Backstage with Norah Jones at the Grammys -- Norah struggles to carry her five awards, Little Steven reacts to Bruce's loss, and more from Madison Square Garden

By Brian Hiatt
Updated February 24, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Norah Jones: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

In the end, it was a rising star — and not ”The Rising” — that dominated the 45th annual Grammys. Jazz/pop crooner Norah Jones’ five-for-five sweep, which included an upset win over Bruce Springsteen for Album of the Year, was the main event at Madison Square Garden Sunday night, both on stage and in the backstage hinterlands of the giant arena. But as celebs paraded offstage to meet the press, there was also time for some side shows, from Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel reflecting on their future to Dave Grohl cracking wise.

Jones could barely carry her five Grammys when she ventured backstage following her wins. After buckling under their weight for a minute or two, she finally handed some of the gleaming prizes over to a helper. ”Career-wise, this is probably the biggest thing I’ll ever do,” said Jones, whose giggly, endearingly dazed manner stood in bewildering contrast to her music’s sophistication. ”I don’t expect to ever put out another record like this.”

Jones had fully expected Springsteen to take the Album of the Year prize. ”He’s the Boss — I’m not taking that away from him. I didn’t expect this, nor did I need it,” she said. ”I was thinking, ‘What the heck is happening here?”’ As if to underscore her unfamiliarity with stardom’s ways, Jones said that she had no idea who designed her clingy black dress; in order to find out, she had a publicist peek at its tag. Jones also gave a refreshingly honest excuse for leaving the press room. ”I gotta pee,” she said.

After losing Album of the Year to Jones (and Song of the Year to Jones’ songwriter Jesse Harris), the newly mutton-chopped Springsteen chose not to come backstage. But E Street Band guitarist (and ”Sopranos” star) Steve Van Zandt did speak with as he waited for an elevator at the evening’s end. Was Bruce robbed? ”In a word, yeah,” Van Zandt said, with a shrug and a grin. ”But it’s all good. It’s one of those things where they were all good records, you know?”

For his part, Lifetime Achievement Award winner Paul Simon said he played no favorites in the various races. ”Who was I rooting for?” he said. ”I wasn’t rooting.” But the more pressing question was whether Simon and Art Garfunkel’s performance of ”The Sound of Silence” augured a more extensive reunion for the storied duo. ”It’s possible,” acknowledged Simon, who hadn’t performed with Garfunkel for 10 years. ”We don’t have any plans, but it’s possible, sure.”

Garfunkel was equally vague. ”Are we considering going on tour? We haven’t really dealt with that question yet,” he said, adding that the renewed pairing had been a positive experience so far. ”We ran down a tune or two, had laughs, and cozied up.” Simon and Garfunkel embraced onstage, but despite their professed coziness, kept a cautious distance from each other on the podium.

Meanwhile, Gen-Y’s singer/songwriter of choice, John Mayer, was all apple-cheeked self-deprecation backstage. The Best Male Pop Vocal Performance winner said that his success came ”fast enough to blow my mind, but not snap it in two.” Mayer added that he felt unworthy of his award. ”It’s like what teachers used to tell my mom in parent/teacher conferences: ‘John has so much potential, if only he’d apply himself.’ I’m wondering, as much as everyone else might be, as to whether I got lucky with this record.”

For his part, Dave Grohl found himself with some explaining to do after performing ”London Calling” with Springsteen, Van Zandt, and Elvis Costello. Backstage, Grohl was reminded that he had once quipped, ”If Bruce Springsteen is the boss, then I quit.” The usually loquacious Foo Fighters frontman blushed, stepped back from the microphone, put his finger to his lips, and whispered, ”Shhh.” Grohl then held up his Best Hard Rock Album prize and jokingly attempted to change the subject: ”Um, look, we got a Grammy!”