Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 12, 2007; 12:00 PM

Washington Post music critic J. Freedom du Lac will be online Monday at noon ET to discuss the winners, losers, surprises and everything else from the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

The transcript follows.

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washingtonpost.com: At the Grammys, Making Very Nice; The Dixie Chicks Take Five, Including Album of the Year

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J. Freedom du Lac: Hola from Hollywood, peoples. How 'bout them Chicks? Let's talk Grammy.

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N.Y, N.Y.: The Dixie Chicks for Album of the year? Was this a comment on thier "music" or a Sally Field - "we really like you" moment?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes and yes. It's a great album (We At The Washington Post named "Taking the Long Way" as the No. 1 album of 2006), but you have to think that some voters were also making a statement. Still, when you consider the field, the right album won. Gnarls, the Chili Peppers, Timberlake and John Mayer didn't deserve to win over the Chicks. Dylan, however, should have also been in the mix -- probably over Mayer. A joke that he wasn't nominated.

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Reston, Va.: Dixie Chicks. Love them as country, hate their whining. They've blamed their fall in the charts on Maines' remarks. Could it be because they've redefined themselves as pop?

J. Freedom du Lac: Absolutely not. At the time of The Incident, as they call it, "Travelin' Solider" was No. 1 on the country charts. Almost immediately, though, it disappeared from country radio playlists. The backlash was officially on. And it's not like the country world is inherently opposed to pop stars. Just look at the success Faith Hill and Shania Twain have had. They're about as country as I am.

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Concord, N.H.: How much of this Dixie Chicks stuff is a larger battle between Hollywood/New York and Nashville?

J. Freedom du Lac: Good question. In the final version of my story (available on This Very Web Site), I quote the Recording Academy's president Neil Portnow on the question of what the vote means -- and who the voters are. He was asked whether the Recording Academy is basically a bi-coastal group (the implication being that it could be out of touch with middle America), and he scoffed at the notion, saying there are 11,000 voting members in 12 chapters across the country. Not sure what percentage of the voters are on the coasts, but the LA and New York chapters surely account for the majority of the academy's voting membership. Nashville would likely be the third-biggest group.

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Orange, Va.: As Grammy telecasts go, I thought last night was better than most EXCEPT for the train wreck that was the Eagles covers by Rascal Flats. Sheesh, "Life In The Fast Lane", was painful. Only their lead singer could make Don Henley seem kinda hip.

J. Freedom du Lac: Honestly, I took off my headset for that medley. It seemed like a very strange idea - Bob Wills plus three Eagles songs by a couple of lightweight performers? Nah. I mean, Carrie Underwood is perfectly pleasant (and gee, ain't she purty?) but she doesn't really excite. And I really don't care for Rascal Flatts. At least they didn't cover REO Speedwagon, though that would be playing to their strength.

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Best New Artist: Bah humbug. Why couldn't they have given James Blunt, or even Imogen Heap, the kiss of death? Either of them are far more irritating than Carrie Underwood.

J. Freedom du Lac: Does anybody else think that James Blunt should wear sunglasses when he sings? He has psycho-killer eyes. Best new artists ain't a kiss of death anymore, but I was rooting for Imogen Heap, if only because she wears the most interesting hats among the nominated artists. I did, however, think it kinda strange that she was even nominated. What about, say, KT Tunstall?

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Herndon, Va.: Timberlake. Your take. He stunned me as to how good a performer he is.

J. Freedom du Lac: He was pretty OK, but something seemed to be off with his voice and overall energy. Apparently, he's been sick -- and even cancelled his appearance at the big Clive Davis pre-Grammy party on Saturday. I saw him during rehearsal on Sunday morning and he was definitely dragging. Absolutely hated the idea of the hand-held camera. Or maybe I liked the idea but hated the execution. Whatever; it didn't work.

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Seattle, Wash.: The pressures of being a grownup and parenthood keep me from being the pop-idol worshipper I once was/would still like to be, so I have to ask, how were the Police?

J. Freedom du Lac: Wasn't as exciting as it could/should have been. They did "Roxanne," and it was similar to Sting doing the song solo -- only this time backed by his old bandmates. He's singing lower now, too. At least yesterday he was. I still think they're capable of giving good show, though. Looking forward to the tour.

