Monday, January 29, 2018

Songs Of Proof: The Class Of 1989

Another week, another year.  We come now to the Class Of 1989.  We're still a year away from the British Invasion from becoming eligible en masse, but yes, it's already poking through.  The Beatles were inducted the year before, and now w e have the act most widely considered their rival.  Some even call them, "The World's Greatest Rock And Roll Band."  Besides these British bad boys, we've got a double dose of Motown, some solid Southern soul, a Bronx boy, and we even run up against a tremendous wall.  We're still in that strong era where these are no-brainers... but maybe not so obvious to some of the sectors of John Q. Public.  Still, even the Early Influences are legendary names that pretty much everyone has heard of.  It's another quick round of nine, so let's run through them and honor these legends of rock and roll music.

Dion:  Dion is one of the more unique cases of Front Man Fever.  Unlike many of the others, Dion was absolutely eligible as a solo artist when he was first nominated, and his solo career was bigger, more commercially successful, and arguably more worthy of induction into the Hall Of Fame.  That said, I absolutely still want to see the Belmonts inducted; however, I don't want another Special Committee selection for them.  Dion's solo career was worthy of induction, and he should be inducted a second time as a member of Dion And The Belmonts.  And while many thought the Del Satins were the Belmonts on his biggest hit, it is indeed a solo record.  Addtionally, "Runaround Sue" may employ the quintessential rock and roll melody.  Its earliest form was as "A Night With Daddy G" by the Church Street Five, and is also heard in variations on Gary "U.S." Bonds' "Quarter To Three," Chubby Checker's "Dancing Party," and Ernie Maresca's "Shout! Shout!" to name a few.  But the best known rendition, the most enduring version is Dion's, and so it is used here for him.  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof for Dion And The Belmonts: "I Wonder Why")

The Ink Spots:  They are one of those acts that their influence is tied very much to their commercial success.  That might not sound like much, but considering they were a Black vocal group in the United States during the 1940's, the fact that they appeared and performed in the movies that they did, (TWO numbers in Abbott And Costello's Pardon My Sarong... HUGE!) is an amazing accomplishment.  They not only influenced, but emboldened many of the vocal R&B groups that made the formative sub-genre of rock and roll now known as doo-wop.  Though "The Gypsy" was a huge record for them, one of their best known songs is their version of "We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, And Me)," and that is what is used here.  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Don't Get Around Much Anymore")

Otis Redding:  I implore participants in this endeavor to be respectful of others' opinions on these lists.  That said, anyone who uses "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" for Otis Redding, I would have to assume simply hasn't done their homework on the man.  His songs were the blueprint for the sound of Muscle Shoals, as far as I'm concerned.  A song much more representative of his overall style, is the original, pre-Aretha masterpiece "Respect."  Aretha's is the more famous version, but I love this one so much more.  Immaculate horn work, solid percussion and bass line, and soulful pleas delivering the lyrics.  Has to be this one.

The Rolling Stones:  The bad boys of rock and roll, as they were known.  Directly marketed to be different from the Beatles, their songs have been the soundtrack for those who wanted to be known as bad boys themselves.  The song I've chosen isn't one of the more obvious choices, but it's a solidly great song, with a bluesy guitar feel, incomprehensible singing from Mick, and lyrics that from what you could discern, are about vice as a metaphor for sex and/or love.  Just to shake things up (you'll get the pun in a second), I went with "Tumbling Dice."

Bessie Smith:  Probably the most overall famous Early Influence not inducted in 2000, because she transcends the blues and her influence on rock and roll, and shoots straight through into the discussion of Americana as a whole concept.  Despite how early in the recording industry her career was, her songbook is pretty well preserved.  When I first made the CD set, I found a couple decent quality copies of "Downhearted Blues" from her.  That's how important her records are: recorded in 1923, you can make out more of the lyrics than the aforementioned song for the Stones, recorded almost 50 years later.  A legendary song from a legendary singer.  

The Soul Stirrers:  This is one I still kind of want to change.  Sam Cooke was not inducted a second time as a member of this gospel outfit, so I really want to find something from their years on Aladdin Records, before Sam joined, and not some great song that still has Sam singing lead at some point, like "I'm So Glad (Trouble Don't Last Always)".  Sadly, any worthwhile compilation of those songs is prohibitively expensive.  In lieu of that, I chose a song that Sam isn't lead singer on, though you can distinctly hear him in the backing vocals.  It's still a great song that shows their influence towards the styles of soul and secular R&B.  "Wade In The Water" is a fantastic song that you need to check out right now.  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "The Last Mile Of The Way")

Phil Spector:  It's funny, when you consider all the illegal acts committed by Rock And Roll Hall Of Famers, it's almost ridiculous that Phil Spector stands out as the worst of them all.  That's not turning a blind eye to his heinous deeds; it's just addressing the kneejerk objections to honoring him in this CD set.  His character aside, the music he produced is absolutely phenomenal.  So many fantastic songs, from the girl groups, the Righteous Brothers, working with John Lennon and George Harrison in solo efforts, Ramones, and as a bonus, I encourage you to give another listen to Sonny Charles And The Checkmates' "Black Pearl."  For years, Phil Spector worked to keep acts he produced out of the Hall, arguing he was the real artist.  And he was a musician, too.  He played guitar on the Drifters' "On Broadway" and the Rolling Stones' "Play With Fire," and began his musical career as a member of a doo-wop group.  This is one of those songs that is a holdover from my efforts to turn this into a daylong program on an Oldies station.  Since he was a member of the Teddy Bears, and since he learned much from the producer of the Teddy Bears' records, I chose to honor him with "To Know Him Is To Love Him."

The Temptations:  The Emperors Of Soul, as they were sometimes known.  So many great records in their early days, where they recorded polished soul masterpieces, they went on to a longer, very successful albeit slightly less revered era of funky songs, many of which had lyrics of social conscience, or at least conscientiousness.  I kind of combined the two.  A love song that's funky!  Apologies to omitting David Ruffin, who was gone by the time this was recorded, but let's honor this mammoth of Motown with "I Can't Get Next To You."  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "I Wish It Would Rain")

Stevie Wonder:  The Boy Genius Of Motown.  I suspect many of you would go for his '70s jams, whether it's "Superstition," "Higher Ground," "I Wish," "Sir Duke," or "Living For The City."  Naturally, I ignored all those choices and went with an earlier record.  Again, Oldies station program.  Still, there's nothing wrong with using "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" as it's a great early song from Stevie, with the signature Motown accentuation of every beat.  Fun stuff.

