My Grammys: Weird Al, David Sedaris and More Remember the Big Night

Margaret Cho, Nate Ruess, Mastodon and Giorgio Moroder share stories from backstage

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David Sedaris
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David Sedaris

Three Nominations: Best Spoken Word Album (2005, 2009, 2014)

I never went to it. I never thought I would win and I thought it would be even worse to be there and not win. A book on tape not the kind of thing people even list when they're listing who won. I had to write my publisher two days after and say, "Whatever happened with that Grammy Award?" 

One year, I feel like I got a ballot from [the Grammys]. I don't understand why I got it, and it was just before the deadline. They invited me to vote on certain things. I don't remember if it was everything or just certain things. I thought it was just ridiculous because I listen to books on tape — I listen to them quite often — but there'd be no way in the amount of time they were giving me to listen to five books on tape and make a judgment on them. That's when I realized, "Oh, I don't think anyone listens to them."

It's a popularity contest. I think people just get the ballot and say, "Oh right, Nelson Mandela, I've heard of him." If it was a serious award, then they would have given [last year's award] to George Saunders' Tenth of December. Just for the writing and the delivery, that was perfection. I didn't even see it as a nominee. It's the sort of thing where you look at the nominees and think, "My book must be as shitty as theirs." If George Saunders isn't on the list, this is just bullshit. 

By [2005, the first year I was nominated,] I had figured it was a popularity contest, and I thought, "Oh, I won't win that." I wasn't really disappointed with the Grammys because I didn't think I was popular enough to win. Everybody knows who Bill Clinton is. Even if Toni Morrison read her own audiobook and if she was up against Amy Poehler, Amy Poehler would win. That's just how the Grammys go. It's the kind of thing where even if they said to me, "Look, we have spies, and you won. You definitely won." I think I would just send an Indian from India to pick it up for me.

I have a friend who was nominated for liner notes, and you don't even see stars at [the early ceremony]. It's just a really long, dull ceremony. To lose is one thing. To lose in all your finery is something else. And to lose in all your finery while the sun is shining is even worse. You come out of that level of the Grammy Awards and it's like lunchtime. My publisher offered to buy me a free business class flight to Los Angeles, and I didn't even take them up on it. . .When you don't win they send you a medallion the size of a coaster. It comes in a Tiffany box, and it's on a ribbon. One night I wore it to the dinner table. I thought, "What do you do with it?" It just gets in your plate, you know? It gets gravy on it, and then it gets gravy on your shirt.

I used to clean an apartment for somebody who had won Grammy Awards. I remember thinking, "These can't be the real Grammy Awards." In real life, they were so cheap looking and they weren't heavy like I expected them to be. Maybe if you win for best song or something it's different. When it's liner notes or music criticism, they just go with the cheaper versions.