A Considered Look at Every Inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Part 13

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a place that I find, as an institution, vexing. The actual, physical hall of fame – the pyramidal building on the lake in Cleveland – is pretty cool, but it is spoken and thought of often as an intangible – as a sort of arbitrating body on the worthiness of the body of rock musicians. My thought, for many years upon surveying lists 1 and the like was to think that they have about a fifty percent success rate for getting it anything like right.

But what if it doesn’t? Previously I listened to and considered each of the best-selling albums of all time, and learned that they were considerably more of a mixed bag than I had thought 2. So what if the inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are the same sort of deal?

And so it’s time to dive in and take a look at what the nominees and their enshrinement actually are.

Click the links for Part 1,Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, and Part 12 of this series.

2008

 

The Dave Clark Five

WHO THEY ARE: A British Invasion that had, somehow, gone heretofore uninducted. 

WHY THEY’RE HERE: I think the better question is why were Herman’s Hermits left out? They were at least funny.

AND…?: I don’t actually have an opinion on the Dave Clark Five. I like their suits. Good look, that. I wish more people did stuff like it. That’s about it.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: No. Heck of a start we’re off to, here. 

Leonard Cohen

WHO HE IS: Canada’s finest songwriter not named “Young”. 

 

WHY HE’S HERE: He wrote a tonne of great songs, and although none of them were giant hits, at least one of them (“Hallelujah”) went on to great, soaring heights of popularity 3, and he pretty well established a sort of alternate-model depressive-singer-songwriter that proved to be enormously influential. He was also a Scientologist and I assume they bribed somebody or whatever. 

AND…: Oh, I love Leonard Cohen, or at least I love the Leonard Cohen that I love.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Sure

Madonna

WHO SHE IS: Oh come on, you all know who Madonna is. She was the subject of the second-highest-traffic post on this site before I changed hosts.

WHY SHE’S HERE: Because, no matter how much I think it’s a travesty of human belief, people seem to believe she’s worth vaunting.

AND…?: I hate Madonna’s music so much. Maybe on aggregate more than anyone else’s taken in purely musical terms 4

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: No

John Mellencamp

WHO HE IS: A dude from Indiana who (according to legend) used to get really upset about not getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 5

WHY HE’S HERE: Of all the not-Bruce Springsteens the world has produced, he’s one of the not-Bruce Springsteeniest, and has therefore sold a boatload of records and was willing to play ball to an absurd degree with the Powers That Used to Sell Records. So it was probably inevitable, even though I can’t imagine who would listen to his music and be in any way inspired. 

AND…?: It’s not bad, as such. I don’t know that I’ve ever bothered to quantify an opinion about John Mellencamp. I don’t actively like any of it, but it doesn’t send me from the room screaming. I liked that Van Morrison cover he did with Meshell Ndege’ocello

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: No

The Ventures

WHO THEY ARE: One of precious few instrumental bands in the HOF, and one of the first instrumental rock and roll bands full stop.

 

WHY THEY’RE HERE: They were hugely influential in ways that aren’t usually celebrated here – they used effects heavily, based their albums around concepts, and folded a bunch of different ways of playing into their music before any of those things was commonplace. They managed ot be weird as hell and still have a couple of giant hits 6. Good job, guys.

AND…?: I like the Ventures a lot, and given that a significant percentage of my music-listening free time is spent on instrumental rock music, I probably owe them some literal money or something.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes 

Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff

WHO THEY ARE: They’re the dudes that created the Philly sound.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: When you think of, say, “Me and Mrs. Jones” or “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” or “Love Train,” you’re thinking of the sounds they made in the studio. Hell of a legacy, that, and that’s leaving aside the many, many other songs they made sound awesome.

AND…?: Philly soul is like, the third or fourth best kind of soul 7. I’m happy to see them here.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Absolutely

Little Walter

WHO HE IS: There have been other people inducted who played the harmonica, certainly, but he’s the first guy to get inducted specifically for playing the harmonica.

WHY HE’S HERE: He played the hell out of that harmonica.