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Bethesda, Md.: What was the reaction of the country establishment artists to the Chicks winning best country group? I heard that Reba Mcintire made a face and some country stars did not clap and Carrie Underwood said or did not say some things. What is the scoop?

J. Freedom du Lac: I didn't see Reba's reaction to the country album announcement, but in a stroke of editing genius, the director had a camera on her after the Chicks won duo/group country vocal and she looked ... bemused. Carrie ducked our questions about what the establishment thinks of their win and no other country types came through the press room after her, save for the Dixie Chicks, who finally showed up at around 1 am EST.

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: If they changed the Grammys to be called "The Worst Music Made This Year" would the nominees have been the same? Black Eyed Peas?! Chamillioinaire?! American Idols!?! Ugh.

J. Freedom du Lac: Some yes, some no.

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Baltimore, Md.: Hey J. Free,

First of all, congrats to you on picking "Taking the Long Way" as Album of the Year way before the Grammys did. I'm happy for the Dixie Chicks, talk about sweet vindication.

My question is about genre classification and categories. Who decides which album/song goes into which category? I don't think the Dixie Chicks consider "Taking the Long Way" to be a country album, and the fact that it won in that category is completely ironic (as Natalie Maines not-so-subtly said last night). Does the Academy decide what goes where, or is that up to the artist?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, yay me for calling this. Though I didn't forsee a major-category sweep - and definitely didn't think they'd win country album of the year. In fact, I'd just typed a sentence saying they didn't win that category when they were announced as the winner. Completely shocking.

I don't believe that the artists get to decide what categories they wind up in. Pretty sure it's a decision made by the nominating label.

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Reston, Va.: Do you think the Grammys represent contemporary music? Some of the songs they awarded were 2 years old, and the same groups get nominated year after year. My kids won't even watch it (old fogey music).

J. Freedom du Lac: Definitely not a big night for the yutes as the awards skewed old (don't they always?). As one of my colleagues noted last night, it felt like we were watching a VH1 show or something.

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Washington, D.C.: Can you explain to me the difference between album of the year, record of the year and song of the year? I have never understood how these aren't the exact same award.

J. Freedom du Lac: Album = the full-length recording. Record = a specific track, and the award honors the performance (vocals and music) as well as the production. Song = a songwriting award for a specific song.

It would probably help if the Recording Academy changed the middle category to single of the year.

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My Humps!?!?!?: Are you kidding me? That is one of the worst songs ever produced. Did the BEP's win just because of Fergie's short skirts?

J. Freedom du Lac: When "My Humps" was announced as the winner (category: best pop performance by a duo or group with completely stupid vocal), more than a few folks in the press room gasped. Not the Recording Academy's finest moment. And what a weird category -- they were up against the Fray, Keane, Pussycat Dolls and (oddly enough) Death Cab for Cutie. I might have gone with a write-in vote myself.

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Washington, D.C.: Let me preface my comment by saying that I think Cee-Lo is a genius, & Gnarls Barkly performances are generally awesome. I was, however, really surprised that St. Elsewhere was nominated for album of the year. Sure Crazy is a great song but the rest of that album is pretty average, and at least 4 or 5 tracks are plain awful. Your thoughts?

J. Freedom du Lac: I agree -- it's not a great album, in my opinion. More like one incredible single plus, well, some other stuff. I thought "Crazy" deserved to win record of the year, but you can't stop a sweep so they got steamrolled by the Dixie Chicks. By the by, ran into Cee-Lo's ex-Goodie Mob bandmate, Big Gipp, at an industry event on Saturday. Gipp's manager says they're working on a new Goodie Mob project. Could be interesting. Their stuff was underrated - always overshadowed by OutKast.

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Chattanooga, Tenn.: How long do you think Bob Dylan cried when he wasn't nominated for Album of the Year? For hours? Days? Is he crying still?

J. Freedom du Lac: No, he's probably laughing at the idea of winning a best rock vocal award. How funny is that? (Very, if you've paid close attention to his voice lately.)

A real shame that he was omitted from the album of the year category, though. "Modern Times" absolutely deserved to be in the mix. And it's not like the nominating committee has anything against Dylan -- his two previous CDs got album of the year noms. So strange.

