So, I know the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is at times controversial, sometimes political and always polarizing subject. Some think it’s contrived, others a complete waste of time. I have been critical of their inability to nominate qualified artists over some that have been sketchy at best.
Now, I know opinion is a major boiling point in things like this. I don’t like this band so they shouldn’t be in there. How can they say that’s rock and roll!? Where’s KISS!? They let N.W.A. in? Those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the HOF. I was guilty of that, as I’ve said (and said above). But, I have to look beyond my personal tastes (because there’s not account for that I’ve always been told) and look to the importance of the artist.
First off, what constitutes Rock and Roll? Is it just a genre of music that includes predetermined instruments with or without vocals? Or, does it go beyond that and stretch into attitudes as well? My admitted idol, Gene Simmons, sparked a bit of controversy last year over the inclusion of N.W.A. in the HOF. According to Rolling Stone, Gene said this to Ice Cube: “Respectfully, let me know when Jimi Hendrix gets into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. Then you’ll have a point.” Ice Cube shot back about Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Chubby Checker inventing rock and roll and, from what I can understand, Cube made it about race (but… wasn’t Jimi black?). Gene said in response: “You’ve got Grandmaster Flash in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Run-D.M.C. in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? You’re killing me. That doesn’t mean those aren’t good artists. But they don’t play guitar. They sample and they talk. Not even sing.” I don’t know that I agree with him on that part. Yeah, rap is a different animal altogether but I believe what Cube said in response to that part was all telling: “I respect Gene Simmons, but I think he’s wrong on this because rock & roll is not an instrument and it’s not singing. Rock & roll is a spirit. N.W.A is probably more rock & roll than a lot of the people that he thinks belong there over hip-hop. We had the same spirit as punk rock, the same as the blues.”
I want to focus on six words in that last part. Rock & roll is a spirit.
It took me a long time to realize that. It wasn’t something that I liked, therefore it wasn’t something that needed to be in the Hall of Fame. Well, bullstein on that! Anyone can look at my music reviews on this blog in particular and tell that I am no expert on anything other than my opinion. My backstory and history and the music industry’s backstory and history don’t necessarily run in the same circles. I like what I like and I’m pretty staunch in those things, right or wrong, I’m there. What I like compared to what most others like is hit or miss (usually leaning more toward the “miss”) and certainly my ideas on what something should be is just a personal incantation. It’s not gospel or even informed a lot of the time. That’s one reason why with the Eugeology list, I have tried to pay very close attention, do some research and craft the proper responses and or thoughts for each entry. Rock and roll is a state of mind, or, well, spirit.
This brings us back to the HOF and the inductees for 2018 have been announced. First, let’s see who was actually nominated this year: The Meters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, J. Geils Band, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Link Wray, Moody Blues, Dire Straits, Eurythmics, Judas Priest, Kate Bush, Rage Against the Machine, Depeche Mode, The Zombies, The MC5, The Cars, LL Cool J, Bon Jovi, Nina Simone and Radiohead.
I voted many times (you were allowed one per IP addy, per day) and my votes were always the same with one alternating. I voted for The Cars, Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Nina Simone, Dire Straits, and Eurythmics. I guess my newfound love for first wave/new wave was showing. However, three of those actually made it in. I wasn’t not for Judas Priest, The Zombies, Kate Bush or MC5 to get in, I would have been fine with them, as well. But, not who I was voting for this time. The final list was as such: Bon Jovi, Nina Simone, Dire Straits, Moody Blues, The Cars and listed as “an early influencer,” Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe. I hate that title for her, “early influencer.” I’m not a fan of blues and I’ve made no bones about that, but man this lady could wail some serious blues guitar and she sang like nobody’s business. She belted her tunes with major conviction and regardless of whether she was relevant mostly in the 1940s or not, I believe if she’s worthy of being in, she’s worthy of being in. It doesn’t need a special category. At least not in that direction. She deserves to be here because she was influential to many of the top blues musicians, either directly or indirectly. I wanted a few YouTube vids to get myself more acquainted with her style and man, it was pretty great. Yeah, I just said that.
