I tried — and failed — to prevent Cat Stevens from getting in.
I cheered when KISS (finally) made the ballot, and won.
And here we are again:
Time to scream at each other about the latest nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Once again, you can vote on a pre-selected short list of nominees over at the Hall’s site — in between yelling “What???” “Who???” and “Wait: Isn’t he in there already?”
That short list is — brace yourself:
- Green Day
- Nine Inch Nails
- The Smiths
- Lou Reed
- Paul Butterfield Blues Band
- Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
- The Marvelettes
- The Spinners
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Bill Withers
Yeah, I know:
Where to start?
Look, some of their songs are OK.
I hear that “Good Riddance” has replaced “Stairway to Heaven” as school-dance-last-song in some municipalities, so there’s that.
(And if that song’s good enough for Glen Campbell, it’s good enough for me.)
I can also overlook their naive, juvenile political posturing, because I’ve had to do that with bands I actually like.
But here’s the thing:
I’d call them a fake punk band, except there are real fake punk bands (if that makes sense) that are better than Green Day:
Although granted it helps if your fake band has these guys in it:
Plus Green Day steal. A lot.
Their “21 Guns” is ELO’s “Telephone Line.”
And I can’t believe those scary looking guys in Oasis didn’t beat up Billie Joe et al. over this.
Those are just two examples.
Even if you think they’re a wonderful band, and/or that the Hall of Fame is a joke, do you really think Green Day deserve to get in (on their first year of eligibility, no less) while older, widely respected groups like Yes remain un-inducted?
Sting is already an inductee via The Police (which is bad enough).
Ditto Lou Reed, who was (more deservedly) ushered in along with the rest of The Velvet Underground (but he just died this time last year, so he might get a sentimental nod — no pun intended).
N.W.A isn’t “rock and roll,” but the Hall started admitting rap and hip-hop giants years ago, affirmative action style, so there’s nothing we can do about it.
Chic and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band get nominated every year; I’m convinced that’s the doing of one old record exec who REALLY likes them a lot.
I love The Marvelettes and other girl groups — having said here before that this double album doesn’t feature a single bad song — but a bunch of talented but mostly anonymous, interchangeable female singers performing other people’s tunes shouldn’t be considered on the same level as giant, genius instrumentalists and composers like The Who.
I feel the same way about The Spinners.
Nine Inch Nails? Meh.
War? Double meh.
Ultra original, sure, but have they really influenced anyone (other than a few suicides)?
So who does that leave us with?
Genre-spanning singer-songwriter Bill Withers was more talented than many of the people above combined.
A 33-year-old Navy veteran when he had his first hit, Withers remained detached from the hype and nonsense of show business and walked away for good when commercial interests tried to interfere with his art.
I like the sound of that, too.
Joan Jett: I’m torn about this one.
She and the other Runaways should be nominated instead of just her and the Blackhearts.
(As a friend of mine quipped, “Quick! Name a Blackheart.”)
Without The Runaways — and The Slits, who also need to be nominated — you don’t have The Go-Gos, Hole and any number of “riotgrrl” groups.
That said, I’m enjoying the recent rehabilitation Jett is receiving, just for sticking around.
I watched her get booed at a big stadium festival gig back in the “I Love Rock and Roll”-era ’80s, for the crime of being, not just a “sell out,” but an “old” female who refused to quietly, gracefully retire. The rock-critic establishment who led those choruses from afar have conveniently forgotten about that era, I see.
But if this is how Joan Jett gets into the Hall, I can live with that.
In terms of sheer influence, Kraftwerk deserves to get in, too:
Kraftwerk is the foundation upon which all synthesizer-based rock and roll and electronic dance music is built.
Period. Like their music or not, they were absolute originals.
Finally, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s name was the one most likely to provoke cries of “Isn’t he in there already?!” from shocked internet commenters.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on such matters, but we all have it on excellent authority that Vaughan was one of the great guitarists.
Better still, unlike so many virtuosos, he was diligent about acknowledging his debt to previous masters. We could use more artists with a sense of history and humility.
My gut tells me that Vaughan will make it in this year.
It looks like, so far, the public agrees:
Every year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also honors “behind the scenes” types — managers, disk jockeys, producers — with a lifetime achievement award.
Last year the recipient was long-time Rolling Stone manager and all-around Swinging London scenester Andrew Loog Oldham.
Other inductees in that category have included Quincy Jones, Brian Epstein and Don Kirshner.
It’s probably too early for my suggestion to be considered an obvious one, but I expect someday we’ll see this award go to the hugely annoying, downright duplicitous and unarguably essential Malcolm McLaren.
This year? Who knows?
Rodney Bingenheimer would be a hoot. Why the hell not?
And finally, if the Hall brings back its “Early Influence” award, then it should go to Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Now the fun part:
Fight it out in the comments!