Backstage at the Grammys, in the exhibition hall adjoining the Shrine Auditorium, the only real shock of the evening came just minutes before the end: The record of the year win for Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do" brought a gasp in the press room, where Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" was considered a shoo-in, especially having already won four awards, including song of the year.
But Springsteen, making an unexpected appearance before the press, offered unqualified support for the victor.
"I love Sheryl's record," he said. "It's great songwriting and a great record."
As for Crow's thoughts on the win, they were left unsaid. She came backstage after winning best new artist, but didn't return to talk to the press after her final, bigger award.
The question on most minds was whether Springsteen would be working more with the E Street Band, which he reconvened for recent recordings. Three of the band members joined him to perform "Streets of Philadelphia," which opened the show. While Springsteen said nothing is planned in terms of more recording or a tour, he left the door open.
"I'd like to work with the band again," he said. "It was great to be with the guys."
"The anxiety is unbelievable," said Tony Bennett to the press midway through the telecast.
Apparently he was one of the few in the building who didn't believe he had a lock on the album of the year award for his "MTV Unplugged" recording.
He had already won the award for traditional pop recording, topping his own idol Frank Sinatra's "Duets." That was good enough for him.
"I'm happy with (this)," he said, calling his chosen style of classic pop "traditional American folk music . . . the best music on planet Earth."
After winning the big one, he reiterated his feelings that his music is timeless.
"They're great songs and will be around for 5,000 years," he said.
Will this recognition for his effort to reach out to the MTV generation start a trend among older pop performers and young fans alike?
"I hope that it does," he said. "I hope it opens a whole new fashion in the United States and (young people) will go dig up the great songs of Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald."
The Graying of the Grammys took center stage in the press room.
Soundgarden's singer Chris Cornell, after winning both the hard rock and metal awards but being shut out in the general category nominations, said, "It seems like from the nominations and winners that (the Grammys) are probably out of touch. It doesn't cover as broad a spectrum as it should."
But Andy Williams--who hosted many past Grammy telecasts--defended the process on the grounds that it does in fact cover a broad spectrum, and if that means younger or "harder-edged" styles get short shrift, tough.
"It's part of the duty of (the Grammys) to recognize all forms of music," he said. "It's a recognition of everyone who's done outstanding work in the year in all different fields."
The country/R&B; crossover of last year, with both twangy John Michael Montgomery and soulsters All-4-One having hits with "I Swear," may not have been a one-time thing. Both acts have again recorded the same song--another ballad, "I Can Love You Like That"--and will feature it on their upcoming albums.
All-4-One's Delious Kennedy said backstage that it really was a coincidence, not a marketing contrivance for the Atlantic Records labelmates.
"We both recorded it not knowing the other one had," he said. "We took our version to the record company president and he had Montgomery's version in his pocket. He listened to both and decided to release them."
Country/R&B; crossover was the topic concerning the two Grammy Awards earned from the "Rhythm, Country and Blues" album pairing soul singers and country stars--but here the discussion concerned the failure of country radio to embrace the project.
"I think the country fans would go for this music if they had a chance," said Trisha Yearwood, honored for best country vocal collaboration for her "I Fall to Pieces" duet with Aaron Neville, though she was at a loss to explain why radio programmers were reluctant to play the songs.
Al Green, who was also honored for best pop vocal collaboration for his "Funny How Time Slips Away" duet with Lyle Lovett from the same album, said, "It takes more and more work (to break down the barriers)."
It was Al Green who then gave perhaps the evening's strongest performance, but it was only heard by the press. When asked how contemporary R&B; holds up to the genre's earlier artists, Green donned his preacher's persona and exclaimed, "It's haaard to hold up to the Temptations! It's haaard to hold up to the Four Tops! It's haaard to hold up to the Stylistics," before launching into a medley of some of R&B;'s best numbers with his heavenly voice.