Tag Archives: Best American Roots Song

The Grammys 2023: Best American Roots Song

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Once again, I hadn’t heard any of the songs in this category before yesterday.

“Bright Star,” performed by Anaïs Mitchell; Anaïs Mitchell, songwriter:

“Forever,” performed by Sheryl Crow; Sheryl Crow and Jeff Trott, songwriters:

“High and Lonesome,” performed by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss; T Bone Burnett and Robert Plant, songwriters:

“Just Like That,” performed by Bonnie Raitt; Bonnie Raitt, songwriter:

“Prodigal Daughter,” performed by Aoife O’Donovan and Allison Russell; Tim O’Brien and Aoife O’Donovan, songwriters:

“You and Me on the Rock,” performed by Brandi Carlile (featuring Lucius); Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth and Time Hanseroth, songwriters:

Wow. Is it just me, or is it tough picking a favorite in this category? “Forever” is a good song. “Just Like That” just about undid me. What a powerful message. And “You and Me on the Rock” is adorable.

But “Prodigal Daughter” delighted me. O’Donovan’s gentle guitar picking is such a perfect accompaniment.

I first became aware of Aoife O’Donovan a decade ago, through this song from the Goat Rodeo Sessions (which also launched my obsession with Chris Thile, if you want to go down that rabbit hole, and yes, that is Yo Yo Ma rocking out on the cello):

Now it’s your turn. Which song gets your vote for Best American Roots song, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Looking Forward to the Grammys, Part XI

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Today we are listening to the nominees for Best American Roots Song.

Avalon, performed by Riannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi; written by Rhiannon Giddens, Justin Robinson, and Francesco Turrisi:

Bored, performed by Linda Chorney featuring Becca Byram, EJ Ouellette, and Trevor Sewellzz; written by Linda Chorney:

Call Me a Fool, performed by Valerie June featuring Carla Thomas; written by Valerie June:

Cry, performed by Jon Batiste (I didn’t know he could play bass guitar!), written by Jon Batiste and Steve McEwan:

Diamond Studded Shoes, performed by Yola; written by Dan Auerbach, Natalie Hemby, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and Yola:

Nightflyer, performed by Allison Russell; written by Jeremy Lindsay and Allison Russell:

I had to look up what “American Roots” means. I was kind of thinking of American folk music, but the category is actually broader than that. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences established this award in 2015 to recognize quality songs in genres such as blues, bluegrass, folk, Americana, and regional roots music. I can see how each of the nominated songs fits in. Which one deserves the award?

I love Rhiannon Giddens, but I really had to listen to Avalon a few times without watching the video. As much as I like the dancing, it distracts me from the music.

I started out being bored by Bored, but after more listenings I like it better.

Valerie June’s voice in Call Me a Fool is so harsh that I find it unpleasant.

Listening to Diamond Studded Shoes and Nightflyer without looking at the videos improved them greatly for me.

But I was very surprised that Cry, which I did not like on first hearing, grew on me in subsequent hearings to a degree that the other songs did not. I don’t usually like motifs that are repeated over and over, but in this song, they’re haunting. I think it was Batiste’s mournful voice that got to me. Cry is my choice for the award.

Now it’s your time. Which song do think deserves the award for Best American Roots Song, and why? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Have you read the other parts of this series? Part I: Best Music VideoPart II: Song of the YearPart III: Best Global Music PerformancePart IV: Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/ SongPart V: Best Dance/ Electronic PerformancePart VI: Best Rock SongPart VII: Best Country SongPart VIII: Best Traditional R&B PerformancePart IX: Best Improvised Jazz Solo, and Part X: Best Gospel Performance/ Song.