AND…?: I mean, he’s inducted as a sideman for playing the harmonica. I dunno, seems legit I guess.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Sure

2009

Jeff Beck

WHO HE IS: Guitar dude. He was in the Yardbirds. 

WHY HE’S HERE: He’s the guitar dude’s guitar dude. He was as mechanically talented as anyone has ever been. The fact that most of his records are awful and that he hasn’t been in a band people actually listen to for many decades appears not to matter much in this case. Guitar dude. But a bunch of people really do get super into what he does, so it would be impossible to claim he wasn’t pretty influential on a lot of the stuff that got in.

AND…?: There’s good Jeff Beck out there, and the stuff that’s good I like quite a lot, but I haven’t listened to any of it in forever, and there really isn’t that much of it. He’s got a real bad signal-to-noise ratio. 

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: I guess. He’s a heck of a guitar player. 

Little Anthony and the Imperials

WHO THEY ARE: A doo-wop group.

WHY THEY’RE HERE: So, this isn’t specifically about Little Anthony and the Imperials, but this is as good a place as any to say it. As these go on, it becomes apparent that the “big ones” have already gotten in at this point, and the voting-in body hasn’t turned over 8 enough to allow for actually-interesting stuff to be here. There are some good choices in 2009, but really this is about clearing the remaining old-timey doo-wop dudes out, and getting them in there. Whatever Little Anthony and the Imperials may have done, this isn’t about them, this is about a weird sort of past-worshipping completism that, ultimately, is what drags down all endeavors such as this one.

AND…?: They’re fine. I quite like “Tears on My Pillow” and “Take Me Back,” such as it is.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Not really

Metallica

WHO THEY ARE: 

WHY THEY’RE HERE: They are the most popular heavy metal band in history, and while heavy metal is never going to have a particularly smooth relationship with the HOF, it’s pretty undeniable that they belong there. They made great records, they sold a bunch of records 9, they’re still out there doing whatever they do for their own reasons. Pretty easy shot, honestly. 

AND…?: Some of it is genuinely terrific music, and has enriched my life immeasurably.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes

Run-DMC

WHO THEY ARE: Early-ish rappers. 

WHY THEY’RE HERE: Well, they were revolutionary to the form of hip-hop, certainly. And there were guitars on their records, so they have more to do with rock music than most other rappers. That’s something. I mean, they’re legends of their idiom, and nigh-universally beloved, and made a bunch of people want to do exactly what they were doing, so in that sense they’re here for the same reasons as a bunch of other people, they just didn’t make rock music.

AND…?: They’re fine. I think I’m on the record at this point as not really being a Run-DMC fan, but I get it, and I like some of it well enough. 

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Sure

Bobby Womack

WHO HE IS: Cleveland’s own! A hometown boy! I could have sworn he had, like, an official nickname but he does not appear to!

WHY HE’S HERE: I could’ve done the thing I did above about Little Anthony down here, but I like Bobby Womack more and he’s from Cleveland, so I’m basically just jazzed about that instead. He sang a bunch of hits, he was good at it, etc. The usual reasons. 

AND…?: He’s very good, I like his songs. Don’t know if he belongs in a Hall of Fame, but he’s good enough.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Not really

Wanda Jackson

WHO SHE IS: A recently-retired early rock and roller, notably one of the first women to be one of those.

WHY SHE’S HERE: Well, she’s in the early influencers category despite recording in the same time frame as a whole bunch of people who are inducted as performers, so she’s here for all the right reasons (she was awesome, made great music that influenced thousands, the usual), but she’s in the wrong category, and it’s real fuckin’ hard not to think that’s because she’s a woman who was largely-ignored for several decades following her period of most-frequent activity.

AND…?: Wanda Jackson is great and should be inducted as a performer.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Yes, but in the wrong category. It’s embarrassing it took them this long, also. 

Bill Black

WHO HE IS: One of the last three people (as of 2019) to be inducted as a sideman. He was Elvis’s bass player.

WHY HE’S HERE: He was Elvis’s bass player.

