Greatness Beyond the Grammys

My whole family used to watch the Academy Awards every year when I was a kid, but I never watch the entertainment awards shows any more for the obvious reason: too self-indulgent even when they aren’t being annoyingly political, which is too much of the time.

So I was slow to hear about the sensation at the latest Grammy Awards of the Tracy Chapman-Luke Combs duet of Chapman’s 1988 hit “Fast Car.” It’s very very good, and carefully produced, but there seems to be a nearly metaphysical significance attached to it, as though it belongs to world-historical musical moments like Woodstock or the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Partly this may be on account of Tracy Chapman’s relative absence from the music scene for more than two decades.

So in fairness to musical excellence, let me offer a trio effort that easily matches up with Chapman-Combs, and deserves to be better known, with Trey Anastasio (of Phish fame) combining with Sarah Jarosz on Trey’s “If I Could.” It’s from 2019, appearing at Chris Thile’s underappreciated series “Live From Here” (a Minnesota production!). Bonus: the fiddle player in the background, Brittany Hass, is an acquaintance.

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