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Safety and Sentimentality

Dr. Spin looks at the Super Bowl, the Grammys and reader mail.

by Dr. Spin
February 21, 2005

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After the fallout of the “wardrobe malfunction” of last year, it was no surprise that NFL officials would look for a “tamer” and “safer” performer for this year’s halftime show. Who knew Sir Paul McCartney would fit the bill?
McCartney has always honed the nice-guy image, even during the Beatles days. Back in 1967, fans were shocked, SHOCKED, that even cute and cuddly Paul had taken LSD. As a grandfather and all around good guy, it was clear McCartney would not have any lewd or offensive material, but isn’t it just a little insulting to consider him a “safe” choice? Isn’t this the man that (with the other Beatles) performed an illegal concert on the rooftop of Apple Studios thirty-five years ago and was forced to stop by the London police? And what about his infamous drug bust in Japan 25 years ago?
While McCartney chose crowd-pleasers (and curiously all Beatle tunes, save “Live And Let Die”), it would have been nice for Paul to dig deeper into his repertoire, maybe something from Ram or Band on the Run. The Stones do it every now and then, why not Mac?
Looking at all the performers, it is clear that the NFL strove for diverse yet “safe” acts. The contemporary/pop crowd got Alicia Keys singing “America the Beautiful” in tribute to Ray Charles. Hip-hop fans got Black Eyed Peas with band member Fergie toning down her hoochie look just a tad. For country fans, we got Gretchen Wilson and Charlie Daniels, who even went so PC, he changed the lyric of “Devil Went Down to Georgia” to “son of a gun.” Only John Fogerty had the moxy to play “Fortunate Son” and “Bad Moon Rising,” two songs with a hint that maybe something bigger than the Super Bowl was going on in the world.
But enough of the Super Bowl, let’s talk Grammys. As a music critic, I suppose I should pay more attention to the Grammys, but I really don’t care. There are too many overlapping awards (Best Song, Best Record, Best Vocal Performance, etc.) and the Grammys almost always get at least one thing wrong. Obviously sentimentality ruled the event, as Ray Charles received eight awards posthumously. This is not to say Charles performance did not deserve to win, but one can’t help but wonder how many would have gone to him had he been alive and healthy.
Rumors of the death of the “rock opera” appear to be overly exaggerated, as Green Day won Best Rock Album for the “first punk rock opera,” American Idiot. I confess I have not heard it myself, but by the response from critics and music fans alike, it seems well-deserved. Perhaps Dr, Spin will have to put it on his wish list.
Finally, Dr. Spin could not resist closing this article without answering a reader question:
Where can I find the lyrics to "Going Down" as performed by Jeff Beck? It was on his Best of Beck album.

Dear Thanks,
“Going Down” was written by Don Nix. Nix is a somewhat obscure white bluesman who started performing with Donald “Duck” Dunn and Steve Cropper (part of the legendary Stax Records groups). Nix’s career has never been prolific and he has served mainly as a producer and back-up musician, though he has released several solo albums. However, the song “Going Down” is a blues classic, and has been covered by several acts, including Jeff Beck and the Who. Try doing a Google ®search for the lyrics under Don Nix; I’m sure you’ll find them.

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