And with that, we've finished our salute to the Class Of 1989.  Start thinking about 1990.  It's a big year.  But also think about 1989 here and now.  What would you do differently?  Where do you agree?  I'm all ears.  Comments section at the bottom; recap immediately below.

Dion: "Runaround Sue"
the Ink Spots: "We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, And Me)"
Otis Redding: "Respect"
the Rolling Stones: "Tumbling Dice"
Bessie Smith: "Downhearted Blues"
the Soul Stirrers: "Wade In The Water"
Phil Spector: "To Know Him Is To Love Him" by the Teddy Bears
the Temptations: "I Can't Get Next To You"
Stevie Wonder: "Uptight (Everything's Alright)"

Monday, January 22, 2018

Songs Of Proof: The Class Of 1988

We now jump from the all-time largest induction class from the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame to a class that is among the smallest.  Both this class and the one after it had nine inductees each, a record that would stand until the Class Of 1998, with its eight inductees.  But even with its small size, it's a monumental class.  Legendary titans of the genre became eligible, and even though there were a multitude of worthy artists overlooked for the previous two classes, this is when the Hall really started creating the backlog of artists.  But there's a lot of important stuff to work with just in this class as it stands.  Folk rock starts becoming eligible.  The British Invasion acts that changed our understanding and definition of rock and roll are starting to become eligible.  For most rock fans, this is when the acts they care about start becoming eligible and getting inducted.  It's a wonderful time to be a rock and roll fan, so let's pick a playlist.

The Beach Boys:  Often nicknamed "America's band," this is one of the first bands that engaged youth culture beyond catchphrases and teenage romance.  Even more than a band about surfing and being on the beach, the Beach Boys were well-attuned to the attitudes of the youth, and the song I've chosen encapsulates pretty much that entire ethos... despite the fact that it doesn't actually mention surfing at all.  Maybe it's heretical to make the song for the Beach Boys something that isn't about being out on the sand or the waves, but I felt the song that best captures what they were about was the first song of theirs to grab the coveted brass ring, the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100, "I Get Around." (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Wendy")

The Beatles:  Possibly the most difficult song to choose.  Their catalog in its entirety is so well-known, that choosing their Song Of Proof cannot be a casual matter.  Indeed, I gave this one a lot of thought.  What the Beatles brought to rock and roll music was first of all a revival.  Music historians like to claim the early '60's as the time when rock and roll was losing ground and possibly on the verge of extinction, and the Beatles came along and gave it new life.  So their chosen tune should be a song with a decidedly rocking beat.  They were experimental, innovative as it were, testing new waters.  They were influential, and still are.  And you cannot overlook the fact that they were popular.  They were everywhere, they were a hot product, they were all over both the singles and the albums charts.  And I think I have a song that indeed captures all of that.  It's got a solid beat, and notable guitar work for those who think that the guitar is the most important characteristic of rock and roll.  Exemplifying their influence, it's one that gets covered a lot, including one or two that have also charted.  Experimental... somewhat.  It's by no means garden variety in terms of pop formula, except for having three verses--in fact, there aren't really even any other Beatles' songs that sound like this one (except maybe "Get Back," which was ineligible since Billy Preston was also credited on it).  And it's officially recognized as one of their twenty #1 hits, though some would say the other side was the real #1--and even if you do, this song did make it all the way up to #2 on its own before Billboard magazine changed their chart methodology, combining A- and B-sides.  Ladies and gentlemen, for the Beatles, I chose "Come Together."  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Nowhere Man")

The Drifters:  In my opinion, one of most of the most underrated groups in all of rock and roll.  No one in their right mind would deny them their place in the history books... at least in some capacity.  But just spend some time with a box set of their stuff, and you'll be treated to some amazing music, discovering immense greatness.  So, it's pretty well understood that they belong.  But do you induct just the original Drifters?  Do you induct the group that was first known as the Five Crowns, and were renamed by the man who owned the rights to the name, "the Drifters"?  Do you induct both groups, but separately, as the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame did?  The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, in a move of both wisdom and folly, chose to recognize both eras in a single induction, while selecting only a few members from either era.  So, how on earth does one choose a song for this group?  Well, this is NOT the inductee that I gave two Songs Of Proof, surprisingly.  Nope, just one.  One interesting thing about this group is that the two eras had a member in common: Johnny Moore.  he first joined in 1955, and after a stint in the army and a subsequent minor solo career, he rejoined the group in the '60's.  Maybe you'd call it a weaselly move on my part, but I figured the best way to represent both eras simultaneously was with a fantastic song that Johnny Moore sang lead on.  And with that, I decided on "Saturday Night At The Movies."  (The Vocal Group Hall Of Fame did two different inductions with this legacy, and so they have two songs on that CD set of mine: "Honey Love" and "Please Stay".)

Bob Dylan:  I have to admit, this is another artist that I recognize the importance of, would never deny it, but not one I particularly enjoy listening to.  He's not the most blessed singer ever, but his songs were absolutely important.  As I've said, I was originally trying to make this playlist a day-long program to play on an Oldies station, so once I settled on using "Like A Rolling Stone" for that original effort, I never saw reason to change it to anything else, especially since it's arguably his most important and most influential song (and certainly his biggest chart hit).  

Berry Gordy, Jr.:  The mastermind behind Motown records, with so many artists that themselves ended up being enshrined, and a few who've been nominated or considered, but haven't broken through yet.  What song do you possibly choose to honor this man?  How do you choose from so many Hall Of Fame artists?  I admit, I strongly considered using "Pops, We Love You," but I ultimately decided against it.  The funny thing though, is that the Motown empire gave us so many great songs, even from artists who will probably never get nominated, much less inducted: solo David Ruffin, his brother Jimmy Ruffin, Rare Earth, the Velvelettes, etc.  Motown was the record label, more than Chess, Atlantic, Cameo-Parkway, or Columbia; that symbolized the union of youth culture and Black culture.  And however worthy you may feel they are, at this point it is pretty unlikely the Contours will ever be submitted at Nominating Committee gatherings.  So I feel pretty safe and secure using the phenomenal and timeless "Do You Love Me" to represent everything given to us by Berry Gordy, Jr.

Woody Guthrie:  Yes, he wrote a lot of songs, but honestly, would you use anything other than "This Land Is Your Land"?  I learned the chorus and first verse back in elementary school.  They teach (or used to) this song to elementary school kids.  That's how important this song is in the American songbook.

