I was surprised when my coworker Eileen mentioned the above Onion article to me this morning. because for the last week or so I've been planning to use last night's Grammy telecast as an excuse to talk about the 1978 Grammys, which is when Rumours won Album of the Year. For reasons that escape me, I have a really clear memory of watching the Grammys that year. Specifically, I remember being disappointed when Hotel California lost the Album of the Year award to Rumours.
In retrospect, of course, Hotel California didn't deserve to win; looking back at the nominees that year, I'd say it was no better than third best. (The other three nominees were Aja by Steely Dan, JT by James Taylor, and the Star Wars soundtrack. I'd definitely rank Aja above Hotel California, and maybe JT too.) At the time, though, I wanted it to win because I loved the song "Hotel California," and I don't think I understood the difference between the song and the album. If the Fleetwood Mac album had been called Go Your Own Way or Don't Stop, I might have been more conflicted about the category, but Rumours meant nothing to me.
Speaking of "Go Your Own Way" and "Don't Stop," I was surprised when I researched the 20th Annual Grammy Awards that neither, nor any other song from Rumours, was nominated for Record of the Year or Song of the Year. In fact, with the exception of "Hotel California," the Song and Record of the Year nominees that year were mostly pretty darn lame. The Song nominees were "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)" and "You Light Up My Life," which tied, plus "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," "Hotel California," "Nobody Does It Better," and "Southern Nights." The first four were also nominated for Record of the Year, along with "Blue Bayou." I remember being pretty fond of "Sothern Nights," but the others, not so much.
Looking over the list of other winners from the 20th Grammys, I see it was, as usual for the Grammys, kind of a mixed bag. It's hard to argue, for example, with Thelma Houston winning Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for "Don't Leave Me This Way," or the original Broadway cast recording of Annie winning Best Cast Show Album. On the other hand, you've got Debby Boone winning Best New Artist over Foreigner, and Leo Sayer's "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" winning Best Rhythm & Blues Song over, well, four actual R&B songs, notably the aforementioned Thelma Houston song and "Brick House" by The Commodores.
I also noticed there was one person who won a Grammy that year who also won a Grammy last night: Steve Martin. In 1978, he won Best Comedy Recording for his album Let's Get Small; this year, he won Best Americana Song for writing (with Edie Brickell) "Love Has Come For You." Martin has now won more Grammys as a musician than as a comedian, which I think the 1978 me would have found highly unlikely had I been told that would someday be the case.