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: Don't know if you saw the Grammy show commercials, but I thought that in the aggregate they were better than the Super Bowl ads. Do you or the chatters agree/disagree?

J. Freedom du Lac: Didn't see them. The press-room feed was of the show only. During the breaks, all we could hear was the open-mic chatter in Staples. Any thoughts?

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Sterling, Va.: Any inside skinny on Ludacris giving a shout-out to Oprah and BILL O'REILLY????

J. Freedom du Lac: O'Reilly and Luda have been beefing for years -- ever since O'Reilly decided to launch a moral crusade against the rapper. Plays well with his audience. Created problems with Luda's relationship with Pepsi, but it also did decent things for his visibility and credibility. Nice going, Bill. Oprah hasn't shown much love for hip-hop, so hip-hop artists have been giving her a hard time lately.

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Washington, DC: Anyone else love Chris Brown's performance? I thought it was such an electrifying, fun song/dance combination in comparison to some of the other performers.

J. Freedom du Lac: Absolutely electrifying. He has some funky footwork. Love that kid. Tappahannock, Va, represent!

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Washington, D.C.: How did James Blunt not win at least one for U're Beautiful? Was it all wrong timing? Was the song overplayed and ppl got tired of it? He surely would have won if he had been nominated last year.

J. Freedom du Lac: Backlash, possibly. Or maybe Grammy voters just don't like the sound of Blunt's voice. I know I don't. Sounds like his junk is in a vice.

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Washington, D.C.: The Boss won for best Folk album, and Dylan won a rock grammy? Color me confused...

J. Freedom du Lac: The Boss didn't just win for folk -- he won for TRADITIONAL folk. But it made sense: The album was all about old songs popularized by Pete Seeger.

As for Dylan: Yes, rock. Weird, innit? He also won for contemporary folk album.

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J. Freedom du Lac: Confidential to the idiot poster inquiring about CD players: Upper left drawer. Now leave me alone.

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Washington, D.C.: Let's talk about Gnarls Barkley for a minute... Shouldn't that album have won for Least Maximization of Talent? Cee-Lo and Dangermouse, two of the very best at what they do, somehow managed to put out a completely average, totally forgettable album. What gives?

J. Freedom du Lac: But what a great single! The track should have been celebrated. No single piece of pop music was better in 2006.

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Woodbridge, Va.: I don't know too much about the Dixie Chicks but I did notice that each time they won, the blonde Chick was very uncomfortable speaking and avoided the mic. When she did have a chance to speak she pushed the man up to speak. Is she known to be really shy? It just seemed odd that the other 2 girls spoke and then the guy (and who was he?) spoke and not her.

J. Freedom du Lac: The sisters have been deferring to Natalie for a long time now, and both of them seem a little bit uncomfortable in the spotlight.

What I found odd/interesting was that they had multiple shots at the podium, with millions watching, and they never did seize the moment to speak their mind about the world circa 2007. Almost as though they'd made a conscious decision not to get political. But when they came backstage, Natalie opened up a little bit, saying: "I'm worried about our future as a country." She said this in a room full of reporters, so it's not like it was a private thought that she wanted to keep to herself. So why not say that in an acceptance speech?

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Desperate to be hip: The name of the single by Dangermouse and Cee-Lo that's so good?

J. Freedom du Lac:"Crazy."

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Silver Spring, Md.: I caught glimpses of the Grammys - overall pretty good. What happened to Corinne Bailey Rae? I heard she had three nominations but didn't see her in the winners column of the Post today.

J. Freedom du Lac: She, too, got run over by the Dixie Chicks. Also couldn't hang with Carrie Underwood in the best new artist race. CBR probably would have won an award or two if she'd been nominated in some lesser categories.

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My Humps: Come on, J. Free-- that song is pure poetry! "My Humps, My Humps, my lovely lady lumps." I mean, do you think Lennon & McCartney could have crafted a better song? I think not.

J. Freedom du Lac: You're right. Upon further review, I'm shocked -- SHOCKED -- that My Humps wasn't up for song of the year. will.i.am is the new ee cummings.