Lead Belly:  It's been spelled as two words and as one.  I prefer one, since it's basically a mispronunciation of his last name "Ledbetter;" however, the man himself preferred it as two words, and we'll honor that.  Anyway, I suspect many of you would rather use "Goodnight Irene" for this man, but I think that even though his wasn't the original, his version of "Rock Island Line" is a much more seminal record.  And that's what I'm going with here.

Les Paul:  The man wasn't just a guitar legend, but an innovator, bringing double-tracking to the world of music.  Both are ably represented by his instrumental, "Nola."  As a postscript, I would love to see him inducted a second time as a duo with his wife Mary Ford.  The songs they recorded together, the way her vocals were double-tracked, there's no way those records weren't influential too.

The Supremes:  Funny thing, this is a group that it was harder to decide on my Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof for than for this set.  Diana's ego was so prominent that it dominated through the songs, not allowing for much harmony to be heard from the other Supremes.  Anyway, back to this Hall.  I much prefer the post-Ross Supremes to the Diana-led era, but there's no way I could getaway with using "Stoned Love" for them.  My conscience just wouldn't allow it.  As a classic Motown group, a song with a classic Motown style seems most appropriate, and so I chose "Stop! In The Name Of Love."  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes")

It seems so strange to be done after only nine inductees, but that's how it is this year, and next, and several other years to follow.  Do you agree with my selections?  Disapprove of my rationale for any of them?  Post your thoughts and choices in the Comments below!  And to recap:

the Beach Boys: "I Get Around"
the Beatles: "Come Together"
the Drifters: "Saturday Night At The Movies"
Bob Dylan: "Like A Rolling Stone"
Berry Gordy, Jr.: "Do You Love Me" by the Contours
Woody Guthrie: "This Land Is Your Land"
Lead Belly: "Rock Island Line"
Les Paul: "Nola"
the Supremes: "Stop! In The Name Of Love"

Monday, January 15, 2018

Songs Of Proof: The Class Of 1987

Happy Martin Luther King, Junior Day everyone!  We come now to the second class of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, the Class Of 1987.  This is notably the largest class to date, and quite possibly the largest there ever will be.  And wow, are there a lot of legends.  Many of whom could just as easily have been considered important enough to have been inducted in the charter class, the year before.  This is also the year where we get our first female inductee, our first group of more than two members (and with it, the first run-in with snubbed members), as well as the biggest and most egregious case of Front Man Fever that hopefully we will ever see.

But still, a class with a size that we would like to see more of.  It's fairly diverse, about as diverse as it can be given how many rock and roll acts were actually eligible at that time, and plenty of name recognition to go around.  So many artists with so many good songs, it's hard to choose just one song for each inductee.  Fortunately, it's also hard to go wrong with any of them.  So, what's the playlist for this class?

Leonard Chess: The man behind Chess Records (one of the two, anyway), and considered the driving force.  Hoping that Phil gets his due someday, too.  Meanwhile, as it was Chess Records that introduced the world to Chuck Berry, among other artists, it seemed only right to use "Maybelline," Chuck's introductory record to honor this Non-Performer.

The Coasters:  The first group with more than two members inducted, and a terrific, albeit unlikely selection.  The Clown Princes Of Rock And Roll used humor, particularly urban humor of that era, to reach the youth of America.  The coming together of African-American culture and youth culture is probably what best defines rock'n'roll, particularly early rock'n'roll.  So, I chose the song of theirs that I thought was funniest, and that every teen can relate to: "Yakety Yak."  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Poison Ivy")

Eddie Cochran:  A great star that we lost too soon, who wrote and first recorded the song about three stars that we lost too soon, pun intended.  On "American Gold," Dick Bartley avoided using the obvious "Summertime Blues" and chose a different song.  I did that too.  A great, underrated jam from Cochran, in my opinion, is "Jeannie Jeannie Jeannie" that just captures youthful exuberance.

Bo Diddley:  Of all the inductees from this class, there are three that I felt were important enough at the dawn of rock and roll to deserve enshrinement in the first class: Bill Haley, Clyde McPhatter, and this man.  Originally, I was using "You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover," but let's be honest, the song, the man, and the beat are all inextricably tied to each other, "Bo Diddley."

Ahmet Ertegun:  Again, while no man is an island, this man was the main force that helped Atlantic Records become so prominent.  Whatever you may feel about the cronyism surrounding the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation, the importance of Atlantic Records to rock and roll cannot be denied.  Among the legendary artists he brought to the world are the Drifters, so I've chosen to salute him with a classic from the original lineup.  "Fools Fall In Love" is a fantastic song and wonderfully salutes the man, in my opinion.

Aretha Franklin:  If ever I have to explain the difference between liking and respecting something, Aretha Franklin's music is a fine example for me to use.  As much as I respect her impact and accomplishments, I'm not a fan of her music, at least not her voice.  Just don't like it.  So much so, that the opening bars of her cover of "Respect" have me reaching for the dial.  That said, every inductee gets a song.  Her stature for the empowerment of women is intertwined with her musical legacy, and I believe that "Think" fits the bill quite adequately.

Marvin Gaye:  Gonna say it right out front, this is one I'm actually thinking of changing at some point.  I'm not a huge fan of Marvin Gaye, and my favorite song by him is "It Takes Two," his duet with Kim Weston.  Since that violates the guidelines, I had to look elsewhere.  Now,  the obvious answer is to go to his work from the early '70's, right?  Yeah, I didn't do that.  Marvin's gospel influence and the way it could be heard and felt in his early years created some pretty decent toe-tappers as well.  In all honesty, if I'm gonna change it, it'll probably be to "That's The Way Love Is," but for right now, the song I'm using for him is "Can I Get A Witness."

Bill Haley:  And sometimes you have to go for the patently obvious.  The man and his band made a lot of great music together, but ultimately, the legacy he leaves the deepest is for "(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock."

Louis Jordan:  Front man fever in the Early Influence category.  If the Tympany Five ever get tacked on and enshrined at some point, I'll give them "Five Guys Named Moe."  Meanwhile, the man's wit and sensibilities, as well as much of the DNA of rock and roll, is pretty evident in a great song like "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie."

B.B. King:  One of the greatest bluesmen of all time.  Some might consider it a little too commercial, but no one can deny that "The Thrill Is Gone" follows a solid blues format, is soulfully delivered, and has the great guitar work that he was known for.

Jerry Leiber:  As I said, Non-Performer teams are broken up in this set.  The songwriting duo wrote a lot of songs that Elvis is known for, but the Coasters were also another act that recorded a lot of songs they wrote.  As a bonus, on "That Is Rock And Roll," the song I've chosen for this half, it's Jerry Leiber himself who sings during the bridge, since the group member who was supposed to sing it was having trouble nailing it down, so Jerry sang it himself.  This wasn't a chart hit, but it is regarded as one of the group's non-charted classics, so I think this is a fine song to use to remember Jerry Leiber.

