Paul and Ringo: Grammys give old folks a few moments

The nice folks on the MSNBC program, The Cycle, said Sunday Night’s Grammy Awards Show was the second most watched Grammys broadcast in 20 years. There’s no reason to doubt them, the numbers are easy enough to verify. The real question is: who watches?

Of course, there has to be enough viewers to justify giving up a whole Sunday’s evening of prime time viewing, but the second most viewers in 20 years? According to Neilson there were 28 million people in America watching, if you’re wondering. And that was just on televisions. In this age we can watch them on other platforms as well.

LL Cool J hosted the 56th Annual Grammy Awards again. He does it well. (Photo is screen shot from YouTube video)
LL Cool J hosted the 56th Annual Grammy Awards again. He does it well.
(Photo is screen shot from YouTube video)

So, okay, there’s a financial incentive to broadcast the 56th Annual Grammy Awards; most of the viewers are probably young people, the demographic I generally don’t associate with on a regular basis, but is the preferred advertising demographic of the networks. Not that young people are objectionable; there are quite a few young people that I enjoy hanging out with from time-to-time, but in my close circle of friends I can only think of one who is younger than 45 … well, 50, but I won’t divulge the ages of the others.

This one friend who is in her mid-30’s didn’t watch the Grammys either.

This year though old people would have loved the Grammy Awards, or at least anticipated watching at least part of them: the last two remaining Beatles got together for a segment …

“Mr. Tim … what’s a Beetle?”
That’s Beatle — B-E-A-T-L-E-S — with an “A.” They were — are — the greatest rock band in the history of Rock’n’Roll.
“Rockin’ Roll?”
Rock AND Roll, or just Rock’n’Roll.
“Is that what you called it, like 50 years ago?”
Fuckin’ young people.

Okay, that’s an extrapolation of an actual conversation, a slight exaggeration if you will. Most young people know who the Beatles were, although quite a few don’t know who the remaining Beatles are. Here’s a quick tutorial: the Beatles came from Liverpool, England. They started as a band in 1960 — some say 1957 when John Lennon and Paul McCartney met and joined musical forces.

Eventually they became four guys who wanted to emulate the American Rock’n’Roll they heard on the radio. They didn’t have iPods and not all of them even had record players. They shared their records, 45’s mostly. They were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe on drums.

Stu left the band, replaced by Pete Best. In 1962 Best was replaced by Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr. They recorded their first #1 hit, “Please, Please Me” and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Beatles arrive in America at JFK Airport, February 7, 1964. Photo via Wikipedia)
The Beatles arrive in America at JFK Airport, February 7, 1964.
Photo via Wikipedia)

Part of that history is how they came to America. Now, before the Beatles Rock’n’Roll stars could be seen all over television. In 1956 the Ed Sullivan Show infamously showed Elvis Presley from the waist up because it was thought, at the time, showing his pelvis and legs was too licentious.

He did things with his pelvis that could only be described as provocative, if not downright venal — pornographic!

Yes, the rulers of America, that is to say the old folks of America, considered Elvis Presley to be the very manifestation of Satan himself and his influence would lead their children, their daughters in particular, into lives of seduction and sin, with no possibility of redemption, through human or divine intervention.

Except for a few old folks like Ed Sullivan who thought Elvis’s popularity would be good for ratings and voila! Elvis Presley was on the Ed Sullivan Show, September 9, 1956 with actor Charles Laughton hosting, due to Ed Sullivan being in the hospital after a car accident.

Look it up.

Taylor Swift performed "All Too Well." (Photo is screen shot from YouTube video)
Taylor Swift performed “All Too Well.”
(Photo is screen shot from YouTube video)

So, in the winter of 1963 I accompanied my sister Cheryl to the Arlen’s Department Store on West Forest Home Ave, off 35th Street, getting close to that scary area of town (for a seven-year old) where the sky seemed gray because it was always filled with the smoke and smog of industry.

Cheryl was looking for specific Beatles albums. I had barely heard of the Beatles, but Cheryl was a devout Beatles fan, sucked into Beatlemania by the swinging pop tones of the oncoming British Invasion.

Soon to follow would be the Dave Clark Five and the Rolling Stones, but in December 1963 it was only the Beatles. Cheryl didn’t find anything she didn’t already have, but even then Arlen’s had quite a collection of Beatles albums. It was astounding to think Cheryl had a copy of all Arlen’s had to offer.

  • For many years after I considered Arlen’s to be the best place to find albums. It’s where I bought my first copies of The Mothers of Invention albums, We’re Only In It For The Money, Freak Out, Waka/Jawaka and the Frank Zappa album, Hot Rats.

Yes, Cheryl left Arlen’s empty-handed, but by this point we knew the Beatles would be coming to America, via the Ed Sullivan Show and it became, in our household, the most anticipated TV event ever. That turned about to be true for 45 percent of the homes in America.