AND…?: He played the bass on Elvis songs. He did that pretty well, and they are pretty good. Seems pretty open and shut.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Sure

DJ Fontana

WHO HE IS: One of the last three people (as of 2019) to be inducted as a sideman. He was Elvis’s drummer.

WHY HE’S HERE: He was Elvis’s drummer.

AND…?: He played drums on Elvis songs. He did that pretty well, and they are pretty good. Seems pretty open and shut.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: Sure

Spooner Oldham

WHO HE IS: One of the last three people (as of 2019) to be inducted as a sideman. He played the organ for the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, which is what got him in.

WHY HE’S HERE: He’s inducted as a sideman, and not as a songwriter, which is fucking baffling, since I’ve never been as impressed by the organ playing on the records he played on than by the songs he wrote with Dan Penn. I’m just utterly flummoxed. 2009: the year people were inducted in the wrong category.

AND…?: I have, like, no real opinion about his organ playing. It seems fine. I’ve never listened carefully enough to notice it specifically, but it’s not like I don’t notice it. It could turn out that he was terrific, and I should think this is long-awaited and completely justified. His songs are great, though. Maybe he’ll be inducted twice.

RIGHTFULLY INDUCTED: This is the hardest call so far. I mean, he absolutely deserves a spot, but maybe not as a sideman? I dunno. I guess I say “yes,” tentatively, against the possibility that he doesn’t get in as a songwriter. 


  1. also the centerpiece of the museum itself, for those that have never been there, is a very long video encapsulating each inducted class, with clips of performances by most of them and things like that, and is generally a pretty cool thing to behold. 
  2. although they did, as you can read here and going back from there, skew toward “pretty bad” 
  3. it’s probably telling, in fact, that this is several years after “Hallelujah” got covered to death 
  4. That is to say that there are people that have made music that makes me think of how much I hate them, which I hate more than just the regular bad music that Madonna makes, but without them being terrible would not be as bad. I mean if Ted Nugent were just a regular dude and not a fucking idiot monster, I would hate his music less than Madonna’s, for example. 
  5. I think that I have heard stories about his displeasure that are separate and distinct from the stories I’ve heard about Jon Bon Jovi, but it could also be the case that I’ve lumped them together as “dudes who have the same first name as me that I don’t care about”, in which case if I have spread lies about John Mellencamp, I apologize.  
  6. historically, “Walk, Don’t Run” was a huge one, although the other one, “Telstar,” is the one that most people remember. 
  7. nobody tell Daryl Hall I said so.
     
  8. which will make this somewhat more interesting a few years from 2009 
  9. the fact that these two clauses describe two separate groups of records is not really of concern here 

A Series of Questions for the Potentially 41,000-Year-Old Nematode

 

  1. How are you?
  2. Have you had any trouble adapting your diet to a completely different planet than the one you first left? I suppose the fungi is still probably more or less the same, but phytoplankton has got to be a weird experience
  3. Are you particularly culinary-minded? How would you prefer to prepare phytoplankton to make it more like, you know, the phytoplankton that mom used to make? Again, this assumes that the fungi have changed very little
  4. One of the things that has changed in your time away is that people think about the things that they eat very differently than they used to. For example, when you went into the deep freeze, there really wasn’t any such thing as thinking about what you ate, and now there are all sorts of medical, ethical and other such academic questions. Even if you do not consider it a course worth considering, what would an ethical framework for the consumption of phytoplankton include? Are you interested in developing factory farms and such like humans have or is this going to be a purely found-food sort of arrangement? 
  5. You went into the freeze shortly before the comingling of early hominids that would mark the rise of homo sapiens, were you somehow trying to avoid the entirety of human history? If so, how does it feel to know that you missed it by such a tiny amount?
  6. Is your return in some way connected to the end of the human species? 
  7. Have you ever seen the movie The Thing?
  8. Are you familiar with the works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft? 
  9. Similar to the above, if you are presently or choose to become in the future familiar with the works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, how much of the personal life of the author and his beliefs do you intend to take into account before you decide on your feelings about the matter?
  10. Do his feelings about other people change when he turns out to be right about the presence of ancient horrors the likes of man was not meant to comprehend?
  11. Do you know consciously the name of the entity that you’ll be summoning/awakening, or is this sort of an autonomic process? That is to say, is your eventually bringing around the great terror that mankind cannot understand something you’ll be doing consciously, or is it a reflex?
  12. When whatever happens that brings about the attention of the Old One in question, will humanity be forever enslaved, or instantly obliterated?
  13. Is this going to be a sort of “everything gets eaten” situation, or an “everything just suddenly ceases to exist” situation?
  14. If the former, will the Old One in question have an opinion vis-a-vis the ethical dilemma involved in consuming food on Earth (see question 4), or is the question of consuming food on Earth going to be obviated by the Earth itself being food. This is, obviously, not a question that has an answer if there isn’t going to be any eating going on. 
  15. Is there any way for humanity to be spared, or is this pretty much just a guaranteed thing at this point? 
  16. Obviously I’ve ruled out the possibility of you being some sort of Earth-destroying parasite, because that was something you would have pulled the trigger on immediately. Would you have been insulted by such a line of questioning? 
  17. Is it, in fact, possible for a human to insult a 41,000 year old nematode/harbinger of the end times?
  18. If so, you’re a jerk. A real jerk. And I never asked your name, because I assume you’re too old to have one, since old things blah blah blah nameless horrors, but I bet your name is dumb. Ha. You have a dumb name. Dumb name nematode. Dumb nameatode. So there. 

