Los Angeles -- On the whole, Grammy would rather have been on the Streets of Philadelphia.
At least that's the way it seemed last night, when Bruce Springsteen's AIDS-inspired single, "Streets of Philadelphia," swept the 37th Annual Grammy Awards. Springsteen was up for four awards -- Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Original Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television -- and won all of them but Record of the Year, which went to Sheryl Crow for "All I Wanna Do."
"Stick around long enough, and they give these to you, I guess," he said, after receiving the Best Male Rock Vocal Grammy. "I won one of these years ago. They gave [my award] out in the afternoon, and I missed it. So they sent it to my mom, and she gave it to me, over the kitchen table."
Things were a little more formal this time around. Although he didn't go the formal route, opting for basic rock-and-roll black instead of a tuxedo, Springsteen was a very big part of the Grammy evening. He opened the show with a stirringly solemn rendition of "Streets of Philadelphia," from the Oscar-winning AIDS movie, "Philadelphia." And, he showed characteristic wit and humility in each of his trips to the stage.
Springsteen may have been the evening's biggest winner, but there were plenty of other multiple-Grammy winners on hand. In addition to Record of the Year, Crow took the Best New Artist award, as well as Best Female Pop Performance for "All I Wanna Do." Crow -- who performed "All I Wanna Do" early in the telecast, seemed genuinely stunned by her Best New Artist win. "I want to thank my family for doing the wave during my performance," she said. "It kind of took the pressure off . . ."
L Album of the Year went to Tony Bennett, for "MTV Unplugged."
Boyz II Men took the honors for Best R&B; Album, for "II," and Best R&B; Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "I'll Make Love to You." That song also earned Babyface the award for Best R&B; Song; the singer/songwriter also picked up a Grammy (in the Best Male R&B; Vocal category) for his hit, "When Can I See You."
On the local front, Marylander Mary Chapin Carpenter won twice, for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Album. In accepting the Country Album award, Carpenter brought up the issue of government support for the arts, and -- noting the current political climate -- lauded the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, which presents the Grammys, for its work in projects like promoting music education in the schools. "It's very important that we do what we do and speak out in behalf of the arts," she said.
Severn native Toni Braxton -- last year's Best New Artist -- picked up yet another award, winning out over 15-time Grammy winner Aretha Franklin in the Best Female R&B; Vocal category.
It was also quite an evening for classic rockers. The Rolling Stones, who went three decades without ever winning a Grammy (though they were given a Lifetime Achievement award in 1986), broke their losing streak by taking both the Best Rock Album and Best Short-Form Video awards.
Booker T. & the MG's also won their first Grammy, for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, with a version of the Smokey Robinson oldie, "Cruising." Speaking of non-vocal performances, Pink Floyd -- another group of Grammy virgins -- earned their first trophy courtesy of "Marooned," named the year's Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
Don Was was named Producer of the Year, and with good reason: Not only did he produce the Stones' album, but he was responsible for Bonnie Raitt's "Longing In Their Hearts," which was named Best Pop Album. "Longing" was also voted the Best Engineered Album, though that award went to engineer Ed Cherney.
Among the more surprising results was the extent to which "The Lion King" failed to rule the evening. Although Elton John won the Best Male Pop Vocal Grammy for "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," the only other Grammys that wound up in this "Lion" 's den were in such minor categories as Best Musical Album for Children and Best Spoken Word Album for Children.
On the whole, it was a surprisingly hip collection of Grammy winners. Green Day, the most popular punk band in America, took the Alternative Music honors for their multi-platinum album "Dookie"; Al Green and Lyle Lovett won in the Pop Vocal Collaboration category for their sly, soulful version of "Funny How Time Slips Away"; and the Aaron Neville/Trisha Yearwood rendition of "I Fall to Pieces" was voted Best Country Vocal Collaboration.
A large part of the fun in last night's fun had to do with how hard it was to go by appearances. The Rollins Band, for instance, turned up totally tuxed out -- where they found a dress shirt big enough to handle Henry Rollins' neck is anybody's guess -- to offer an amp-shredding run though "Liar."
Paul Reiser, who succeeded Gary Shandling as the Grammy MC, was neither roaringly funny nor groaningly bad.
The musical moments weren't much to write home about. Although Springsteen's show-opening performance was certainly stunning, similar moments were few and far between.
Still, the Grammy show has always been about what was on record, not what happens onstage, and considering who walked away with trophies, last night's ceremony was truly a winner.