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Clearly an old geezer: I'm obviously an old fart. I think Chris Brown was ridiculous. Of course, I also thought the Police and Lionel Ritchie were boring. I did think John Legend was excellent, though, so maybe there's hope for me.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, obviously. We agree on John Legend, though - absolutely. He's just marvelous. One of the highlights of my week in LA was a songwriting panel at the Key Club on Saturday afternoon. Seven writers up there talking about some of the songs they've written -- and a few of them performed their tunes. John Legend did two at the piano and brought the house down. Though he was overshadowed by the country writer Jeffrey Steele, who told the crowd that his son died two weeks back in an ATV accident and that he wasn't sure he wanted to be there but decided it was good to get out of the house and that the song he was going to play had new meaning for him given recent events ... at which point he played an incredibly powerful version of "What Hurts the Most," a song that I don't particularly care for in the treacly hands of the Rascal Flatts but that sounded so amazing as a solo piano number. Lots of tears in that room (the moderator had to leave the stage, she was so torn up). Also a lot of people, including moi, wondering why Steele doesn't sing some of his own songs as a recording artist.

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Columbia, Md.: Were you up late partying? You seem a wee bit grumpy this fine day.....

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm always grumpy, but especially so when I have to go on the radio at 5:20 local time after staying out well past midnight. Now leave me alone.

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N.Y., N.Y.: I understand (but don't accept) country radio's banning of the Dixie Chicks, but what's up with AC radio's relunctance?

J. Freedom du Lac: Obviously, there's something in their research that indicates the listeners won't respond favorably. Because commercial radio is all about research. (Check out Marc Fisher's new book on radio for more insight.)

I'm very curious to see what kind of Grammy bounce the Dixie Chicks get. Their sales are going to spike for sure; question is, by how much? I read a quote by the great Rick Rubin recently where he said something about "Taking the Long Way" being somewhat of a disappointment commercially. This despite the fact that it was one of the 10 best-selling albums of 2006. Between the sweep and the strong performance last night (I'm sure that was the first time a lot of people had heard anything from the album), they could wind up selling a lot of extra albums.

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Washington, D.C.: Maybe Gnarls should have done more anti-war work.

J. Freedom du Lac: Personally, I think they were done in by the togas they were on stage at V-Fest in Baltimore. Grammy voters don't forget, you know.

Re anti-war work: I really wanted Neil Young to win something for his not-very-good "Living With War" album if only see him on the soapbox.

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Tysons Corner, Va.: Your piece was outstanding. Great backstage comments. Gotta love Ike Turner.

So, did Vince Gill have anything to say about his victory for "The Reason Why"? That's a great song, but with all the talk about Country at the GRAMMYs this year, I've not heard a thing about Gill.

J. Freedom du Lac: Ike was pretty twitchy when he came backstage. But his comment about the suit was a classic. As was the suit itself.

Never did see Vince Gill in the press room. He was one of the few who skipped. Something we said? Yeah, probably. I like his vocal on that song, too -- though I might have voted for Josh Turner's "Would You Go With Me."

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Dixie Chicks: J. Free: Those Grammys had to provide a little sweet revenge for the Chicks, but I think it may be a short-lived victory. What were the sales of that CD? How well can they leverage their win if they're not getting airplay on country stations? Is anybody playing it now or going to play it? In other words, what do they do next?

J. Freedom du Lac: The album wasn't a blockbuster, but there are no blockbusters anymore. A Top 10 best-seller is nothing to sneeze at.

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20003: So when are some broadcasting folks gonna get smart and start an "All Shakira All the Time" channel? Boo-yah!!

J. Freedom du Lac: Not soon enough, my friend. Not. Soon. E. Nough.

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Grammy-land, Calif.: JF: With the Great J Freedom available at the keyboard in California WHY did your newspaper use so many wire stories covering the Grammys???

J. Freedom du Lac: Our Web site always offers a lot of wire in addition to the staff-written stuff. All about volume, baby! My all-time favorite post.com wire story? The short Associated Press recap of a story I'd written and reported on Joni Mitchell's "River." Why we decided to put a wire story about our own story on our Web site is beyond me.