Clyde McPhatter:  A talented musician that I have tremendous respect for, and hope he is inducted a third time someday.  There was no one that sounded like him, and still really haven't been any who do.  Even as a soloist, he gave us some immortal songs.  I chose "Lover Please" because it's got a great beat to it and showcases his ability to work a lyric so that it suits him impeccably.

Ricky Nelson:  The legend among other teen idols.  Got into the business to impress a girl, and made a very respectable career out of it.  A lot of his songs had a country or rockabilly tinge to it, and to that end, I've chosen "Believe What You Say" to exemplify him as a rock and roller.

Roy Orbison:  Another artist that it's really hard to go wrong with, no matter what you select, to such a degree that picking a song for him is rather difficult.  Originally, I went with his version of "Mean Woman Blues," but I ended up changing it to something a little closer to his overall general style, that song being "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)."

Carl Perkins:  He's had a lot of great songs, to be sure, but in the end, I had to go with the obvious.  The one that really impacted rock and roll.  Yup, "Blue Suede Shoes."

Smokey Robinson:  So, this is one that I intentionally went with a solo record of his, even though this original induction clearly was about all of it: his solo work, his work with the Miracles, and his work as a songwriter.  If the Award For Musical Excellence category had existed then, he would have been inducted there, most likely.  Anyway, when I first created the project, I held out hope for an induction of the Miracles at some point, and I felt Smokey's solo career really deserved recognition too, so "Being With You" fills this slot.

Mike Stoller:  The other half, the surviving half of this duo, and one of three inductees in this class still alive as of this writing (Aretha and Smokey being the other two).  For this one, I simply went right down to the bone and went with Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog."  If Big Mama Thornton ever gets her due as an Early Influence, I'll happily use another song for her, since I'm sure she'd like to be remembered for more than just doing the original version of this song.

Big Joe Turner:  Another one of those interesting cases.  Here, he's considered a Performer inductee, but as a blues pioneer, so... kinda Early Influence?  It's clear the Rock Hall was really still figuring out what was what at this point.  Either way, the original "Shake, Rattle, And Roll" represents the man's contributions wonderfully.

T-Bone Walker:  A highly influential blues performer, one of his most enduring songs, one that John Mayer sang a piece of during his induction speech for Albert King, no less, is "Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday's Just As Bad)," and I use that one here.

Muddy Waters:  Another artist that it's so hard to go wrong with, that there's no one right song either.  That said, I think "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man" is a song that will always be tied most strongly to him, no matter how many covers there have been or will be.

Jerry Wexler:  One of the first professional producers, at least as we understand the concept today.  This is a Song Of Proof that I chose based on a piece of lore.  It's an urban legend, sure, but I love the story of the tuna fish sandwich.  The story goes that the first time he heard "There Goes My Baby" by the Drifters, he threw his tuna fish sandwich up against the wall in disgust.  He was wrong about that song, as it became a big hit for the new incarnation of the Drifters; so, fishmongers everywhere, rejoice, I chose that song for Mr. Wexler.

Hank Williams:  Given how early the man recorded, his discography is surprisingly well-preserved.  A lot of good songs that still get covered to this day, and still good to listen to.  He was inducted without his Drifting Cowboys, so if they get their due for backing him, I'll give them "Move It On Over."  Meanwhile, for the man who has been inducted, I've decided to honor him with "Hey, Good Lookin'."

Jackie Wilson:  The man was nicknamed "Mr. Excitement," which is kind of odd, too, because he did a lot of ballads, a few of which include adaptations of classical melodies.  That said, whether his music was low and lovely or jumping, he was an intense R&B performer.  So, with that intensity in mind, I've gone and saluted him with "Baby Workout."

The biggest task is now complete.  Hope you haven't strained your brain too much.  Don't forget to share your list in the Comments below.  And now for the skimmers, the recap:

Leonard Chess: "Maybelline" by Chuck Berry
the Coasters: "Yakety Yak"
Eddie Cochran: "Jeannie Jeannie Jeannie"
Bo Diddley: "Bo Diddley"
Ahemt Ertegun: "Fools Fall In Love" by the Drifters
Aretha Franklin: "Think"
Marvin Gaye: "Can I Get A Witness"
Bill Haley: "(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock"
Louis Jordan: "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie"
B. B. King: "The Thrill Is Gone"
Jerry Leiber: "That Is Rock And Roll" by the Coasters
Clyde McPhatter: "Lover Please"
Ricky Nelson: "Believe What You Say"
Roy Orbison: "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)"
Carl Perkins: "Blue Suede Shoes"
Smokey Robinson: "Being With You"
Mike Stoller: "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley
Big Joe Turner: "Shake, Rattle, And Roll"
T-Bone Walker: "Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday's Just As Bad)"
Muddy Waters: "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man"
Jerry Wexler: "There Goes My Baby" by the Drifters
Hank Williams: "Hey, Good Lookin'"
Jackie Wilson: "Baby Workout"

Monday, January 8, 2018

Songs Of Proof: The Class Of 1986

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation began in 1983, and the first round of inductees were in 1986.  So, logically, I should wait three weeks from when I announced the project.  But we won't do that.  We're going to leap right into this.  Just as reminder, this is show and tell, not a voting matter.  The reasons for choosing songs vary between inductees, Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Songs Of Proof will appear in parentheses, and have fun.

We begin with the inaugural class, the one inducted in 1986.  Pretty obvious list of people inducted, and yet, still not without controversy.  A couple glaring cases of Front Man Fever to begin with, and right out of the gate, a seemingly ambiguous category whose specifications are not altogether clear.  Nevertheless, a tremendous case to begin with.  So, what songs would I use to represent these inductees?  What songs have you chosen?

Chuck Berry:  So, these are in alphabetical order, and this man comes first in the first class, because I go by last name, not first names.  We've gotta start strong.  Luckily, you can't get too much stronger than Chuck Berry.  To honor the great Chuck Berry, we're going with the semi-autobiographical classic.  Arguably his signature song, and the one that went aboard Voyager 2 to demonstrate the sounds of Earth.  "Johnny B. Goode" gets this project underway.