 

NB the 41,000 year old nematode is probably not, in fact, a 41,000 year old nematode, and so most of my questions are moot. On the off chance that it’s real, though, can somebody figure out a way to get the 41,000 year old nematode to answer them? 

 

[^1]: you probably aren’t familiar with the term academic, nor with the idea of abstracting such a thing, so I will use this footnote – should I do a footnote explaining footnotes, or are you ok with footnotes? – to explain that what I mean here is that they are considered only abstractly, and have nothing to do with, say, the nutritive benefits of the food thus consumed or whatever. 

Somebody Make My Movie (Third Offer)

After the people were gone, the world remained. The people who had formerly occupied it would have been surprised at how things turned out. It took a long time, but into the structures moved the dogs. They had been in the structures, they had built their lives, their entire evolution flipped tracks onto one that was parallel to the people, so it was easy for them to develop the skills necessary to live in the houses.

It started out as straight mimicry. The dogs that were quicker started going through the rituals. The Feeding was accomplished, as was The Walking. A sort of hierarchy began to establish itself. The little dogs, the dogs that had seen the most of the human world from the inside of bags, who had been comfort animals on the planes and in the boardrooms and galleries and at the parties were the first to pick up on how to resume the world there. The little dogs became the intelligentsia, the Eloian ruling class, but there was very little division. 

The big dogs that had been raised for security were immediately retrained to follow the little dogs. There had been pockets of dog life that had relied on such synergy already, and it was natural. It was best to take on as few new things as possible and, as their power and intelligence grew, to merely adopt their new qualities into their old way of life. 

The rural dogs began to adopt the rural ways, continuing to herd and farm and hunt and provide, continuing to make food, with the help of the runners, who were willing to create the structures of a way to convey the food to the others. Something like shipping lines were established, and while the dogs were generally still unwilling to move along to engines, which were loud and unpredictable and required fuel they had no access to generally, they nudged into place, eventually gaining the intelligence to build outright, huge long gleaming rail systems to ease the burden of the pack animals. They knew what they needed, because they had always known what they needed.

The world rebuilt itself, with the dogs in charge. Eventually the set of things that they needed became more complicated and, because it’s how such things go, their language grew to accommodate it. As the complications in brain function necessary to language grew, so did the functions themselves, and with those functions, abstraction. The formerly hierarchical nature became one that was slightly more diplomatic, impelled largely by the smaller dogs, who knew that in a world that prized size and viciousness they had little chance if things changed, if the power were to become imbalanced. 

