original short film.

Turn to the right, and you'll find a timeline across the entire wall, explaining the origins and key points around songwriting and recorded music in the U.S. On the other wall, pop on the headphones provided to enjoy a video of memorable Hall of Fame ceremony performances. One interactive video interface near the entrance allows you to hear "song highlights," and another allows you to explore the entire Songwriters Hall of Fame database.

The exhibit is filled with a treasure trove of handwritten song lyrics from Taylor Swift, Cyndi Lauper, Tom Petty and many more, as well as iconic artifacts, including Daft Punk's helmets, a classy Nile Rodgers GRAMMY look, and guitars from Bill Withers, Tom Petty, John Mellencamp and Toby Keith.

Below, take a look at five things we learned from The Power Of Song: A Songwriters Hall Of Fame Exhibit, which will be at the GRAMMY Museum from April 26 through Sept. 4.

Daft Punk Rerecorded "Get Lucky" To Fit Nile Rodgers' Funky Guitar

Legendary funk pioneer and superproducer Nile Rodgers is the current Chairman of the SHOF and has an active presence at the exhibit. One case features the disco-esque lime green Dior tuxedo Rodgers wore to the 2023 GRAMMY Awards, along with the shiny metallic helmets of French dance duo Daft Punk, who collaborated with Rodgers on their GRAMMY-winning 2013 album, Random Access Memories.

Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk and Rodgers had forged a friendship and been wanting to collab for years prior to 2013's Record Of The Year-winning smash "Get Lucky." When they finally connected and Bangalter and de Homem-Christo played the CHIC founder the demo for "Get Lucky," he asked to hear it again with everything muted except the drum track, so he could create the perfect guitar lick for it.

Bangalter and de Homem-Christo decided to essentially re-record the whole song to fit Rodgers' guitar, which joyously drives the track — and carried it to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, Daft Punk's first Top 5 hit.

Nile Rodgers Display at GRAMMY Museum

Photo: Rebecca Sapp

Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Set Up Their Studio The "Wrong" Way Because Of Prince

In the exhibit film, Jimmy Jam tells several stories about working with — and learning from — Prince. He recalls how he and Terry Lewis watched Prince work and record everything "in the red," so they set up their Minneapolis studio to follow his lead. A sound engineer told them it was too loud, but that ended up being the sound that artists like Janet Jackson and Usher came to them for. It was a "happy mistake," as Jam put it, that helped their legendary careers as a powerhouse production duo take off.

Prince's dogmatic, tireless work ethic also rubbed off on the powerhouse pair. One rehearsal, the Purple One kept pressing Jam to do more, which resulted in him playing two instruments, singing and hitting the choreography from behind his keyboard. "He saw that I could do more than I thought I could; he saw me better than I saw myself," he reflected.

"God Bless America" Composer Irving Berlin Didn't Read Music

In his 50 year-career, Irving Berlin wrote over 1000 songs, many of which defined American popular music for the better part of the 20th century. Along with penning "God Bless America," "White Christmas," "Puttin' on the Ritz," and "There's No Business Like Show Business" (among many other classics), he wrote 17 full Broadway musical scores and contributed songs to six more plays.

Berlin also wrote scores for early Hollywood musicals starring the likes of Ginger Rodgers, Fred Astaire, Marilyn Monroe, and Bing Crosby. He made a lasting, indelible mark on music, theater, film and American culture writ large.

Rather astonishingly, the widely celebrated American Tin Pan Alley-era composer was self-taught and didn't read sheet music. His family immigrated to New York from Imperial Russia when he was 5 years old, and when he was just 13, his father died, so he busked on the streets and worked as a singing waiter to help his family out.

In 1907, at 19, he had his first song published, and just four years later penned his first international hit, "Alexander's Ragtime Band." Berlin had a natural musicality and played music by ear in the key of F-sharp, with the help of his trusted upright transposing piano, a rare instrument that had a mechanism allowing him to shift into different keys. His "trick piano," as he called it, where many of his unforgettable songs first came to life, is on display at the exhibit.

Read More: GRAMMY Rewind: Smokey Robinson Accepts A GRAMMY On Behalf Of The Temptations In 1973

Smokey Robinson Didn't Expect "My Girl" To Become A Timeless Hit

Smokey Robinson was an important part of Motown's hit-making factory as a singer, songwriter and producer. In the exhibit film, he discusses "My Girl," one of his classic tunes, which he wrote and produced for the Temptations in 1965.

"I had no idea it would become what it would become," he said.

He says that people often ask him why he didn't record the unforgettable song with his group the Miracles instead of "giving it away" to the Temptations, but he never regretted his decision. Instead, he's honored to have created music that stands the test of time and means so much to so many people.

Robinson joked that the Temptations' then-lead singer David Ruffin's gruff voice scared girls into going out with him. Really, he loved Ruffin's voice, and thought he'd sound great singing a sweet love song like "My Girl." Safe to say he was right.

After World War II, Pop Music Changed Forever

Prior to World War II, American music operated as a singular mainstream market, and New York's Tin Pan Alley songwriters competed to make the next pop or Broadway hit. In a post-World War II America, especially when the early Baby Boomer generation became teenagers and young adults in the '60s and '70s, tastes changed and new styles of pop and pop songwriting emerged. As rock shook up popular culture, Tin Pan Alley gave way to a new era of young songwriters, many who worked out of just two buildings in midtown Manhattan, 1619 Broadway (the Brill Building) and 1650 Broadway.

In this richly creative and collaborative environment, powerhouse songwriting duos began to emerge and reshape pop music, challenging and balancing each other — and creating a ton of hits in the process. The hit-making duos of this diversified pop era included Burt Bacharach and Hal David (Dionne Warrick's "That's What Friends Are For"), Carole King and Gerry Goffin (Little Eva's "The Loco-Motion"), Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'") and Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich (the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" and the Crystals' "Then He Kissed Me," both in collaboration with Phil Spector). In fact, there are far too many classics penned by these four prolific songwriter duos to list here.

While there are still songwriters that pen big hit after hit for pop stars (Max Martin is still at it, as is his protege Oscar Görres), the dynamics in the industry have continued to shift with singers taking on more creative power themselves. Today's pop stars — including Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift — have found success co-writing with their own trusted teams of songwriters and producers. But as this new exhibit shows, it doesn't matter who is behind the pen — the power of song is mighty.

Meet Tobias Jesso Jr., The First-Ever GRAMMY Winner For Songwriter Of The Year