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Washington, D.C.: J. Free -

The Police have a webcast today at 2:00 (http://www.thepolicerehearsals.com) - any idea if they are actually doing a rehearsal and playing songs or just announcing the tour? I've read a couple reviews not too hot on their performance last night - my only complaint is they didn't get to do two or three songs, I thought they sounded great!

PS - I read Andy Summers is 11 months older than Keith Richards, he looks about 20 years younger!

J. Freedom du Lac: They're doing both, I believe: Open rehearsal and an announcement by Live Nation. Not sure if they're planning to release the itinerary today, but word on the streets (Sunset Strip, anyway) is that DC is on the schedule.

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McLean, Va.: So was the theme of this year's show to see who could come up with the most over-the-top performance? Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera...it just kept getting more ridiculous by the moment.

J. Freedom du Lac: I thought Mary sounded great, actually. And I don't typically love her voice. She was on fire. And if you're turning to her music for emotional restraint, then you've come to the wrong place.

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Chicks Top 10 Best Selling?:2006 Not Ready To Make Nice Adult Contemporary 32

2006 Not Ready To Make Nice Hot Country Songs 36

2006 Not Ready To Make Nice Pop 100 23

2006 Not Ready To Make Nice The Billboard Hot 100 23

J. Freedom du Lac: Those aren't sales charts. Nielsen SoundScan had them in the year-end Top 10 with 1.86 million sold.

Top 10 albums (physical and digital sales combined, Jan. 2 to Dec. 31):

1. High School Musical: 3.72 million

2. Rascal Flatts/Me and My Gang: 3.48 million

3. Carrie Underwood/Some Hearts: 3.02 million

4. Nickelback/All the Right Reasons: 2.69 million

5. Justin Timberlake/Futuresex/Lovesounds: 2.38 million

6. James Blunt/Back to Bedlam: 2.14 million

7. Beyonce/B'day: 2.01 million

8. Hannah Montana: 1.99 million

9. Dixie Chicks/Taking the Long Way: 1.86 million

10. Hinder/Extreme Behavior: 1.82 million

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Bethesda, Md.: Have the Grammys regained any legitimacy since awarding Milli Vanili a Grammy several years ago?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes.

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John Legend may be well-named: I'm nearly 50 but try to keep an open ear to the new artists coming on the scene. Frankly, most of them fail to impress, but the more I hear of John Legend, the more I think he's the real thing, a real talent, someone who will be around for some time to come. I don't know how many Grammys he won last night and don't care. He blew away John Mayer and Corinne Bailey Rae in their performance last night.

J. Freedom du Lac: I absolutely agree - he's a major talent as a songwriter, musician and singer. The most exciting arrival in R&B in a long time. He'll be touring this summer with Corinne Bailey Rae -- coming to Merriweather Post on April 28. His real name, by the way, is John Stephens.

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Hips don't Lie: J Freedom,

I'm in my fifties and love Mr. Bennett and Wonder. But no way do they win best pop duo. If it doesn't go to Wyclef and Shakira then it should go to Nelly Furtado and Timbaland.

J. Freedom du Lac: The Recording Academy loves the old-timers. That was Stevie's 25th Grammy, Bennett's 14th (he won another award earlier in the night). Chick Corea and Springsteen are up to 14 now, too. Vince Gill got his 18th. John Williams Nos. 19 and 20. Jimmy Sturr, 16. Grammys beget Grammys, apparently.

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Washington, D.C.: Red Hot Chili Peppers win four Grammys. Are the awards really for current work, or more recognition for a long history? I don't think their current stuff is as good as earlier.

J. Freedom du Lac: Supposedly for current work but the Recording Academy often finds itself playing catch-up.

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23112: I wish they'd done a different song, but wow, the Police threw it down. My wife wants to see them live...it'd be nice if there were a glimmer of hope for that happening, considering how good ticket scalpers have gotten. Alas, my attention span for the Grammys lasted about as long as it took Jamie Foxx to realize his first joke bombed (but I did laugh at the BET comment).

J. Freedom du Lac: Could happen if they play a large enough venue. FedEx Field, for instance. Or, I don't know -- something a little bit more unconventional, like Pimlico. If they do smaller venues, though -- Nissan or Merriweather, for example -- then forget it because, you're right, the scalpers are going to wind up asking for the title to your car.

