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THE 38TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS | Backstage

The Scene . . . and the Unseen

Big winner Alanis Morissette and empty-handed Joan Osborne both clam up after it's over, but everyone else had something to say.

February 29, 1996|STEVE HOCHMAN and CHUCK CRISAFULLI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The night's biggest winner was also the shyest. Alanis Morissette declined to address the backstage press after the show, leaving it to her producer and co-writer, Glen Ballard, to field questions for her.

"She's overwhelmed," he said, explaining her absence. "But she's so pleased that what we created together has found a resonance out there. The reaction has been so positive."

If she's overwhelmed now, what does that bode for the daunting prospect of following up her acclaimed breakthrough work?

"She's not daunted at all," Ballard said. "Of all the people I've worked with, she's the least likely to be daunted."

Discussing the backlash already occurring against Morissette, with some critics dismissing the album's in-your-face tone as contrived and dismissing the singer as a producer's puppet, he said: "It was the least contrived thing I've ever worked on. I have read these stupid stories that we concocted the angry persona. It's not true. People focus on 'You Oughta Know,' but there's the gamut of emotions on the album."

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Joan Osborne, who was shut out after being nominated in several major categories, also declined to meet the press, with no word passed on about her reactions to the results.

The second-biggest winner, Seal, admitted that he could shed little light on the meaning of his song "Kiss From a Rose."

"I don't know," said the gracious, gentle-speaking Englishman. "I really have no idea. But I don't know what half my songs are about. When we first put the album together, 'Rose' stood out not as a great song, but as a sore thumb. I wasn't proud of it at first, but in retrospect I'm very glad it made it to the album."

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Despite Hootie & the Blowfish's 8-million-plus album sales, the new artist winner's four members are still not household names--even many members of the press corps know only lead singer Darius Rucker and had to ask the names of the others.

"Doesn't bother me," said guitarist Mark Bryan. "After all that's happened good for us, how could something that minimal bother me?"

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Coolio, whose song "Gangsta's Paradise" speaks of peace and harmony, took a more confrontational tone on stage by stating that a "revolution is coming" and wearing blue bandanna colors associated with the Crips gang. Backstage, the rapper explained that this should not be taken as a declaration of war.

"I'm talking about the spiritual revolution, one where people forget about color," he said. "One day the have-nots may rise up. I may be a have by then, but I'll still be down with the have-nots."

As for the Crips colors, he said, "It's a suit. We had a red suit made for someone to wear too, but it wasn't done in time. It's kind of a statement. It's just a color . . . colors don't really matter. They are what people make of them. I'm not worried that people will take it the wrong way."

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Joni Mitchell, on stage during the pre-telecast, upon winning her first Grammy since 1974, not for her music, but for her album cover design (she later also won for pop album): "I was contemplating quitting music and just going into painting, and I think I might now," she said with a laugh.

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Actually, the biggest winner may have been the Canadian music scene, with Mitchell, Morissette and country's Shania Twain winning seven Grammys between them.

"Talent springs up in irregular patterns," said Mitchell, who was named as a major influence by numerous other winners, most effusively Seal.

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Having picked up two new Grammys for male R&B vocal and R&B song, in addition to a Lifetime Achievement Award, Stevie Wonder said he was pleased to be straddling musical generations. "I feel like a child, and I feel like an older man. I'm very happy."

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The biggest unfounded rumor proved to be an appearance of the three surviving Beatles to present a lifetime achievement award to producer George Martin and possibly perform to close the show. But a recording academy spokeswoman said it likely would have happened had Martin not had to cancel his appearance because of his wife's illness.

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CeCe Winans, winner for contemporary gospel, asked about the controversy surrounding Joan Osborne's "One of Us," which some have called blasphemous for musing about God as a regular person: "It sounds like it's positive, but I haven't really heard it and didn't understand the meaning of it."

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Cesar Rosas accepted an award for Los Lobos, which won in the pop instrumental category for "Mariachi Suite" from the "Desperado" soundtrack. But Rosas had another awards show on his mind. Another Lobos song from the movie was initially rejected by an Academy Awards committee for not being "intelligible" because it's in Spanish. (The song was later accepted for consideration, but did not get nominated.) "I was so hurt that my song was sort of canned because it was [un]intelligible. I had to look that up. . . . I thought it was unfortunate. This is the Oscars! This is Los Angeles and it's bilingual."

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