Hey, Foos - You Do NOT Want To Fight Vince Gill!

Mean mugging, Norman, Okla.-style! (Actually, he's fighting back tears after watching West Virginia wax the Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl.)

Vince Gill knows from Grammy. The guitar-slinging country singer has won 18 of the awards during his career, placing him among the Top 10 all-time winners. And this year, he's up for two more - including the big daddy: Album of the year.

Though he's been nominated something like 40 times, this is actually Gill's first bid for a general-category (read: non-country) Grammy. Which might explain why it didn't quite register when his name was called during the Recording Academy presser to announce the nominees ... even though Gill was in SoCal that morning to read the names in some of the other categories.

"What's funny is that I didn't know they were reading the general category," Gill tells Post Rock. "They said 'album of the year' and then my name and I just smiled.

"Then they said, 'Kanye West.' And I went: 'HUH?'

"And Foo Fighters? They're not country! It was such a big shock."

Gill was a surprise nominee for his four-disc genre-spanning set, "These Days." Great, critically acclaimed collection that's been certified platinum; but very little album-of-the-year buzz. And country is often overlooked in the category. ("I think there's going to be so many people who see that nomination and don't have a clue who I am," says Gill - who, by the way, was just inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame last year.)

"These Days" is up against another candidate that none of the Grammy prognosticators had, um, prognosticated: Herbie Hancock, for his Joni Mitchell tribute, "River: The Joni Letters." Also in the running: Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black," Kanye's "Graduation" and "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace" by the Foo Fighters.

Two of the Foos - Taylor Hawkins and Virginia dude Dave Grohl - were also at the announcement presser and gave Gill the stink eye after their names were read. Then Grohl said something about taking it outside. Rock and roll!

Obvious question: Vince, you think you could take Dave Grohl?

"I think I'd take all four of them guys at the same time," he says. "I'm a big ol' boy. Those skinny rockers all weigh about 100 pounds a piece." He laughs a most dismissive laugh. "I really enjoyed those guys. I liked their irreverence and sense of humor. I have a pretty warped sense of humor myself, and we were cracking jokes before we got up there. And they just continued."

(Read more after the jump.)

If Gill wins the big award (he's also up for best country album), maybe he'll bring a bunch of the guests from "These Days" onto the Staples Center stage! It's a looooooooong list - and a heavily decorated one, too: Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow have 50 Grammys between them. There are other Grammy faves, too, from Trisha Yearwood, Diana Krall and Michael McDonald to Dan Tyminski and Gill's wife, Amy Grant, herself a six-time winner. Strength in numbers could be good, Gill says, "because I'm afraid Kanye's gonna yell at me or something. He's been know to get a little irritable if he don't win." More laughter.

Get the feeling that Gill will just be happy to be there? Surely you'll see that during the Feb. 10 telecast, when his smiling mug is shown on the broadcast. But you won't actually see him perform: Gill says he turned down Grammy producer-director Walter C. Miller's invitation to play during the show. Didn't want to play a mere fraction of a song, he says.

"What they proposed was something that didn't really sound appealing to me. They asked me to perform a minute of a song of mine and then have Brad Paisley to do a minute of a song of his. But it didn't seem like the right thing to do. To try to sandwich two artists in whatever genre it is into one slot and have everybody do a minute of their song - I think you get an incomplete performance that doesn't have much impact. It just never reeks of great creativity to me."

He adds: "I feel sorry for Walter Miller. With the CMAs (Country Music Awards), it's so easy to figure out who gets up there. But for the Grammys, they're trying to put together a great TV show with every genre represented and everything."

In lieu of a Grammy-night performance from Gill, how about this video of him tearing it up in concert? The sound quality isn't the greatest (and neither, for that matter, is the video quality); but you'll get the point - that being that he knows his way around a guitar.

By J. Freedom du Lac |  January 29, 2008; 8:50 AM ET Awards Shows
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If Vince gets the win, it will prove that the Grammys have at least a shadow of integrity about them. He's one of the best musicians in the past couple of decades, period, but outside of Nashville, he's just that guy that married Amy Grant. By the way, Vince is no slouch on the mandolin, either...I saw him at the Ryman in Nashville doing a bluegrass show and it was awesome.

Posted by: 23112 | January 29, 2008 9:32 AM

If Vince Gill does not win Album of Year then the Academy is wearing blinders and/or ear plugs. I have 3 sets of his album (These Days). One at home, one in my car, and one at work!!! It's the best 4 CD set I have ever heard! And the article is right...he is one of the best musicians out there. I don't think there is a stringed instrument the man can not play. Did any of these other so called artist write, sing, play instruments, and produce their own albums? I think NOT! He deserves to win in my book.

Posted by: joyce spicer | January 31, 2008 4:23 PM

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