They adopted, over the course of this new development, the things that would make civilization recognizable as such. Some of the dogs began adopting currency in exchange for labor, which further abstracted the system of economic well-being – they had gone from the communal pack nature to one that, while still considerable more group-oriented than the People had commanded, still valued the family unit more than the abstract group itself. They began, in this way, to move away from direct labor into something more like an economy, which meant that the labor thus done could be done more efficiently by expedient of rewarding the efficient and the capable, and allowing people who were neither to concentrate on those areas where they were both. 

The dogs prospered, and inequality was introduced, and with it the Law, and the concept of Rules, and once again there were Good dogs and Bad dogs. They required rules to tell who was doing the work and who wasn’t, who was adequately paying for the work and who wasn’t, who was mindful of their place in the packs Great and Small and who was not. There were new niches for dogs – there were dogs that descended from the Guards, who became the police officers, who eventually guarded the prisons, there were little dogs whose long, long-ago ancestors had been Well Trained. There were prisons, there were rules about the prisons, there was rehabilitation.

It became apparent that, in addition to the efficiency, dogs now knew boredom. They were willing to do the things dogs did – to sleep, to chase, to run, but their brains were more aware of the despair of ending, there was awareness of the impermanence of the individual. This was a challenge, and it required more sophisticated distractions.

They turned to the human remnants, now even fewer than they had been. The reconstructed the arenas, they rebuilt the fields, they reconsidered the human pastimes of athletic contest. Some of them were difficult to reconstruct, but the field gave them clues. It would, then, surprise the People to know that the game that they adopted first and most vehemently was the one with the baskets. It was readily apparent how it had been played, or at least the general idea of it – there were rectangles, there were suspended hoops, there were balls.

They knew about balls. They loved balls. They had been, before all this, developed to love balls. 

With the decision of athletic contests as a way to pacify by distraction and entertainment came a new kind of dog, one that was good at bouncing the ball up into the hoop, one for whom a very specific kind of teamwork was necessary. 

Other animals did not develop such a way as this. They did not develop language or sports or an economy. The cats looked fondly on a new way to be domestic once more, to not have to do all their own hunting, and the dogs were happy to have them as com-panions, even though the cats never fully assimilated. They never really did so for People either, after all, so nothing changed. 

What was interesting was what had happened to the rest of the People. The ones who had hidden, who had spent generations growing desperate, scared and feral. They had lost the hallmarks of their civilization, they had been diminished, reduced, in terms of the ways their brains could function in the world. But they became more common. It had been how they had done this in the first place, after all, they adopted on a biological level and they became neither ape nor man, a sort of incoherent, thoughtless predator that was a nuisance to the cities that the dogs had built, that were out there as a threat. 

There was talk, after a fashion, of domesticating them. After all, for many thousands of years dogs and the once-People had cohabited. The People had built their civilization with the help of the Dog, and that was not something to be taken lightly, in a long-ago evolutionary sense. There was no real connection, but a Good dog is loyal, and they felt a sort of species-wide need to figure out a new place for the once-People in the world that the dogs had built. 

The efforts failed, generally. People turned out to be even harder to domesticate than cats. They weren’t particularly trainable. They could be taught basic tricks, and they were fairly useful on farms as a way to convey loads of wood and things, if you could keep them from getting distracted or violent. Many tried, and they became common among the rural, and among the lower-class, which dogs it behooved to make friends with so that they were not a threat to the dog families – a dog had to make a certain amount of “friendship” with them to make sure that they wouldn’t turn rapacious. 

It was from this corner, then, that a Dog had the craziest idea yet. He had gone through the effort and was an athlete, playing in the Greatest Game. He showed up, revealing that he had stumbled upon the former-human’s ability to use his hands and thumbs to throw, to shoot, to aim accurately at the nose in such a way that made it easier to score. The dogs were flummoxed, their initial reaction was to react badly, to declare the dog Mad, to do anything except think about the possibility, but the dog was insistent. He was convinced that the not-person would be the thing that could turn around the team’s then-dismal fortunes. He insisted, and it was brought before the Rules.  

But it turned out there was nothing in the rules that said a former person couldn’t play basketball.

