This year’s induction group for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (hereafter referred to as the R&R HOF) includes the following:
Leonard Cohen, John Mellencamp, The Dave Clark Five, and The Ventures. Madonna’s been inducted, too, but I’ll get to her in a few….
Let’s look at this group with a purely jaundiced eye (mine) for a few moments, shall we? And let’s NOT look at them as fans but as reasonable, rational creatures who know something about music, the music business, and about the traitor to music horse shit purveyor that is Jann Wenner, chair of the artist selection committee, who manipulates the selection system.
The selection process has long been considered tainted, but I’ll say no more about that for now and simply assess the credentials of these latest inductees in my usual snarkily entertaining way:
Leonard Cohen – Quick! Name a song he wrote beside “Suzanne.” Uh huh. Thought you might have that problem. Should even an intellectuals’ darling who’s really a one hit wonder be in the R&R HOF? Besides, shouldn’t a singer/songwriter be able to sing? I think you know the correct answer…. I mean, Donovan‘s not in, Nick Drake’s not in, and Cohen is?
John Mellencamp – You may not like his work, but it’s uniformly very good – and sporadically it’s great. I’d say he’s an “on the bubble” case….
The Ventures – Since they taught just about every freakin’ kid in America to play guitar, including Mike and me, they get in. Ask anybody over the age of 45 to play “Walk, Don’t Run” or “Pipeline.” You’ll understand pretty quickly what the word “influence” means…. (Surely to God Dick Dale’s already in, right…? RIGHT…?)
The Dave Clark Five – I’m going to make my brother in music Mike go ballistic here – but, NO, they don’t belong. Why? Because if THEY go in, Herman’s Hermits have to go in. Same time period, career arcs almost identical, memorable tuneage equally as poppy and silly. Influence almost equally as non-existent. The Hollies would have been a much more worthy choice. (And why, I wonder, are the Lovin’ Spoonful in when the Hollies aren’t?) Do you want that? Herman’s freakin’ Hermits in the R&R HOF? Do, you, Mike? That’s what I thought…. 😉
Last, but certainly not least, there’s Madonna. Interestingly, the Wikipedia list of R&R HOF inductees calls her an “entertainer.”
Madonna’s about a lot of stuff – marketing, second/third wave feminism, cultural rebellion, bad acting, self-indulgent children’s books – but she’s NOT, repeat NOT about music. I’d fain to guess that the song most associated with Madonna is “Material Girl.” Think about that for a moment – and decide if that’s what rock and roll means to you.
I feel comfortable saying it’s not.
And that’s why the R&R HOF has become the joke it has become. And why its selection of Madonna is of a piece with what it has become. Because Madonna is about THE BUSINESS, not about THE MUSIC – and she’s going into the R&R HOF because all the assholes of my generation, like Jann Wenner, who didn’t have the talent to write and play THE MUSIC themselves have chosen to make it about nothing but THE BUSINESS.
And so many artists who had the talent have been ignored because it’s easier to manipulate – or, in the case of Madonna, collude with – creatures who are not musical artists but instead are images that can be shilled to line the pockets of guys jealous that the band always got the girls….
So now they’ve taken the worst girl of them all and elevated her to the status of legend.
And they’re bloody well welcome to her….