Thoughts on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

I didn’t get to see all of the festivities last night. The only induction that I missed was that of Genesis, so I’ll refrain from comment on that. I did catch Iggy and the Stooges. Not only did Iggy, as expected, extend a figurative middle finger to the suits amassed up front in the audience, he actually went among them when the band played “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog.” The look of discomfort on the faces of the industry jackasses, who wouldn’t know rock and roll if it fell on them, was priceless. Let’s just say they were a lot more comfortable later on when Faith Hill covered an ABBA song with an actually ABBA (Benny) backing her on piano. Now that is something those people understood.

Speaking of ABBA, there needs to be a new rule at these induction ceremonies; if you’re alive, breathing, and capable of performing, you either do it, of don’t bother showing up at all. And that goes for all of these bands who allow their squabbles to prevent them from reuniting for the ceremony. You know what, screw that. If you can’t put it behind you for a few minutes, and show some respect for the people who joined you on the road to this honor, then stay the hell home.

Iggy and the Stooges were great. They’re still out there touring, and you would expect them to sound road ready. The Hollies, on the other hand, not so much. Despite the fact that they were assisted by vocalists Adam Levine from Maroon Five, and Pat Monahan from Train. the performances of “Bus Stop,” and “Carrie Ann” were something of a disaster. Where is auto-tuning when you need it? Listen, the Hollies were a great band, no doubt about it. Their performance last night did nothing to enhance their reputation.

The best performance of the night came from Jimmy Cliff. The take on his classic “Many Rivers To Cross” left not a dry house on Twitter, or I suspect in the ballroom at the Waldorf. Despite the fact that he was one of the oldest inductees of the evening, he proved that he can still bring it, with an outstanding performance of “The Harder They Come,” on which he was joined by Wyclef Jean, who inducted him.

The other part of the ceremony that I loved was the induction of the great songwriters. I have no idea why it took so long to induct these people, because they wrote many of rock and roll’s most enduring classics. Carole King was the perfect choice to make the induction speech, and the honorees included Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Mort Schuman (his songwriting partner Doc Pomus was inducted in 1992), Otis Blackwell, Jesse Stone, and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The award came to late for Greenwich, who died recently, Blackwell, and Stone. Their awards were often movingly accepted by family members. Poor Jeff Barry’s flight was delayed and he couldn’t make it, so Steve Van Zandt picked up his award. I actually enjoyed the acceptance speeches, which were full of stories of the great days of Brill Building songwriting.

All in all, not a bad show at all.

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