James Brown:  I will probably hear no end of it from fellow monitor Bill G., but I did in fact choose "I Got You (I Feel Good)"  I realize this is a song that credits the Famous Flames, but they're nowhere to be heard on this one, so as far as I'm concerned, it's a solo James Brown song.  Anyway, a great R&B classic with lyrical structure that borders on actual verses.  Maybe it's better to go with this song, as Brown as a soloist wasn't technically eligible either.  So, this only serves to perpetuate that problem further.

Ray Charles:  This is the first of many, many instances of deviating from the incredibly obvious.  The choice of "Unchain My Heart" is only semi-obvious.  A hit on the Pop charts, but a #1 hit on the R&B charts.  This is a great song with a solid beat behind it, but sadly one that isn't remembered as well as it should be.

Sam Cooke:  There are several good choices here, and I honestly question my choice for this one.  Rather than using "You Send Me" or even "A Change Is Gonna Come," I chose to show how intrinsic soul is a part of rock and roll, and used "Twistin' The Night Away," a fantastic song with a solid beat that was part of the dance craze during the early '60's. 

Fats Domino:  While this choice also keeps up with the trend of rollicking R&B, rather than the songs the artist is best known for, the truth is my selecting "I'm Ready" is really more because this is my favorite song from the Fat Man. 

The Everly Brothers:  The fact that they were pretty young when they broke big allowed them to plug right in to youth culture, which made them a part of the rock and roll discussion, rather than being remembered primarily as a country and western duo, (though they've been inducted into that Hall Of Fame too!)  So, my choice for them was a fairly countrified selection with subject matter that comically spoke to youth culture while also framing it as a victimhood of circumstance.  "Poor Jenny" is a song you need to give a listen if you can't easily recall it.  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "When Will I Be Loved")

Alan Freed:  Our first inductee outside of the category people care most about.  A great legacy with a tragic end.  A White deejay who made a specific point to feature Black records.  Sadly, it's not entirely without blemish in that nobility either.  Still, the fact he helped bring R&B to the forefront should overshadow his weaseling songwriting credit for songs like "Sincerely" by the Moonglows, and I've chosen to honor the man with this fantastic song.

John Hammond:  So, what makes this man a "Lifetime Achievement" inductee, and not another "Non-Performer" inductee?  It's all speculation, but my hypothesis is that much of what he achieved was accomplished before the conventionally accepted beginning of the "Rock" era.  He helped jumpstart the careers of many music legends before rock and roll became part of our vernacular, and worked toward desegregating the music industry prior to rock and roll going mainstream.  So, since he was more a "Pre-Rock Non-Performer," they may have originally felt uneasy calling him a regular "Non-Performer" inductee.  That's just speculation.  Similarly though, he did a lot for rock and roll, including bringing Bob Dylan to Columbia Records, so I've chosen to use the lead-off track from the classic Blonde On Blonde album.  That would be "Rainy Day Women #12 And 35."

Buddy Holly:  Unlike James Brown, I was a bit more meticulous with my selection here, in that I made sure the song I chose was in fact credited to only Buddy Holly, and not to the Crickets.  And he did have plenty of hits, too, but the nice thing about Buddy Holly's legacy is that there aren't too many songs of his that are considered obscure.  Therefore, I'm pretty happy with my selection of "Rave On," which barely scratched the Top 40, but is a widely loved cut from the man.

Robert Johnson:  Another inductee that it's hard to go wrong with.  I still can't understand all the words to "Terraplane Blues," but I enjoy trying to sing along with it, and it's considered a pretty important record; ergo, I'm calling this one good.

Jerry Lee Lewis:  The man really was a lot more than just two songs, but even the most thorough of Oldies radio stations will have maybe only four songs by the Killer.  And in order to make this into a radio show, as I originally wanted to, this one would almost absolutely have to be "Great Balls Of Fire," which still isn't a bad call, in the end.

Little Richard:  The wild man!  The man who changed our language, giving new, nonsensical interjections and the whoop that is unmistakably his.  Is it any wonder that I'd go with "Tutti Frutti"?

Sam Phillips:  And once again, we choose to bait and switch here.  Widely remembered for bringing the world Elvis Presley, and yet, when I think of him, I think more of the overall legacy of Sun Records.  When I think of the sound of Sun Records, I really think more of Jerry Lee Lewis than of Elvis Presley.  So, Jerry Lee Lewis is used twice in the same year, and I really don't have a problem with that.  "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" for Sam's sake.  Besides, Elvis is used many times throughout this series.

Elvis Presley:  A lot of people hate Elvis Presley, or what they think he stood for, what he symbolizes to them.  As someone who wasn't born until after his death, I don't have nearly quite that level of attachment to that debate.  Objectively, though, you cannot discuss the history of rock and roll and omit the man and his contributions.  His sex appeal spoke to the girls who wanted him and the guys who wanted to be him.  Heck, even Ricky Nelson got into the music business because his girlfriend at the time was so big into Elvis.  He knocked down doors and had such a prodigious output that he kept rock and roll thriving during the early years.  And if you think of rock and roll in terms of albums and not singles, well, you have Elvis to thank as much as the Beatles.  Billboard made the album charts, the Top 200, a regular feature in their weekly publication originally to keep track of Elvis's success.  He's the King Of Rock And Roll, not just in the '50's, or '60's, but also in the '70's too.  So, it is with sincerity, not mocking, that I chose to honor Elvis with his version of "Burning Love."  (Sidebar: the Jordanaires have yet to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, but they have been inducted into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame, and their Song Of Proof there is "(There'll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me)".)

Jimmie Rodgers:  Sometimes you strike gold on the first try.  The first song from him I found on filesharing services was "Blue Yodel," which is also known as "T For Texas."  It was a good copy, and it's a country song with the classic blues A-A'-B format.  If that isn't the proteins and amino acids coalescing in the primordial soup to help make rock and roll, then I don't know what is.

Jimmy Yancey:  Originally, I was using "Cuttin' The Boogie" because it was the only song I could find on firesharing servers!  Thank goodness for iTunes, as using "State Street Special" is much more fitting, and considered much more important of a song.

That's the first year right there.  Sixteen inductees, sixteen songs.  I'll recap below for anyone who simply chose to skim.  Meanwhile, think about what songs you'd use for these inductees, and share them below.  And start to think really long and hard about the next class, the biggest one the Rock Hall has had to date.  Look forward to your sharing your choices in the Comments section below!


