Not to sound like the ultimate cliche, but there was something about the Grammy Awards that made me sad.
Leave it to Drive-By Truckers' front man Patterson Hood to remind us that not everything in music has become the sonic equivalent of the Big Box store, that some musicians still write and perform from the heart.
He's done that my putting his thoughts -- in this case about Wal-Mart displacing local merchants in his beloved Athens, Georgia -- to music in the song "After It's Gone." Joining him on the song are the Downtown 13 otherwise known as members of Drive-By Truckers, Widespread Panic, R.E.M., Futurebirds, Hope For Agoldensummer, Lera Lynn, Justified True Belief and The Quick Hooks.
Listen or download the song for free. The catch? You need to spend a few seconds -- though Hood likely hopes you'll spend a bit longer -- on the website Protect Downtown Athens. That's where you'll find information about the issue and also a link to hear or download the song (look at the top right corner of the home page). Seems a small price to pay to hear this gem.
This is Hood's first release since he put the Truckers' on hiatus for a short while. He has assured me and other journalists that the band is not breaking up. Each member just wants to regroup and spend some time on solo projects before the Truckers' gear up again.
Like most fans, I mourn the Truckers' downtime but wow -- what a heartfelt side trip Hood is taking us on.
For me, anyway, it couldn't come at a better time.
Watching the Grammy Awards, I couldn't help but get on Twitter and read the buzz. What bugged me were the Tweets patting Grammy organizers on their collective backs for "always" including tributes to formidable musicians of the "past" including Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson and Whitney Houston.
If it was only true.
Cheering that Nelson -- who should be the star of every true awards show -- has finally been featured in a commercial seems to me the height of foolishness. And honoring the gravely ill Campbell and the deceased Houston? Sorry, but talk about too little too late. Let's not even get into Michael Jackson, the one-time national joke who is now revered but not enough for a mention (at least that I heard) on the Grammys.
Listen to "After It's Gone." It may have been written about Athens but applies to so much more.