Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ryan Bingham “The Weary Kind”

While I have some pretty mixed personal feelings about Award Shows (too much emphatic attention paid to something so trifling), professionally, I do feel some need to pay attention. I mean, my job as a DJ, is to live between the songs on the air, and provide some context, to make the radio listening experience a level above that of just listening to your iTunes list.

So I do make an effort to watch the Award Shows that have a music category featuring mvy-related artists. And this year’s Golden Globe nominees had a few favorite faces involved, including Paul McCartney and U2.

When I watch the shows, I’m watching them both as a fan, and as a professional.

As a fan, I was very happy to see young Ryan Bingham win the Golden Globe for Best Original Song. He is a great up-and-coming talent. The song was produced by T Bone Burnett, who’s work I love and respect enormously. And it features the underappreciated guitarist Stephen Bruton, who was dying of cancer as he worked on this song and the Soundtrack on which it appears.

But professionally, I felt a deep pain for my good friends at Lost Highway Records.

Lost Highway Records is a really wonderful label that features (mostly) Americana artists of the highest caliber---folks like Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams and Lyle Lovett, and even Van Morrison. All of whom are enormously talented, but also famously difficult, known for being either for being picky, particular or prickly.

And the folks at Lost Highway are fully aware of who they are working with. I’d had a bad experience (minor) with one of their artists and was relaying my dismay. Assuring me he understood how I felt, my label friend joked, “Believe me, no one hates our artists as much as we do.”

So Ryan Bingham’s name is called as the winner at the Golden Globes. This is exactly the kind of spontaneous “who’s that kid who bested Paul McCartney and Bono” TV moment that can catapult an artist to a whole new audience.

T Bone Burnett ambles to the stage, looking lost. He stalls. He says a few words. He looks into the lights.

No Ryan Bingham.

I don’t know if Ryan was in the bathroom, or smoking a cigarette, or running scared, but I know that he was not on that stage, and that millions and millions of people were not watching this young talent.

And my professional self thought of my poor friends at Lost Highway, who, I’m sure, had gone from a tremendous high to a crushing low, in a matter of seconds.

Opportunity, blown.

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