Coming this summer to theaters near you, Bud Air: The Former Human that Played Basketball

The Best Songs of the First Half of 2019

So here, as previously addressed, is the list of the best songs of the first half of the year. For a second time, I didn’t have time to get in there and write some stuff about them, but luckily I can take the high ground and insist that this stuff speaks for itself I guess? Anyway, I may come back and fill some of this in later, but if I don’t, thanks for bearing with me. 

Anyway, there’s a tonne of good stuff here! There have been some fairly disappointing records in the first half of the year, but that doesn’t always bear out on the songs list. There’s a Spotify thingy here or at the bottom (I hope), and a download folder here. The Spotify thingy has a different Mandolin Orange song (“Little Margaret” was a bonus track, but “Into the Sun” is a great song anyway, so I just swapped it out). drink up everybody.

Anderson.Paak – Come Home (f Andre 3000)

Beast Coast – Left Hand

Big Brave – Sibling

Heather Woods Broderick – Quicksand

Bill Callahan – What Comes After Certainty

Coathangers – Bimbo

Cocaine Piss – Body Euphoria

The Comet is Coming – Summon the Fire

Cuzco – Old Dog

Dos Monos – Clean Ya Nerves (Cleopatra)

Ryan Dugre – Bali

Earth – Cats on the Briar

Ex Hex – Tough Enough

Fennesz – We Trigger the Sun

Fire! Orchestra – Silver Trees

The Gotobeds – On Loan

Heart Attack Man – Rats in a Bucket

Tim Hecker – That World

Helms Alee – Be Rad Tomorrow

House and Land – Blacksmith

Carly Rae Jepsen – No Drug Like Me

Seba Kaapstaad – Breathe

Mike Krol – Little Drama

Steve Lacy – Guide

Alex Lahey – Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

Lambchop – The December-ish You

Mandolin Orange – Little Margaret

The Mekons – How Many Stars

Mono – Meet Us Where the Night Ends

Bob Mould – Lost Faith

Georgia Anne Muldrow – When the Fonk Radiates

Marissa Nadler – Poison (f John Cale)

Pelican – Full Moon, Black Water

Pirate Ship Quintet – Symmetry is Dead

Priests – Good Time Charlie

Quelle Chris – Guns

Raketkanon – Harry

Rodrigo y Gabriela – Cumbe

Scrolls – Patiently…

Signor Benedick the Moor – OMG

Slowthai – Doorman (f Mura Masa)

Solange – Almeda

Sunn0))) – Aurora

The Tallest Man on Earth – I’m a Stranger Now

Teeth of the Sea – Visitor

Tyler, the Creator – New Magic Wand

William Tyler – Our Lady of the Desert (f Bill Frissell)

Underachievers – Deebo

Chester Watson – Flights (f Kesari)

Xiu Xiu – Normal Love

Honorable Mentions: Big Business – Let Them Grind, Chris Brokaw – His Walking, Lavender Country – Gay Bar Blues, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana, Nowdaze – Ooh Wee, Schoolboy Q – Numb Numb Juice, Oozing Wound – Tween Shitbag

Best Albums of June 2019

Hey guys, the best songs of the first half of the year post is coming up later in the week – stuff has been pretty crazy, and it’ll be devoid of the usual writeups 1, but it’ll be up. I hope you can all forgive me. Anyway these are the best records from this month.

Bill Callahan – Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest (I’m on the record as being in favor of a long wait if it means we get a record this good. Gosh darn this is a wonderful record.)

Shellac – The End of Radio (Shellac is a top-shelf grade-a rock band, and live Shellac is the best version of Shellac. Well-recorded live Shellac, hen, is about the best on-record experience one could hope for)

House and Land – Across the Field (a former member of Pelt and another lady whose credits I should, but don’t, remember make a crazy weird drone-folk record that would be the top record of any other given month)

Pelican – Nighttime Stories (it has recently come to my attention that there are people that do not love Pelican. I do not understand these people.) 

Georgia Anne Muldrew – VWETO II (she makes great singing records, but even better not-singing records, I tell you what.) 


  1. come to think of it, that was the case of the last one also. I guess every six months I’m due a time-eating event these days. Ah, the future.