Tuesday, December 29, 2009


(photo from Backstreets)  I'm not a huge fan of award shows (and firmly believe that there are way too many of them) but I am also a sucker for a well done tribute. So I can't believe that I've never watched The Kennedy Center Honors before tonight. Many of my favorite artists (musical and otherwise) have been honored, including The Who, Morgan Freeman, Martin Scorsese, Smokey Robinson, Elton John, James Brown, Loretta Lynn, Chuck Berry, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Pete Seeger, Paul Newman and Ray Charles, among others.

This year's event, honoring Robert DeNiro, Mel Brooks, jazz musican Dave Brubeck, opera singer Grace Bumbry and, of course, Bruce Springsteen, took place a few weeks ago, but aired tonight on CBS. The tributes were sincere, geniune, classy but not too stiff and deserved. Watching a montage of DeNiro's films was incredible, it really reminded you how great he is. I'm not as familiar with Mel Brooks' work, but I think I gotta rent some movies!  (I did love Young Frankenstein.) I also wasn't super familiar with Dave Brubeck, I gotta check him out also. And I'm not an opera fan at all, but I was blown away by Grace Bumbry's story: an African-American opera singer in the 1960s. Wow.

But the reason why I made sure I was parked in front of the screen tonight was Bruce. What a tribute: a hilarious and moving speech from Jon Stewart, and great performances by John Mellencamp, Ben Harper and Jennifer Nettles (from Sugarland), Melissa Etheridge and especially Eddie Vedder and also Sting. You can read a rundown of the show at Backstreets, as well as the essay that the great writer, E Street Radio host Dave Marsh wrote for the event program.

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