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Falls Church, Va: The real measure of the Chicks sales is to compare most-recent album with sales of previous...their last album before this sold 8 million, I think...

J. Freedom du Lac: Nobody lives up to their previous sales anymore. Sales continue to plummet industry-wide. There hasn't been an 8 million-seller in several years. Not last year, not the year before that, and not in 2004, either. Not sure about 2003 since I don't have my SoundScan folder here, but the top end of album sales seems to have dropped by a million or more every year since 2004. So the real measure of the Chicks sales is to compare their sales figures to the other best-sellers. Carrie Underwood has lapped them, and Rascal Flatts are close. But they've managed to outsell just about every other country artist who came out with an album in 2006 or late 2005.

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Boston, Mass.: I have to disagree with you about Carrie's performances on the Grammys last night, I thought she was great. She is a real genuine talent and getting more interpretive with her singing everyday. Her performance of Desperado, one of my all time favorite songs, gave me chills. She's deserving of all the awards she has won IMO.

J. Freedom du Lac: Noted. I personally don't think her voice is all that interesting or special. Nothing wrong with it, per se; it's just that I don't ever hear her sing and think to myself, "Wow."

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Washington, D.C.: I am not a Shakira fan. Don't really like her music but man when she starts dancing, all of a sudden her music sounds a lot better!! Do I have a problem?

J. Freedom du Lac: You're among friends here. No problem whatsoever. (Unless your wife catches you watching Shakira videos with the sound off. Then you might be in trouble.)

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Toronto, Ontario: I won't give the Grammys any credit, because I'm sure it was an accident, but in their effort to reward the Dixie Chicks for their perserverance, didn't the best of the five nominated albums also happen to win?

Remember the year Celine Dion's trimphant "Falling Into You" beat mediocre efforts by Beck, The Fugees, Smashing Pumpkins and a soundtrack produced by Babyface?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, the best in the field won. And yes, I remember the year Celine won. I thought it was one of the most embarassing moments in Grammy history, which is really saying something. Either The Fugees ("The Score") or Beck ("Odelay") deserved to win that year. Fantastic, critically acclaimed albums. It was great that they were nominated (I think that was the first year that the academy had a blue-chip panel vetting the nominees in the major categories). But it was incredibly lame that they lost. Showed just how out of touch the Grammy voters were.

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Album of the Year: Has a "country" album ever won the prestigious "Album of the Year" award before?

J. Freedom du Lac:"O Brother, Where Art Thou?" won in 2002. Glen Campbell also won once, for "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." But I think that's it.

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Washington, D.C.: Re the "are the Grammys contemporary?" question.

Two words: Jethro Tull.

J. Freedom du Lac: Jeez, speaking of contemporary: Can't you find a more recent reference? And here I thought that my own material was getting stale.

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N.Y., N.Y.: Has Mary J Blige never won a Grammy before? I'm sure she's been up for dozens over her career. Last night she seemed like a deer caught in headlines she was so stuned she won. By the way I think she's a great singer and puts her heart and soul into a performance.

J. Freedom du Lac: She'd won three or four previously. But she was the leading nominee this year (with eight), and she was up for a couple of major awards, and she was obviously a featured attraction during the telecast itself. So it was like a coming-out party for her and, yes, I think she was nervous. She seemed much more vulnerable and humble than usual, but I thought that worked in her favor. Because as we all know, she can be really brash and obnoxious. Couldn't have been sweeter when she came into the press room, though. She got a nice amount of applause, too. (Dirty secret: There IS some cheering in the Grammy press box.)

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Seattle, Wash.: So, looks like Weird Al didn't win for comedy. I thought White & Nerdy was hysterical! And Chamillionaire DID win...borrrrring

J. Freedom du Lac: I was tempted to include "White & Nerdy" in my Top 10 singles list. Pure genius. Chamillionaire actually talked about Weird Al some backstage last night. I wasn't paying close attention, but I think I did hear him say something to the effect of, "Weird Al, he ain't all that weird." Which was kinda funny. (Kinda.)

