Grammy Award nominations were announced this morning, and Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars was not among the Album of the Year nominees. No Western Stars song was nominated for Song or Record of the Year, either.
Springsteen, in fact, did not receive any Grammy nominations, despite releasing two albums — Springsteen on Broadway, in addition to Western Stars — in the appropriate time span. (Any music released from Oct. 1, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2019 was eligible.)
The complete list of nominees is here. The ceremony will take place Jan. 26 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
It may seem on the surface that Bruce Springsteen has been treated well by The Grammys, over the years. He has won 20 of them, after all, with 50 nominations.
But a closer look casts some doubt on that assessment.
Springsteen has never won Album of the Year, which is the most important Grammy, akin to the Oscar for Best Picture. He’s had two nominations in this category, for Born in the USA and The Rising, but these albums lost to Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down and Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me, respectively.
Furthermore, he has won only one “major Grammy” — an unofficial designation for the four categories open to artists of all genres, those being Album, Record (i.e., a recording of a single song), Song (i.e., songwriting of a single song) and New Artist. “Streets of Philadelphia” was named Best Song in 1995.
Of course, many worthy artists have received far shabbier treatment. But still, it’s no exaggeration to say that Springsteen has been the most important American rock artist of the last 50 years. Is one major Grammy really sufficient recognition?
The Grammys took a long time even to notice Springsteen, ignoring him until 1981, when his “Devil With the Blue Dress” medley (from the No Nukes album) lost in the Male Rock Vocal category lost to Billy Joel’s Glass Houses album (the category was open to both songs and albums). Springsteen’s first win came in 1985, when “Dancing in the Dark” beat out songs by David Bowie, Elton John, Billy Idol and John Cougar Mellencamp in the same category.
Strangely, while much of Springsteen’s most important work has not won Grammys, some fairly obscure recordings, including his “Once Upon a Time in the West” (from the all-star We All Love Ennio Morricone tribute album), have.
Here is a list of Springsteen’s Grammy wins. It is, again, not insignificant. But is it really enough? Please let me know what you think in the Comments section, below.
1985: Male Rock Vocal, for “Dancing in the Dark”
1988: Solo Rock Vocal, for “Tunnel of Love”
1995: Song of the Year, Rock Song, Male Rock Vocal and Song Written for a Motion Picture or Television, for “Streets of Philadelphia.”
1997: Contemporary Folk Album, for The Ghost of Tom Joad
2003: Rock Album, for The Rising; Rock Song and Male Rock Vocal, for “The Rising”
2004: Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, for “Disorder in the House” (recorded with Warren Zevon)
2005: Solo Rock Vocal, for “Code of Silence”
2006: Solo Rock Vocal, for “Devils & Dust”
2007: Traditional Folk Album, for We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions; Long Form Music Video, for “Wings for Wheels: The Making of Born to Run”
2008: Rock Song and Solo Rock Vocal, for “Radio Nowhere”; Rock Instrumental for “Once Upon a Time in the West”
2009: Rock Song, for “Girls in Their Summer Clothes”
2010: Solo Rock Vocal, for “Working on a Dream”
Click here for a collection of video clips of Springsteen at Grammy Awards ceremonies, through the years.
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