Ben Harper and Tim McGraw Talk GRAMMY MusiCares Springsteen Tribute

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Last night (February 8) in Los Angeles, Bruce Springsteen was the subject of an all-star tribute at the GRAMMY MusiCares Person Of The Year ceremony.  Artists from all genres and generations stepped up to the mic to pay tribute, choosing songs from all phases of the New Jersey legend’s career.  Some of the highlights included Best New Artist GRAMMY nominee Alabama Shakes performing “Adam Raised A Cain,” Patti Smith singing her classic that she co-wrote with Springsteen, “Because The Night,” Ben Harper, Charlie Musselwhite and Dixie Chick Natalie Maines’ take on “Atlantic City,” Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s spin on “Tougher Than The Rest,” Elton John’s “Streets Of Philadelphia” and Sting’s “Lonesome Day.” Read a full review of the show at GRAMMY.com.

Tim McGraw spoke to Radio.com about performing “Tougher Than The Rest” with his wife: “It’s a song that’s special to us, and we’ve seen Bruce and Patti do it before, and it just seems like a perfect song to do.” He says that although Springsteen is classified as “rock,” he’s incredibly influential on country music: “Springsteen really had a big influence on me. He’s certainly somebody that every country artist I know looks up to.”

Ben Harper also spoke to Radio.com about Springsteen, whose influence seems stronger today than at any other point in his career: some of the younger artists on the bill at the MusiCares event included Jim James of My Morning Jacket, multiple GRAMMY nominees Mumford & Sons, John Legend, Albama Shakes and Zac Brown.  Harper says that that’s not because of anything Springsteen has consciously done: “Well, I find that usually when there’s shifts in and around musicians lives, it’s not because the musicians themselves have changed. It’s because people have gotten hip, people have gotten smart. (It’s) timing. First and foremost you can’t pick your fans.  Second, I haven’t met any artist that I admire that hasn’t set their own coursse. And when you do that, everything has a way of falling into place.” 

While Harper played “Atlantic City,” he could have easily chosen “My Father’s House” from the same album, 1982’s Nebraska. He performed that song at a different tribute to Springsteen, at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors.  He says, “That song spoke to me in such a way… that song is my life.” 

The GRAMMY MusiCares Person Of The Year Award is not broadcast on television, nor is it webcast.  Some shows have been released on DVD (including tributes to Neil Young, Brian Wilson, Barbra Streisand and James Taylor), but many others have not (including – as of yet – the tributes to Paul McCartney, Sting, Don Henley and Bono). 

Watch the GRAMMYs Sunday night on CBS at 8 pm ET. Springsteen himself has three nominations: he’s up for awards in Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Album. 

Brian Ives and Kurt D. Wolff, Radio.com 
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