If it’s the annual anniversary of the Beatles appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” it must be time to break out Ye Olde Screed about what transpired 50 years after that epochal moment in history. This piece was written in the post-mortem morning, after the Grammy Award-giving people booked a bunch of glitzy guests to ostensibly pay reverential tribute to the group — but whose own music, individually and collectively, had no traces whatsoever of the lasting influence or musical impact left by the Fab Four (exceptions to this rule were Stevie Wonder and Annie Lennox, both of whom were splendid in their own right). Meanwhile, the sidebar to the whole affair that grabbed center stage (as a subject of both the show and my subsequent essay) was an inevitable appearance by that photo/stage-bombing Zelig of Rock, ex-Nirvana drummer-turned Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, who comported himself with a space-hogging zest designed to show us, once and for all, that there was something way more powerful, even, than a prodigiously gifted group of musicians or a once-in-a-lifetime musical phenomenon: a really well-connected ex-grungester with unlimited access and zero boundaries.
It’s not that I was surprised, exactly. Disappointed and annoyed is more like it. I knew that a big, gaudy CBS/Grammy salute to the Beatles celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s triumphant U.S. debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” (on CBS, of course) was bound to be a bit self-serving and showbiz-y. Still, I expected something more. Something better. This is the Beatles we’re talking about, after all. But alas, I should have known better, as somebody once sang.
So what was the low point in Sunday night’s broadcast of the promisingly titled, yet ultimately deflating and depressing “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A Grammy Salute”?” Keith Urban and his strategically arranged, fastidiously mussed hair dueting with droop-drawered hacky sacker John Mayer on “Don’t Let Me Down” (which they did)? Ah yes, the Urban Cowboy teamed with the great style shape-shifter Mayer: He of college mixer affect and clichéd blues “O” face, working
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