1964 Briefly Revisited: AotY, part 2

Playlist(s) of music in this post: Spotify
If you only listen to one song: Autumn Serenade, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

A list of better albums

Imagine how awesome it would have been if these albums were the 1964 nominees.

  • Green Onions, Booker T. & the M.G.'s
  • All Alone, Frank Sinatra
  • The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan
  • Please Please Me, The Beatles
  • John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
I've seen the watchtower. It's pretty cool.

Disclosure time: I've never formed a solid connection with Bob Dylan's work.

All the same, it's hard to imagine a world in which I don't know Bob Dylan, which makes it hard to appreciate his importance to the progress of music. It's hard to pretend I haven't been to numerous open mics, with numerous musicians, who've performed numerous songs that sound like the songs on this album.

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan sounds pedestrian to me; honestly, now, it sort of is. One of the crueler rewards for having a sound that revolutionizes the musical world is that, once the dust settles, you no longer sound revolutionary.

In terms of production, this album is decidedly a step backward, which may have heightened its appeal. Consider that this slick sounding song by The Swingle Singers was on an album nominated for 1964's Album of the Year.

In contrast, it's easier to imagine the appeal of something more like this song by Bob Dylan.

Then again, it doesn't take a genius to say "Bob Dylan is better than The Swingle Singers", decades after that truth is apparent.

The Beatles

Disclosure time: I have a friend, her name is Jess, once upon a time I told her I thought The Beatles were overrated. The Beatles are great, and she deserves 100% of the credit for what Beatles fandom I have.

Please Please Me is a great album. This song is on that album and that album was not nominated for 1964's Album of the Year.

This song, however, is on an album that was.

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Long before I started this project, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman was one of my favorite albums in the world.

If you aren't already listening to it, check out Autumn Serenade.

Chances are decent that this album needs to be the soundtrack to something in your life.[1]

Grammys, do we need to talk? You okay??

I can understand if you're still ignoring rock and roll... not ready for The Beatles? Okay.

Booker T. & the M.G.'s Green Onion isn't such far a cry from Mancini or Ray Charles, both of whom picked up nominations... but maybe a bit too funky? Okay.

Snubbing Sinatra for The Swingle Singers and Andy Williams?

Ignoring John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, one of the best albums ever in the history of ever?

These nomination lists feel so atrociously bad, I'm actually curious to know if something else was going on in 1962 and 1963 that impacted the 1963 and 1964 awards.

I know that the Civil Rights Act of '64 and '65 are coming up... is there so much unrest in the country that nobody is making music?

Would the Grammys have faced some sort of political fallout for choosing some of these passed-over albums?

Was it muscle flexing? I can easily construct a narrative where the country is changing more rapidly than some people might like, and the old guard, in charge of the nomination process, asserts their authority by ignoring obviously-better-albums that represent the uncertain future, of which they are afraid, in favor of music that represents the past, with which they are more comfortable.[1:1]

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