Chuck Berry: "Johnny B. Goode"
James Brown: "I Got You (I Feel Good)"
Ray Charles: "Unchain My Heart"
Sam Cooke: "Twistin' The Night Away"
Fats Domino: "I'm Ready"
the Everly Brothers: "Poor Jenny"
Alan Freed: "Sincerely" by the Moonglows
John Hammond: "Rainy Day Women #12 And 35" by Bob Dylan
Buddy Holly: "Rave On"
Robert Johnson: "Terraplane Blues"
Jerry Lee Lewis: "Great Balls Of Fire"
Little Richard: "Tutti Frutti"
Sam Phillips: "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" by Jerry Lee Lewis
Elvis Presley: "Burning Love"
Jimmie Rodgers: "Blue Yodel"
Jimmy Yancey:  "State Street Special"

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Say it with a song: The Great Playlist

It was Christmas vacation, 1998/1999.  It might have been the first Saturday of the new year, or one of the last ones of the old year.  Either way, I was listening to the syndicated radio program, "American Gold," hosted by Dick Bartley.  His programming format typically revolved around a highlighted artist that he would play two or three times per hour, or focus on the Billboard charts for that week from a specific year, and highlight that a couple times per hour.  Not this particular week.  This week, he spent the entire four hours playing, in alphabetical order, as many inductees into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame that could fit the oldies format ("American Gold" was an oldies program) and could fit in the four hours running time.  From the Animals to the Yardbirds.  He played almost exclusively Performer inductees, with one or two Non-Performers as well.  No Early Influences, though they could have played "Hello, Dolly!" or "What A Wonderful World" from Louis Armstrong.  The Sideman category was still non-existent.  He ended the program by announcing some of the inductees for the next class, which included Del Shannon, Dusty Springfield, and Bruce Springsteen (though he didn't play any songs from any of them).  That was the weekend I found out that the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame existed (I was still in high school, so cut me a little slack).

When I was in college at Michigan State University, I listened to the oldies station out there, and occasionally, for holiday weekends or other occasions, a particular air talent named John "Jukebox Johnny" Robinson would spend most of the day on Saturday playing songs or artists in a particular theme.  For Independence Day, he'd play songs from American artists, with the songs in alphabetical order.  One Thanksgiving weekend, he played what he called "turkeys," which in this case were either songs that charted in the top ten, but probably should not have, or songs that didn't make the top ten, but absolutely should have, in his opinion.  Again, songs in alphabetical order.  Every year, around the weekend that "I Want To Hold Your Hand" began its seven-week run on the top of the charts, he would play the Beatles' songs in alphabetical order.  From "Across The Universe" to "Your Mother Should Know."  He also included the Top 40 (but not all the Hot 100) hits, as well as several non-charted classics from the solo careers of the Fab Four, whether it was Ringo's "Only You," George's "All Things Must Pass," John's "Woman" or Paul's "Girls' School."  Yes, it included "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" too.  Later, I interned for Jukebox Johnny, and pitched him the idea of doing a special program to highlight the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  Unfortunately, John never cared much for the idea.  Partially because the Program Director of the station wouldn't allow us to break format to include inductees like U2 or AC/DC, and partly because John still doesn't have a lot of respect for the Hall because of certain acts he strongly believes should be in but still aren't, such as Jan And Dean, the Monkees, and Tommy James And The Shondells.  But even despite that, I continued to create a playlist to salute every inductee because I was hoping one day I'd find a way to make it happen.

That never happened, but I adapted the dream to another medium in the meanwhile.  I decided to put together my own homemade CD set.  But that required acquiring all the songs that I wanted.  I started really compiling this playlist in 2005.  For those who remember a little bit about that time period, file sharing services were huge at the time.  Napster had already been taken down, but Limewire and Kazaa were still running.  It was hard to find decent copies via those methods, but coupled with my CD collection that I already had, I finally had a complete, homemade CD set by 2007.  A year and a half later, I discovered the Future Rock Legends community.  I found a community to share this hobby with, as well as a treasure trove of new information, including a list of all past nominees, and even names that have been brought up at the meetings of the Nominating Committee, but never made it to the final ballot.  But I've never been really keen on sharing this playlist on burned CD's that I've created and listened to several times over.  But that changes this year.

This year, I'm gonna invite you all to do what I have gone and done.  You don't have to actually burn CD's for yourself, or even create a Spotify playlist, but each week, I'll be sharing my playlist for every year of inductions for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  And I'd like all my readers and visitors to share their thoughts and songs they'd use too.

When I created the CD's, I called them "Songs Of Proof."  Basically, if you have to pick one song to espouse, encapsulate, or otherwise demonstrate why that artist deserved enshrinement, what song would it be?  And here on Rock Hall Monitors, this year, you'll also have the chance to say why you chose that song.

First off, I want to state very clearly what this is not.  This is not an election or argument.  This isn't like the Revisited, Projected, Song, or Album projects.  We don't nominate or vote for songs, and the most popular choice isn't going to be the "official" song of proof for that inductee.  The CD's have already been burnt, and I'm not going to change my playlist and burn new CD's, certainly not for people on the internet I'll probably never meet or have a chance to share those CD's with in person.  What this will be is more like show and tell.  Share and respect.  Respectfully correct factual errors, but even so, respect others' choices.

That said, even a project like this has ground rules.  Actually, they're not so much "rules," as they are "guidelines," as even I've violated most of them at one point or another.  Still, I stuck to these pretty steadfastly for the most part, and I hope you'll try to at least as much as I did:

1. Every inducted act gets a song.  No omitting ones you disagree with.  Sorry, you have to give Percy Sledge and Laura Nyro a song too.

2. Every inducted act gets ONE song.  Again, I originally wanted to make a radio special program out of this.  Now, in my playlist, one inductee has a two-song medley that most people think of as being a single song nowadays anyway, and one inductee does have two songs, for reasons that I will explain when we get to that class.  But generally, no five-song-medley jam for James Brown.  No entirety of Dark Side Of The Moon for Pink Floyd.

3. Performers and Early Influence inductees' songs should be ones where they are the only artist of credit on the song, unless impossible.  This may be a tricky rule to enforce in the future with rap artists, as trying to find a rap song nowadays that doesn't have some kind of "with," "featuring," "introducing," or "and" credit is a bit difficult.  Nevertheless, I try to make sure the inductee is the only artist of credit on their song of proof.  So, no using "When Love Comes To Town" for B.B. King or U2.  No using "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" for either the Supremes or the Temptations.  Uncredited guest appearances are okay, ("Mellow Yellow" by Donovan, e.g.), but not credited duets.

4. If a Non-Performer, Sideman, Lifetime Achievement, or Award For Musical Excellence inductee did record songs as a recording artist, you certainly may use a song they recorded for them, but it's not necessary.  Don't feel too bound to do so.  I originally tried to at first, since as a radio program, having to take an on-air break to explain a song for a Non-Performer or Sideman could just use up so much airtime.