Beyoncé and jay-Z perform "Drunk Love" (Photo is screen shot from YouTube video)
Beyoncé and jay-Z perform “Drunk Love”
(Photo is screen shot from YouTube video)

Our family disputes how and where we watched it, but my recollection was watching it next door at the Otto’s. Whatever, we watched The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 9, 1964. The first two songs the Beatles played on American soil were “All My Loving” and “She Loves You.”

In the second half of the show the Beatles played “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

So, on Sunday Night’s broadcast of the Grammy Awards the two surviving members of the most influential Rock’n’Roll band ever played a new Paul McCartney song, “Queenie Eye.” They are in the top photo, a screen shot of a YouTube video.

The video for “Queenie Eye” features a bevy of stars, including Kate Moss, Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep.

And here’s why the producers of the Grammy Awards Show included music by old people: although they had nearly 30 million viewers, the Super Bowl, which is coming up February 2, will have nearly 70 million viewers. This is just a guess of course, but TV programming is all about viewership.

Over half the homes in America will be tuned into the Super Bowl. Nearly half the homes in America were tuned into the Ed Sullivan Show when the Beatles debuted in 1964. All of a sudden 28 mil is … eh.

Old people don’t get rap music — hip-hop if you’re young and hip — whether it’s white people or Blacks performing. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? Most old people have never heard of them. And their big hit that won a Grammy is a gay anthem.

Madonna performed the wedding song, "Open Your Heart" and Queen Latifah performed the ceremony. (Photos screen shots from YouTube video)
Madonna performed the wedding song, “Open Your Heart” and Queen Latifah performed the ceremony.
(Photos screen shots from YouTube video)

Not only did Macklemore and Ryan Lewis play “Same Love,” Queen Latifah came out and officiated the nuptials of 33 couples, many of which were same-sex couples.

Okay, most old people are okay with marriage equality, but really, putting it on display like that makes a lot of old people uncomfortable and believe you me, they already feel a bit guilty about it so cut’em a break. They voted for Barack Obama — twice — and nodded approvingly when the Supreme Court came down on the side of equality and President Obama said he had evolved on the issue of same-sex marriage … but we’re still a little Archie Bunkerish about seeing it. And how many of us have an Edith to balance out our emotions?

Okay, a lot of young people are scratching their crotches thinking, “Archie Bunker and Edith?”

All in the Family; Google it then look it up on IMDb and Wikipedia.

The one highlight of the group wedding was the reaction from people like radio talk show host and FoxNews personality Todd Starnes. He jumped on the Twitter and Facebook to denounce the Grammys, especially the wedding. The reason being: he was promoting his latest book, the title of which doesn’t need to be displayed here.

Daft Punk took home two Grammy Awards. (Photo is screen shot from YouTube)
Daft Punk took home two Grammy Awards.
(Photo is screen shot from YouTube)

The Grammys have never been for old people, even when today’s old people were young people getting cursed by the old people of the day. Which lends this bit it of reality to the evolution of music and culture: every generation is going to ruffle the feathers of the generations that came before. The old people will tut-tut over Miley Cyrus swinging around nude on a wrecking ball or twerking with a man not her husband at an awards show; old people will always claim the music of “today” isn’t nearly as good as the music of of their youth — heck, Classic Rock is still one of the most popular formats in radio.

Old people will always state that the current musical performers have gone too far. In the 1980’s old people even got the government to force the music industry to put warning labels on music. Nobody gives a damn anymore.

If history is a harbinger of the future, in 30 years the young people of today will look at the current young music stars and think they have gone too far and tut-tut about how their children are being corrupted by the culture on display at awards shows.

Lorde won two Grammy Awards for her song, "Royals." (Photo is screen shot from YouTube video)
Lorde won two Grammy Awards for her song, “Royals.”
(Photo is screen shot from YouTube video)

And, you can bet, the young people of today will not be watching the Grammy Awards Show in 30 years because they just won’t relate to the popular music of the time.

Past is prologue.


My apologies to the young people who need no tutorials on our musical and television history. I salute you. It’s a good bet you know who all the guests are in Paul McCartney’s video for “Queenie Eye,” which is more than I can see for most of the people in my generation.

Here’s what most people consider the best performance of the night: Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons.

Personally, my favorite performance was by Pink. Aerial acrobatics always trump everything else. Doesn’t even matter if she was lip-syncing while suspended above the stage and audience.

Jeez, I didn’t even mention Beyoncé’s sexy performance of “Drunk Love” with hubby Jay-Z. They were grinding like two teenagers in heat at a CYO dance.

Nor did I mention Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath introducing Ringo Starr. The Beatle did “Photograph,” but the question is: did anyone understand a word of what the Sabbath guys said?

The worst performance? It wasn’t the performers, it was the network, CBS. Trent Reznor, along with Dave Grohl and Lindsey Buckingham were performing the last music segment of the night and CBS began to cut away, running the credits and then ending the broadcast before they were finished with the song.

That would be like cutting this off before