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Washington, D.C.: Is it just me or was last nights show a big boring snooze? 3 and a half hours and only 11 awards handed out? How many people deserve to get an "honorary" award in one night? Does anyone have any idea what Reba's speech was about? What was the Eagles tribute about anyway? I actually really like the Dixie Chicks but c'mon, they didn't deserve album of the year. And John Mayer beating Justin or Mary J? I think its official that the Grammys have gone the way of the Oscars-safe, boring and OLD. As for the Police, that was cool, I love them but Sting was trying a little to hard to be "hip" in his weird vest thing.

J. Freedom du Lac: One reviewer's review.

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Smokey Robinson: He's the most powerful argument against Botox I have ever seen. Wasn't it creepy when he sang "The Tracks of My Tears" last night with his face frozen solid? It looked like an alien possessed him.

J. Freedom du Lac: Very strange, indeed. He sort of looked like a wax statue on stage. Still in good voice, though, isn't he?

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New York, N.Y.: Where was the rap? That Ludacris performance left a lot to be desired. What a boring song. Why not "Money Maker?" How about Chamillionaire or another nominee?

And Mary J. is getting a little tedious talking about overcoming adversity at every turn. Both her performances seemed perfunctory

J. Freedom du Lac: The Grammys seem to have a hard time booking the right rap artists. Same problem with rock. But it's kind of obvious why they'd want to spotlight Ludacris, isn't it? Mad mainstream appeal. I was glad to see TI get a little bit of stage time during Justin's duet with that My Grammy Moment chick, though that's not exactly the best verse Tip's ever written.

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Starting an argument: From a technical standpoint, isn't Blige ever-so-slightly flat every time she holds a note?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, I've said as much In This Very Space on multiple occasions. She's sort of pitch-impaired. But she seemed to be singing better than usual last night.

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Hair Questions: Hey, do you think that if that Rascal Flatts singer stuck a fork in an electric outlet his hair would relax.

J. Freedom du Lac: Not sure, but I'd be interested to see if that made the band's music any better. (On both accounts: Probably not.)

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Atlanta, Ga.: Was that Stewart Copeland who said, "We're the POLICE, and we're BACK," last night? He seems to be disproportionately enthused about the reunion, at least compared to his bandmates.

J. Freedom du Lac: Well of cour$e he is.

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St Louis, Mo.: As usual, the Grammys show themselves to be the joke that they are. My rant is on one of the more "technical" awards, in this case Best Surround Sound Album.

No surprise, a smooooth Yacht Rock Grammy fav, Donald Fagen, won in that category over other albums that, again from a surround sound standpoint, are head and shoulders above his very lacklaster surround production. I'm talking about Alan Parsons' "A Valid Path" (ain't nobody on the planet short of Bob Ezrin better at surround engineering and production than Alan) and the Norwegian choral album that was also up for the award.

Once again, Grammy voters show themselves to be the ignorant knuckleheads that they are.

J. Freedom du Lac: OK, you can have some soapbox time. Yacht rock references always play here. Can't say I paid any attention whatsoever to that particular category, however.

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Mechanicsburg, Pa.: One poster asks: What was the Eagles tribute about anyway?

The Eagles are the template for modern commercial country music; it's that simple.

Dress up and act as if you're all about working ranches and punchin' dogies, but put out overblown, overproduced pop music, with lyrics that are all about feelin's.

Make the guitars loud, and use lots of flashing lights onstage.

J. Freedom du Lac: Don Henley also received some sort of big industry award during Grammy weekend. Not sure what it was about since I didn't read the press release and didn't pay attention when it was discussed, either during the telecast or in the press room. But I guess they're celebrating him/them this year. Hence, the tribute. (Though not sure what Bob Wills has to do with any of this.)

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Silver Spring, Md.: So last question of the day...

If you could rate last nights Grammys on a scale of 1 - 10, What would it be? Why?

J. Freedom du Lac:10, because I didn't get attacked by a bomb-sniffing dog, I had a fantastic taco-stand lunch, I got to see Shakira perform and I made deadline. Oh, and I also won a bet with The Post's former music editor. I think it was in or around November when I called the race in favor of the Dixie Chicks. I'm coming home soon to collect, my friend!

Thanks for stopping by everybody. Tons of questions; sorry I couldn't get to them all.

I'll be back online for my regularly scheduled Freedom Rock chat next Tuesday at 2 pm EST.

Come on back if I didn't get to your questions today.

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