Don’t you hate it when you look forward to something with great expectations, only to end up supremely disappointed?
As a life-long Red Sox fan I have lived through more than my share of “April hope and October heartbreak” seasons.
The Star Wars prequel movies (for me) failed to meet the hype, along with countless Super Bowls.
And then there was MTV. Video truly did kill the radio star.
But perhaps one of the biggest let downs I can remember has got to be The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
To say I was excited when the announcement came in 1993 about the construction of The Hall would be a huge understatement. They hadn’t even broken ground yet and I was already looking forward to visiting.
The inductees in the years leading up to the construction of the Hall were, let’s face it, predictable. Every R&R staple from Chuck Berry to The Beatles to Van Morrison was a member, and rightfully so. Nobody could be disappointed about such legends being enshrined, even if only on paper.
This tradition continued for the first five years after the hall opened, and there were very few surprises.
It wasn’t until the class of 2001 was announced that I began to question the decisions of those in charge of selections. Don’t get me wrong…Aerosmith, Paul Simon and Steely Dan were no-brainers.
But Michael Jackson???
I know the king of pop has a ton of fans out there, and most of them probably think I should just shut up and go home, but I’m sorry…Michael Jackson?
It’s the “Rock and Roll” Hall of Fame…not the “Catchy Pop Tunes for 12 Year Old Girls to Dance To” Hall of Fame.
For the record, I am not – in any way, saying that Michael didn’t make good music…there are a few of his songs that get my toe tapping. However – it is not the stuff of legend nor is it rock and roll.
Subsequent inductees added to my bewilderment…Madonna, ABBA, The Beastie Boys, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton…How are any of these people inducted before the likes of Jethro Tull, The J. Geils Band, Mott the Hoople, The New York Dolls and Warren Zevon???
The answer is obvious, (well, at least to me) they (the people who make the decisions at the hall) know that they have to appeal to the post-MTV generations. They know that that the number of classic, relevant, legitimate rock and roll legends worthy of induction is dwindling rapidly and they know that there are more people who recognize the names Madonna and Whitney than those who remember Mott and Jethro.
So, they’ve done the only thing they could think of…they’ve gradually shifted the requirements for eligibility from a performer’s contribution to rock and roll to their mainstream popularity.
Which brings us to this year’s nominees…
Eligible for induction in 2023 are:
- Kate Bush
- Sheryl Crow
- Missy Elliott
- Iron Maiden
- Joy Division/New Order
- Cyndi Lauper
- George Michael
- Willie Nelson
- Rage Against the Machine
- The Spinners
- A Tribe Called Quest
- The White Stripes
- Warren Zevon
I know I’m going to alienate people, but right off the bat – Missy Elliot, George Michael and Willie Nelson should be eliminated based on the fact that their music is not rock and roll.
Also undeserving are Kate Bush (let’s face it – she has one song and it just won’t go away), Iron Maiden, Joy Division/New Order, Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, A Tribe Called Quest and The White Stripes – based on the fact that they just aren’t that great.
The Hall of Fame should be filled with game-changers. Legends. The ones whose absence would leave a void in the rock and roll landscape.
That leaves us with Sheryl Crow, Cyndi Lauper, The Spinners, and Warren Zevon.
Of those nominees, if I were on the selection committee, Warren Zevon is the only one I’d vote for. Maybe Sheryl Crow. I’d be on the fence about The Spinners too. Cyndi Lauper had a couple of catchy tunes, but she was largely a product of MTV, so I’m sorry…maybe next year.
Before you leave a comment telling me that I sound like a cranky old boomer, save it. I already know this. I don’t deny that my opinion of rock began dwindling in the 90s, and in the last ten or fifteen years there has been very little to get excited about.
I guess when you grow up in an atmosphere that produced the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc – where it seemed that there was no such thing as a bad band – you get a little spoiled.
I won’t apologize for being raised on a diet of steak and potatoes – then complaining when they try to serve me a big mac and fries.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should be an exclusive night club with a velvet rope and a huge bouncer at the door. Instead it’s turning into a dive bar with a $5 cover charge. Pretty soon the only requirement for entrance will be having played music in a bar.
6 responses to “It’s Only the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…”
Great article, Tim. I’m with you 100%. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, “I refuse to join any club that has Lionel Richie and Journey as members.”
Groucho would agree!!
Yes, I agree we were very spoiled by the amazing scope of talent and creativity that we were immersed in. And the definition of Rock has been stretched beyond acceptable limits.
I think rock and roll royalty is pretty well set. Are there any new really good r&r bands out there? What radio station is playing their work? We’re always listening to rock classic stations. Is the saying “rock and roll will never die” a false prophesy? I really liked your scathing comment that maybe just playing music in a bar could qualify you for induction in the r&r hall of fame. Ouch!!
Thanks Tovah – I guess rock and roll isn’t dying – it’s just transforming into something that I don’t like. And it saddens me that future generations will grow up thinking that the music they are force fed is actually good.
I totally agree. This and future generations were born too late. I’m thinking of the times on the weekend when me and John and friends would pile into cars and drive to the Village to go to the Fillmore East (established by Phil Graham who already had the SF Fillmore going). We saw real greats there like B. B. King, Jeff Beck group with Rod Stewart as lead singer, Nicky Hopkins on piano; also the Who …..they simply blew our faces off with their music, John Mayall (blues artist), and many more. Probably paid $10 each back in ’69-’70. When John got out of the army in ’69 I got us tickets to see the Stones at Madison Square Garden. They put on a fabulous show. I’m just glad we at least have the memories. Please write posts more often. Love reading your stuff. TOVAH