Amid a night of stellar performances packed with meaning and emotion country singer/songwriter Chris Stapleton — who took home best country album earlier in the evening for From A Room: Volume 1 — teamed with 13-time winner Emmylou Harris at Sunday night’s (Jan. 28) 2018 Grammy Awards to pay moving tribute to one of the great voices the music industry lost this year: Tom Petty.
The two country rule-breakers collaborated for a take on the classic title track to Petty’s 1994 solo album, a gentle meditation on not being afraid to let go of the thing you love the most. “You belong among the wildflowers/ You belong in a boat out a sea,” the two sang while strumming acoustic guitars, their voices mixing Harris’ high, clear tone with Stapleton’s low rumble. As images of flowers filled the screens behind them the pair brought a lonesome twang to the strummy original, which features the indelible refrain “you belong somewhere you feel free.”
Petty suffered cardiac arrest and died on Oct. 2 at age 66 of an accidental overdose of medications. The reverent performance segued into the In Memoriam segment, which opened with an image of the sandy-haired Petty mid-guitar strum and also included tributes to Steely Dan’s Walter Becker, the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie, soul singer Charles Bradley and the Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan.