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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hall of Fame, Walk of Shame

In honor of this weekend's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, I got curious about who's in and who's out. Not that my talentless opinion matters, but bitching and list-making are our true national pastimes. So here are my top-10 outs who should be ins and top-10 ins who should be outs. As you'll see, I don't have much quarrel with early inductions, from 1986-2009. But the recent crops (2010-13) seem almost random, when you compare who's still standing outside. The numbers next to the unjust outs are the years eligible and the times nominated.

Stupid snubs:
1) Warren Zevon (18/0): You gotta be kidding me that he's never even been nominated. One of the smartest songwriters ever--"Lawyers, Guns and Money," "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," "My Ride's Here"--and had a huge hit with "Werewolves of London." He's added more classic tunes to the great American songbook than half the artists in the Hall.
2) Big Star (15/0): a primary influence on REM, the Replacements, Whiskeytown, and Wilco, four of the best bands ever. And all three of Big Star's 70s studio albums are on Rolling Stone's list of 500 best albums ever, and they're all ranked way too low.
3) Lucinda Williams (8/0): arguably the best woman rock songwriter of the last 30 years, and one of the best songwriters period. Lucinda Williams (1988) and Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998) are perfect records.
4) the Replacements (6/0): the sine qua non of 80s indie rock.
5) Gram Parsons (20/3): seems likely to eventually make it, but come on.
6) Eurythmics (6/0): really? No love for Annie Lennox? Sweet dreams are not made of this.
7) the Cure (9/1): not necessarily my favorite band or genre (goth), but they defined an entire genre in post-80s rock & roll and were expert musicians and song-smiths. Classic songs and big hits, lots of them.
8) Husker Du (6/0): once again, not a lot of establishment love for 80s indie-rock
9) the Jam (10/0): see # 8
10) Steve Earle (2/0): Still early. I understand this snub--intellectually. But not in my gut. He's making better records right now than anyone on the schlub list made ever. See #1, #3, #8.

(HM: the Cars, Nick Cave, Cheap Trick, Dire Straits, Nick Drake, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris, the Smiths, T. Rex, X)

Unworthy schlubs:
1) Heart (2013): they're an OK band, with some good songs in the 70s, and some awful 80s hair metal that almost nullify the earlier work. Just not in a league with the artists above.
2) Donna Summer (2013): disco queen, hits, yawn.
3) Rush (2013): my first concert, in high school. Again, not a bad band--good musicians (for Canadians!), horrible, horrible pseudo-intellectual Randian lyrics/politics. Making prog-metal almost listenable is not a reason to put them in the Hall.
4) Donovan (2012): ewwwww.
5) Neil Diamond (2011): shmaltsy pop-rock for which I have occasional respect.
6) ABBA (2010): please, let Disco die.
7) Genesis (2010): borderline. I understand this--intellectually. But not in my gut.
8) Sex Pistols (2006): yeah, yeah, yeah, invented punk music, one epoch-defining classic album, etc. But really only one album. And does anyone want to listen to it after they're 18?
9) the Bee Gees (1997): see #6
10) Frank Zappa (1995): genius? sure, but how many people actually listened to this? Or liked it?

I left off this list the artists I didn't know (who is Laura Nyro?), especially from the 50s and early 60s, along with the genres I don't much understand (funk, rap, etc.). There are also a few bands that I never liked much (Van Halen, Run-DMC, Metallica) whose induction I totally get and respect. So I limit the latter list to music I've heard, lived through, and even enjoyed on occasion. Can you do better?


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