Nina Simone, it’s about danged time. She stood out. There was none like her. She was scary, too. She thought nothing of pointing out someone in the audience that was being an idiot or disruptive and she’d tear you a “new one” anytime she thought you were wronging her. Great musician and great raspy, yet smooth vocals. My first introduction to her was in the film Point of No Return (the Americanized La Femme Nikita) which wasn’t that great of a film but whatever. I also loved her version of “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” (the Jaffa Remix). And, she’s a North Carolina girl! She’s from Tryon, NC.
The Cars were never known for their dynamic stage presence, but they wrote some catchy-arsed tunes. Their first album is darn near perfect start to finish and I really dug Heartbeat City, as well. They were the inspiration for a good many new wave and mainstream artists alike. One of my votes, I am glad they’re getting in. I hate Ben Orr won’t be here to see it.
Dire Straits. I was never a “fan” per se, but they have some serious moments. Brothers in Arms is a fantastic and powerful album from end-to-end, even if you leave in “Money for Nothin'” and “Walk of Life.” As overplayed as those songs were, they were well written and what guitarist isn’t at least a little bit jealous they didn’t write the opening riff of “Money?” I have to admit I didn’t know what that song was about until about two years ago. It snapped and I was like… wait! It’s about that!? I don’t know what I thought it was about, really. But, it’s a little twinge of jealousy from two working joes that they have to do all this heavy lifting and these “yoyos” playing their guitars get paid for nothing. Not true of course, but we all choose our “work.” Of course, their career is far beyond that album forward and backward. Mark Knopfler is a great guitarist and his work on the soundtrack for The Princess Bride was quite awesome. I’m glad they got in.
I really know very little of Moody Blues other than that sappy arsed “Nights in White Satin,” “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)” and 1986’s “Your Wildest Dreams.” I know I should know more. I will probably get educated on my lack of knowledge by those who read this blog. I would go as far as saying that I want to know more. I do have The Other Side of Life on vinyl (with the aforementioned “Your Wildest Dreams”). Perhaps that will go on soon. I know it’s a pale representation of the band’s collective work but you gotta start with what you’ve got, right? I guess.
Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi. Hmmm… Okay, I’ll admit it. I like Bon Jovi from New Jersey back. My favorite album from them is the first one, cleverly called Bon Jovi. It was piano/keyboard driven rock and I liked that. “Love Lies” and “Shot Through the Heart” are great. On CD the only one of those in the range I mentioned that I don’t have is 7800° Fahrenheit. I don’t know why, either. I know they get a bad rap when it comes to rock and roll. It was cheesy and hair bandy, sure. But, they sold records and they put on a good show. The songs, as juvenile and over-polished as they sometimes were, were well-written. I can’t complain about them, really. Plus, they outright beat the pants off the other nominees in the fan votes. I mean it wasn’t even close. The fan vote was easily twice as many as the next closest nominee if not three times. It was crazy. I knew they’d not have a problem getting in, so I never voted for them.
Well, that’s my thoughts on this. I will probably get wrung for it, but hey, it’s the way it is. What are your thoughts, Dear Reader? Who do you feel should be in the HOF that isn’t? Of what are your thoughts on the HOF in general? What could be done to make it a more legitimate accolade? Is it already legit? Answer me those things. Thanks in advance.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“I don’t mind you coming here and wasting all my time. Cause when you’re standing oh so near I kinda lose my mind. It’s not the perfume that you wear. It’s not the ribbons in your hair. And I don’t mind you coming here and wasting all my time.” – “Just What I Needed” (Ocasek)
Comment on “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or: Sing It Sister!”
In many ways, the Rock n’ Roll HOF has become just the Music HOF. But it was never really just “rock” anyway (wasn’t Robert Johnson an early entrant?). It seems to be more about the importance long term of the artist & their music, as well as the impact they had as a whole. Example…WWE HOF is more or less now a Pro Wrestling HOF, as many inductees made a bigger name for themselves outside of WWE (some never wrestled there at all). I guess the point I’m trying to make is that any HOF will have these questions/issues because opinion always will .have some influence on whatever criteria is used.