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THE GRAMMY NOMINATIONS

Reverberation of 9/11 heard in voters' nods

January 08, 2003|Randy Lewis | Times Staff Writer

Sept. 11 had a profound impact on musicians and the music industry, which is reflected in several nominations for songs that dealt in serious ways with the tragedy.

Bruce Springsteen's album and song "The Rising" garnered five nods for the New Jersey rocker, while Alan Jackson's across-the-board hit "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" picked up a best song nomination for the Georgia singer-songwriter and three more in country categories.

The benefit album "America -- A Tribute to Heroes," from the Sept. 22, 2001, international telethon, spawned nominations for U2, for its inspirational song "Walk On," and for Stevie Wonder and Take 6 for their updated version of Wonder's "Love's in Need of Love Today."

Sept. 11 also inspired several songs on Steve Earle's "Jerusalem" album, nominated in the contemporary folk album category. It includes the controversial "John Walker's Blues," a sympathetic look at the American Muslim convert accused of collaborating with Al Qaeda.

The terror attacks were "a huge emotional rallying point for everybody [they] touched, so there was bound to be artistic fallout," said Howard Kramer, curatorial director for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. "Fortunately, a good part of that fallout was positive. A lot of people shied away from it because it was too deep a subject."

"I think the nominations say a lot about the music business," Kramer added. "The people who do the nominations and voting are definitely members of the music business, and they want to recognize great achievements. The business is not always about selling great art, but they do their best to recognize greatness now and then."

Still, voters didn't get swept away in Sept. 11 mania.

Neil Young was conspicuous in his absence: Neither his rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine," one of the highlights of the "Tribute to Heroes" show, nor his Sept. 11-themed "Let's Roll" received nominations. Dolly Parton's faith-questioning "Hello God" was likewise overlooked.

Grammy voters also ignored jingoistic songs. Notably absent was Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," a No. 1 country hit for the Oklahoman last summer.

Less surprising was that neither Charlie Daniels' "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag" nor Ray Stevens' more lighthearted "Osama, Yo' Mama" caught voters' attention.

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