5. If an artist was a big enough hitmaker, the Song Of Proof should have been a hit back in the day.  It doesn't have to be the most popular, biggest hit for an artist, but if they had strong presence on the singles' chart, using an obscure album cut is a little disingenuous.  Try to avoid using "Sleeping With The Television On" for Billy Joel, or the Platters' cover of "My Way" for them.

6. No using the same song for multiple inductees.  You can use "Baby, I Love You," for either the Ronettes or for Sideman Hal Blaine, but not for both.

7. No using the same composition more than once.  If you use "Runaway" for Del Shannon, no using Bonnie Raitt's cover for her Song Of Proof.

8. Christmas songs are not allowed.  Use a little brainpower for Darlene Love, Charles Brown, and Brenda Lee.

9. Non-Performer teams are broken up into individuals, each getting their own song.  I call this the Mort Shuman rule.  When I first completed my compilation, Mort Shuman had not yet been inducted, but I broke up songwriting teams because I'd held out hope for him to be inducted one day as well.  So Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller each have their own, as do Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland.  Same for Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.  However, I don't do five Beach Boys' songs with one for Brian, one for Al, one for Mike, one for Carl, and one for Dennis.  The six groups that were selected for induction by special committee for 2012 do get their own songs separate from the inducted front men across previous years.  Just wanted to clear that up.  However, I will be understanding and lenient if you choose not to break up Non-Performer teams in your versions.

10. Above all else, have fun.

No seriously, have fun with this.  Choose your songs wisely, but then once you've chosen them, don't second-guess them too much.  It's not necessary that the song you choose have all of the inducted members from a band on it, or as many as humanly possible.  You don't have to apply the same logic or methodology every time.  Sometimes I chose a song for an inductee because it was the "most rocking" song by the artist.  Sometimes I chose it because I felt that song best depicts what an inductee brought to the table.  Sometimes I even chose a song because it's my favorite song by that artist.  Sometimes, a Non-Performer's Song Of Proof is tied to a particular piece of lore or legend.  Sometimes an Early Influence's song was chosen because it was the only one I could find on Limewire or Kazaa that was clear enough to use.  And yes, sometimes I went for the obvious choice.  But don't always do that, either.  On the broadcast of "American Gold" that I listened to, when Dick Bartley got to Eddie Cochran, rather than using the ubiquitous "Summertime Blues," he switched it up and went with "C'mon Everybody," and it kept things interesting and exciting.

Two other little bits of housekeeping.  First, as some of you know, I also followed the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame until it became defunct.  I made a similar set for that Hall Of Fame too.  If a Rock Hall inductee is also a Vocal Group Hall inductee, I'll include their Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof in parentheses.  The no-reusing rules crossed over to this set too.  So, for example, I refuse to use "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" as both the Rock Hall and the Vocal Group Hall Song for Journey.  It may be used for one or the other, but not both.  Second, I said that I compiled this list with a lot of help from filesharing services.  Well, those copies weren't always the best quality, so right from the start, it was a goal of mine to get legitimate copies of songs, either from iTunes, CD's from the local library, or just purchasing CD's for myself.  I'm sure the statute of limitations has run out for those infractions, but just to be clear, my game's legit now.  Took some doing, but both my pet project and I are better off for doing it right.

It can be intellectually stimulating, it can be imaginative, and hopefully it is.  Start thinking about your Songs Of Proof for the Class Of 1986.  We'll start sharing our lists next week!

Monday, January 1, 2018

And there you have it, folks.

And the inductees were announced.  And the people were disappointed.  Mostly at the fact there were only five Performer inductees, some about how predictable it was, overall.  And some were upset that other acts didn't make the grade.  In other words, par for the course for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame when they announced the 2018 inductees.

The old saying goes, "One for them, one for you."  And in a way, that's kind of what we've got here.  First off, one for the highbrows and the critics.  Nina Simone is going in.  Now, sure, she did have a lot of love from fellow musicians, and no doubt that absolutely did help her get in, but overall, Nina is the pick for those who value the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as an institution for enshrining culture and art, and heralding the unification of diversity that rock and roll music is supposed to stand for.  And even if she was primarily jazz, her impact on rock and roll musicians, not to mention that some of her songs could quite comfortably fit into the soul songbook (seriously, had they lived, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding could have done some great homage covers of "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free"), Nina is indeed a welcome inductee.

Then of course, you have one for the great unwashed.  The masses.  Bon Jovi is the candidate for the people at large.  Out of all the names on this ballot, Bon Jovi is the one that most young and old have at least heard of and probably even know a song by, whereas the older generation might not even really know the name of Rage Against The Machine, and the younger haven't heard of Link Wray, the MC5, the Meters, or the J. Geils Band.  But Bon Jovi is a big enough name that parents make sure their children know.  And they're going in the Hall this year.

Thirdly, you have one that is primarily the musicians' choice.  That would be Dire Straits, a band that may have had some initial critical respect, and many people know a couple songs by, but ultimately, I would have to believe that it was the fellow musicians' respect for this band, and primarily for Mark Knopfler that pushed this band over the final hurdles.  When I measured the nominees by merits, I absolutely did not give full credit to that aspect of the band.  The respect among peers for Mark Knopfler and his extraneous work beyond Dire Straits should have been more of a factor than I allowed, though to be honest, it would have probably fallen under "Intangibles" and still wouldn't have gotten them a notch higher.  That said, I still came very close to predicting them.  And again, I don't think they're a bad call overall, though maybe the least desirable of the nineteen names for me, but there's room for them in the Hall.  And there'd better be, because they're heading that way.

Which brings us to the other two Performer inductees.  These are acts that I would deem each to be a happy medium for everybody.  Though prog rock is not well-loved by the critics, the musicians and the people certainly have love enough for the Moody Blues, and even some of the critics have admitted that despite their reluctance to vote for them, they should be in.  So, this is an act that had solid support from two of the three camps, and begrudging acknowledgment from the third.  Lastly, the Cars get the nod after two previous failed attempts.  As I've said repeatedly, this is the band that had something for everybody, even if they aren't the biggest name.  While I still believe that Bon Jovi will be the headliner and closing act for the ceremony in 2018, I wouldn't mind it if the Cars ended up being the finale. That is doubtful, though, since they apparently have never excelled at stage presence.

