THE LEFSETZ LETTER: McCartney At MusiCares

This is music’s greatest night. If they dropped a bomb on the L.A. Convention Center, they’d have to start all over, the entire infrastructure of the mainstream music business would be wiped out. And you might not think that’s a bad thing, but the old days are through, the labels no longer dominate, and it’s not only business people in attendance, but stars too.


Neil Young was eating with his bride at the next table over. Katy Perry sat down on my right with that giant flower on her head. Chris Martin came by to watch with her. Being labelmates, they’re family.


As for conversation, there just was not enough time. Whether it be with Rob Light in the auction room after a heart to heart with Jason Mraz or during the show by the bathroom with Rob Stringer, everywhere you turned there was someone you knew, in a good mood, the gloves are taken off for an evening.


Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

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Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.

And speaking of the bathroom… Before the show, that’s where I saw Hugh Hefner. He wasn’t walking that well and all I wanted to do was put my arm around him and say it’s okay to be old, that he could have stayed home in his pajamas and been grandpa and that would have been cool.


As for the music, McCartney BLEW EVERYBODY ELSE OFF THE STAGE!


After an introduction by the Cirque du Soleil acrobats, Paul and his band took the stage with a blistering rendition of "Magical Mystery Tour." This was like being jetted back to your high school bedroom, but having all of your dreams come true. It was mindbending, you couldn’t help but smile. These songs are in our DNA and he couldn’t have done it any better. We just weren’t prepared.


And then he played "Junior’s Farm."


I’m a fan. And it’s great to hear the hits, but when semi-obscure nuggets are revealed you feel that he’s playing just for you. And I think he was, since most people in attendance sat down. But it wasn’t as bad as it was during "1985." You know, the last track on "Band On The Run"! Well, turns out most people didn’t know. Paul’s banging the notes out on the piano and I’m in college, my whole life is scrolling by in my head, it’s the essence of rock and roll.


But almost everybody else… Wasn’t so good.


Duane Eddy did a killer take on "And I Love Her," Diana Krall revealed the subtleties in "For No One" and James Taylor needed no teleprompter for "Yesterday."


Yes, most of the acts were reading the lyrics, which made their performances somewhat perfunctory, the less said the better.


Except for Neil Young.


He took the stage with Crazy Horse. And did a turn on "I Saw Her Standing There" that took you right back to the basement, back in ‘64, after you bought "Meet The Beatles" and a guitar and began to play too. I bet there wasn’t a baby boomer in the room who didn’t have this experience. It was raucous, it was all about emotion, it garnered a standing ovation.


But once again, when Paul took the stage, he just blew everybody away.


Yes, he played some new material, and I’d love to tell you it killed, but…


But he did play the medley from the second side of "Abbey Road" and jammed with Joe Walsh and Dave Grohl at the end. He was having fun.


And fun is the one thing that money can’t buy.


And this was the best MusiCares ever. And when it was all done, Scott Rodger, Paul’s manager, took us backstage to see our friend Brian Ray, and that’s when the evening truly shined.


I thought everybody was gone.


But Brian was talking to Little Steven. We got into a discussion of Van Zandt taking his Sirius channels to China.


And Abe Laboriel, Jr., whose dad played with Felice’s father, was so nice, telling me what he was up to, that he not only had his own album to do, it was almost done.


And Scott told me how McCartney cold-called him. You think you have to work it, that’s the only way you’ll be recognized, if you dun people to death. But Stella called a friend, looking for help, who recommended Scott, and as they say, the rest is history. Hype rarely works in today’s market, it’s all about the work, and Scott’s working ’round the clock, that’s the nature of the music business.


Then I made a brief aside to Eddie Izzard about a mutual friend and it opened the door to a conversation. Wherein Eddie told me he wrote his speech at 4 a.m. the night before. That’s how you do it! You wait until the last minute, when the pressure’s on. If he delivered the standard tribute, no one would listen. So he came up with gobbledygook, did you know Castro wanted Wings to be called "Beaks"?


And after Sam introduced me to Diana Krall and Elvis Costello, we were on our way out, hours after the show ended, and who comes striding through the room but Paul and Nancy.


So we’re shaking hands and I tell him how much I loved hearing "Junior’s Farm" and how I told Abe that the hit single was live, how rare that was, and Paul corrected me, no that’s COMING UP!


Of course he was right.


But it was one in the morning and it was so long ago and he shouldn’t have even been listening to me, he should have just been pressing the flesh.


But the greats are on it all the time.


And there’s no one greater than Paul McCartney.

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