Totally Boss-some

Asbury Park Press, 1995-03-01, by: Eric Deggan
His 4 Grammys top field; 3 for Crow
JUDGING by the look on his face as he prepared to accept the first Grammy award of the evening, Bruce Springsteen was about the only person in the room who wasn't expecting to hear his name when the Song of the Year winner was called.

It was a good omen for the Freehold-born superstar, who already had racked up two pre- telecast Grammys and electrified the crowd with the first performance of the evening -- a stark rendering of his quintuple-nominated hit, ""Streets of Philadelphia,'' backed by E Street Band members Garry Tallent, Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan.

By the night's end, Springsteen would walk home with the most trophies from last night's 37th annual Grammy Awards -- four in all - including honors for Best Rock Song, Best Song From a Motion Picture or Television Show and Best Male Rock Vocal.

""I'm not even sure this is a rock vocal,'' the tousle-haired singer/songwriter quipped about the song, from the 1993 movie ""Philadelphia,'' about an attorney with AIDS. ""You stick around long enough and they give these things to you, I guess,'' he added while accepting the male rock vocal honor. ""I actually won this a few years ago... they gave it out during the day and I missed it. They sent it to my mom (and) she presented it to me over the kitchen table.''

Singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow and her hit single ""All I Wanna Do'' snagged the runner-up slot, garnering three awards -- including Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal and Record of the Year. ""I want to thank my family for doing the wave during my performance... it kind of took the pressure off,'' said a breathless Crow while accepting the Best New Artist trophy. ""I'm so nervous.''

Besides Springsteen and Crow, big winners included producer Babyface (who saw hits he crafted for himself, diva Toni Braxton and vocal quartet Boyz II Men dominate all five R&B categories) and 68-year-old crooner Tony Bennett, whose ""MTV Unplugged'' album won Traditional Pop Vocal Performance and Album of the Year honors. ""This is the greatest night of my entire musical career,'' said Bennett, whose classic jazz/pop sound became a hit with the twentysomething generation through the record. ""I really don't believe it.''

New Jersey folks in the winners circle also included Newark native Queen Latifah, who earned a Grammy in the Rap Solo Performance category for her single ""U.N.I.T.Y.'' and Princeton native Mary Chapin Carpenter, who won honors for best country album and country vocal performance. ""I'm happy to be a musician,'' Carpenter said, ""especially in this time when the arts are being cut in so many ways.''

Last night's show featured a number of widely anticipated performances, including a duet between Bennett and k.d. lang, a vocal jam with members of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Luther Vandross and a frenzied turn by tuxedo-clad, barefoot punk pioneer Henry Rollins.

Springsteen's triumph followed a longstanding Grammy pattern of rewarding long-respected artists after ignoring some of their most legendary work. Given only two awards for the 20-plus years of hits he'd notched up until then, Springsteen tripled his tally last night. ""I'd like to thank those disparaged . . . Grammy voters,'' he said upon accepting the Song of the Year trophy. ""And thanks to the folks who have come up to me on the street and in restaurants, who lost someone to AIDS, for saying the song meant something to them.''

Still, it wouldn't be the Grammys without a few embarrassments, and last night's biggest on- air gaffe came in the heavy metal category -- where the 1988 award presentation to Jethro Tull drew snickers in its first year. This time, it was Seattle modern rockers Soundgarden's award for Best Metal Performance that rankled band members who consider the group anything but heavy metal (they also won Best Hard Rock Performance honors). ""We're not going to leave the stage until you tell us we're heavy metal,'' cracked Soundgarden lead vocalist Chris Cornell while accepting the award. ""I want to thank my mom, who's probably more excited about this award than I am,'' added lead guitarist Kim Thayil, who also continued U2 vocalist Bono's Grammy tradition from last year -- offering an uncensored expletive to compliment Rollins' performance.

Wins by English blues disciple Eric Clapton for Best Traditional Blues Performance and Salt- N-Pepa (whose Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group win beat out critical favorites like Warren G and Nate Dogg and Heavy D and the Boyz) were also likely to raise a few eyebrows. North Jersey residents Salt-N-Pepa also offered the most entertaining acceptance speech of the night, running up to the wrong podium to accept their award -- earned for the song ""None of Your Business.'' ""We waited so long for this . . . we've been down for ten years,'' gushed Salt (a.k.a. Cheryl James). ""We just want to thank our fans . . . you kept us here.''

Conspicuous by their absence were a few of the more cutting-edge modern rock acts nominated for awards, including punk popsters Green Day, who nevertheless won a Grammy for Alternative Music Performance.

Presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the three-hour Grammy Awards show was telecast last night from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles to an estimated 1 billion viewers worldwide on CBS-TV. Comedian Paul Reiser served as host of the marathon event, dropping quips that sounded like jokes, but somehow weren't all that funny. A sample: ""I really hope that Prince doesn't decide to change him name again... then he'll be known as the artist formerly known as that thing we couldn't pronounce in the first place.''