“I was wondering if it was seemly to tribute yourself,” said Sir Paul McCartney in the most quotable moment from last night’s prerecorded CBS special, “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America—A Grammy Salute.” Naturally, it was “a couple of American guys” who convinced him that awards-show-style indulgence was called for on the 50th anniversary of The Ed Sullivan Show bringing Beatlemania to these United States. But when Paul—and, let’s not forget, Ringo Starr—finally performed, they did it with such earnestness, good humor, and energy that all the self-congratulation seemed crowded out. The bummer was that the Yanks who covered Beatles songs in the two hours leading up to this casually historic finale missed a big fat opportunity to inject more tacky, over-the-top American spirit into the proceedings. The lusty screams of young women in cat-eye glasses seemed distant indeed.
Although we must recognize Adam Levine and John Mayer for bringing a louche, careless, cruise-ship vibe to “Ticket to Ride” and “Don’t Let Me Down,” respectively. Especially Mayer, who, with his appealing voice and hobo-stylist look, took his bittersweet selection to an irreverent climax, trading guitar faces with Keith Urban, his sleekly metrosexual partner. Honorable mentions go to Katy Perry, who gave “Yesterday” a literal representation in the form of her retro dress, with its yards and yards of flowery fabric (fashion scolds attacked this choice when they first spotted it on the red carpet); and the louchest of them all, Joe Walsh, who popped up in a couple places, wailing on his guitar and reminding everyone that rock excess endures even when it disdains mind expansion—and that this can be groovy, too. READ FULL STORY