So those are the Performers.  We also have Sister Rosetta Tharpe going in as an Early Influence, to which we all say, "Finally!"  AlexVoltaire of the Northumbrian Countdown posited a hypothetical hypothesis as to how she even ended up on the main ballot to begin with, but she is being inducted in the correct category.  What might have been called the biggest Rock Hall injustice will be corrected, and we can just put it behind us.  About time she got in.

Of course, the story is as much about who didn't get in as who did.  While almost nobody felt Kate Bush had a chance, it was the choicest of chances to make a statement about rock and roll beyond an Americentric scope.  The Eurythmics and Depeche Mode both could have spoken for a sound of the '80s that the Hall is still dragging its feet to enshrine.  Judas Priest misses out for the metal fans, though I suspect they just got lost in the shuffle this time, and will be inducted within the next five years.  It seems Mark Knopfler fills the guitar god slot instead of Link Wray.  The Moody Blues are as close to representing the 1960s as we'll have this year, instead of the Zombies, the MC5, or the aforementioned Wray.  Actual, unquestionable R&B just flat-out got shafted, as the Meters, LL Cool J, and Rufus featuring Chaka Khan all fell short.  It's particularly disheartening to see LL Cool J miss, but not surprising. This is not the first time he has missed while being the only rapper on the ballot, and may not be the last time, either.

For me, it's the other three that didn't make it that are the most interesting stories for me.  First off, while few actually predicted Rage Against The Machine to make it, it's still noteworthy that they didn't make it as it both speaks in favor of the Rock Hall's integrity that they didn't use their lack of transparency to fast-track a NomComm member's induction, and also raises eyebrows at the establishment, regarding conflicts of interest in the first place.  While I am not certain if Nile Rodgers was ever on the committee for any of the eleven times that Chic was nominated, this may be something to keep in mind over the next few years, when both the Roots and the Foo Fighters become eligible.

Secondly, the failure of the J. Geils Band to make it piques my interest because this is a band that is a favorite with some of the highest higher-ups within the Foundation, most notably Jann S. Wenner himself, and also because the death of the namesake member failed to vault them over the bar this time.  I wouldn't say they should give up trying to get this group in yet; however, given the voting trends of the past three classes, if they are ever one of only three or fewer classic rock acts on the ballot, and they still cannot get enough votes to make the top five or six recipients, then it is pretty safe to say it's time to concede defeat and move on to other names.

But if course, it's the one nominee from this ballot not yet mentioned that has caused the most shock and turning of heads.  How the hell did Radiohead miss?  This would still be a valid question to ask even if the story about their Argentinian gig the night of the induction ceremony had never materialized.  Radiohead was the act that nearly everyone had predicted to make it.  They've been heralded as the last important rock act, they were the last "sure thing" as far as newly eligible artists going in immediately, the critics loved them, it seemed the people loved them.... so double you tee eff, eh?  Well, Troy L. Smith published a fascinating read as to why that might have been.  However, there's one possibility he didn't consider that I'd also inject into the discussion: everyone figured everyone else would vote for them.  It's a hypothesis I've conjectured before.  If enough voters figured that Radiohead was a certainty, without the help of their individual votes, and thus decide to select another name that they figure needed the help to get inducted, it could very possibly add up (or not add up, so to speak) to Radiohead not coming close enough to the other five to be worth inducting a sixth act, as Joel Peresman claimed.  It's a suggestion that's almost impossible to prove or disprove, without hearing from actual voters as to why they didn't vote for Radiohead, and that would come way too close to the kind of transparency that the Rock Hall eschews.  Nevertheless, it's another log in the discussion's fire.

So where does that leave us, and where does that leave us heading?  Well, while I refuse to discuss predictions of any kind for 2019, it is important to look at the implications for the future at large.  Once again, Troy L. Smith states it beautifully and succinctly.  This is the fourth year in a row that acts in the "classic rock" radio format ("dad-rock" as Smith puts it) has comprised at least half the Performer inductees.  With the Rock Hall, trends don't last much longer than that, but this time it may be different.  Why?  NomComm member Alan Light gets it: it's becoming a pyramid scheme of sorts that benefits classic rockers.  Now, it won't expand the number of classic rock acts that will be inducted each year; the Hall has proven pretty inflexible on that.  It may or may not cause the number of classic rock nominees to balloon further with each coming year, but again, the people in charge try to keep that number under twenty.  No, the pyramid is the number of votes that classic rock acts will receive in the coming years.  Of all the classic rock band members being inducted this year, only Benjamin Orr is deceased.  The sad truth of our society that life expectancy of Whites is currently longer than that of Blacks, coupled with the fact that most of these are bands that have had several members inducted with the band, means the number of White men who become voting members keeps growing every year.  And as Alan Light noticed too (as paraphrased by Tom Lane), the voting pool is expanding with Classic Rockers who are voting for their peers over younger nominees.  As long as there are enough classic rock bands nominated for it to be mathematically possible to literally have an all-classic-rock-bands induction class, inducted classic rock members who've become Rock Hall voters will vote for the acts who are their friends and with whom they toured--even if they're nowhere near the most worthy nominees on the ballot.  The number of votes for classic rockers will keep growing every year, in a fashion reminiscent of Pascal's triangle.

So, if there is to be any hope for diversity, any hope for quality acts that weren't classic rock to be inducted before fourth-rate, one-hit-wonder classic rock acts, the NomComm needs to determine ahead of time where they stop scraping the bottom of that barrel.  Personally, and I know this will be unpopular, I'm fine if the Hall never inducts (or even nominates) acts such as Foreigner, Kansas, Free, Fairport Convention, Red Rider, Rainbow, Golden Earring, the Ozark Mountain Devils, or even Styx.  Boston probably isn't that deserving either, but I like them enough to where I wouldn't complain if they got in.  Supertramp, I'm on the fence about.  So, there are still classic rock acts I think should probably be inducted, but I think the whole format is chafing from getting so much action over the past few years.  Here's hoping that we go a different route next go-around.

On that note, and as I've said above, I am not, repeat NOT going to engage in any discussion regarding the ballot or class for 2019.  For crying out loud, it's been less than a month since this year's inductees were announced.  Play with and cherish the toys you got this Christmas before you start nagging Santa with your wishlists for next December.  Frankly, it's a little sickening already.  So much so, that I am announcing right now that any reply in the Comments section about 2019 is going to get 86-ed.  It's not abusing my power; it's maintaining my sanity.  Not until we're halfway through July at least, m'kay?

Instead, I'm going to ask you to think about this year's inductees, and last year's, and every inductee already enshrined.  All of them.  In every category.  This year, we're going on journey together.  Stay tuned for details...  Oh, and Happy New Year's, everyone.