The Rock Hall Induction likes itself a lot now

Of course Joan Jett and Bill Withers and the three guys in Green Day — Billie Joe Armstrong front-man loquacious but Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool equally worthy and chatty — were proud as hell to be up there accepting their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

So, too, were Stevie Ray Vaughan’s brother Jimmy, those still here from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and all the family members representing the 5 Royales.

And Ringo Starr, the last Beatle to be brought in on an individual basis, was positively beaming as Paul McCartney welcomed his in for his Participation Award to close the evening, as shown to the world Sunday night in the three-hour HBO special that’s become an annual rite of rock passage.

Click on a photo for a description. Click twice on the bottom photo for an enlarged slide show. Photos from my flat screen.

My favorite moment, though, was Laurie Anderson’s acceptance speech for Lou Reed, the feisty one who was her partner for 21 years. Reed was a New York guy with a Syracuse connection, on my radar from the time I was a New York kid playing Sweet Jane on my turntable and advancing to Walk on the Wild Side. He stayed in my heart when I moved to Syracuse when I was 25 and became more aware that he’d gone to college up on the hill and dug the stories of teachers including Raymond Carver. He became even more important when I became the music writer and critic for the big daily when I was 33 and started meeting and talking to people who knew him when.

I was shaken when Reed died in October 2013, and I was teary at Anderson’s beautiful speech at the podium to remember her sweet man. Lou Reed had performed some of his favorite yoga poses before taking his last breath in her arms. Lou Reed was tough as nails but never cynical. Lou Reed told her they should have three rules to live by: Don’t be afraid of anyone. Get a really good bullshit detector and use it. Be really tender.

And there we had the one naturally occurring swear word that I thought bore repeating here.

It was part of the most endearing moment of this year’s event.

The music was cool, from Joan Jett ripping out Bad Reputation to Stevie Wonder’s loving work on Bill Withers’ classics including the forever fantastically rhythmic Use Me with Withers not wishing to play or sing but at his side nonetheless to Green Day’s powerful punk anthem performance of American Idiot and When I Come Around.

The country blues and blues jams that included the Butterfield gang and Zac Brown and Double Trouble with Jimmy Vaughan and Guy Clark Jr. and John Mayer were notable mash-ups.

Karen O and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs led off the salute to Lou Reed, but it was the combo of Beck and Nate Ruess of Fun that truly took it home in style.

Ringo Starr brought plenty of friends out, including McCartney at his side on bass, for his closing musical medley, and who wouldn’t want to see the only two remaining Beatles playing together side by side? Yet what I liked best about this segment was the introductory clip that featured a handful of today’s best drummers demonstrating the runs and style that makes Ringo one of the best behind the kit. Who knew? They explained his simple genius in a fan’s terms. Beautiful to see and hear.

McCartney’s introduction of his friend was warm and humorous.

At the front of the show, though, Myley Cyrus was foul-mouthed and obnoxious as she introduced Jett. I want to like Billy Ray’s daughter for her independent streak, I really do. But must you drop the profanity and wear the do-anything-you-want-flag every time? I know, Joan’s a rebel, I get it. But I always felt like Joan had a cause other than sheer rebelliousness. Maybe I’m just old.

Speaking of which, some of the other folks up there after her cracking profane just looked ancient, trying to uphold some rock badge of honor. I wasn’t taking down their names, so Cyrus remains my easy and obvious target. I do recall that Jann Wenner, the publisher of Rolling Stone magazine and chairman of the Rock Hall seemed mighty satisfied while giving his state of the union speech.

The museum in Cleveland is great. I’ve been. I agree. The people seemed glad to be an arena in that city instead of New York. The special on HBO will draw in rock fans, devoted and curious. Good, all. Now let’s get a good class for 2016.

Did you or will you watch the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction special? Who’s your favorite from this year’s class and why? Is swearing OK in rock or not, and why?

53 thoughts on “The Rock Hall Induction likes itself a lot now

  1. So awesome that Joan Jett and Green Day are being inducted. I’m huge fans of both of those bands. Yes, swearing should absolutely be a part of rock n’ roll! It was made to be dirty!


  2. Gosh, Mark, the HBO special comes out later than the actual induction. I posted about Joan Jett, Lou Reed’s love and other details when I was informed about it through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame newsletter and Cleveland Plain Dealer. I did not have a chance to go, though. I also remember we all got teary-eyed about Lou Reed’s passing last Fall. This was sudden and so strange, too. I am glad you mentioned Lou Reed’s three ‘rules,’ too. Ones that are well worth repeating!
    The HBO production sounded like it didn’t edit out any swearing and it proceeded as described in news. I will have to see this, hoping someday they will get it at the library. I don’t buy the HBO or movie channels, Mark. I miss out on all the BEST fun! I am so glad you gave us the ‘whole scoop’ and it made me want to see it even more than when I read about it. Your post was full of fantastic details with great description!


  3. I just really have to like something (song/band/performer) to want to see it live. I used to go to concerts a lot, and I’ve been to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, but I’m just not into live music and awards anymore. As for live music, I can’t turn it down, and I can’t stop it if I’ve had enough. As for awards, really, 3-5 hours is too long for all the CRAP that comes with it. I dunno, time and hearing seem a lot more precious now. lol
    Miley is annoying and too lewd for me, does her tongue have an off switch? are pants merely a suggestion? but she’s massively talented.
    I don’t mind swearing, ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still love concerts, Joey, but I am reaching the point where I get a little squirmy if I feel things are going a bit tooooo looooong. Except for Springsteen. He can play all night, still. But that’s just me.

      I’m not against swearing at face value, just … because you can and you wanna and it’s every sentence? My friend Phil commented earlier here that I’m showing my age on this point. I don’t know if it’s age or what. I just don’t need to hear it for the sake of using it. I’d rather it be used judiciously to make a point, I guess.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I didn’t see this, Mark, but it looks awesome. Miley Cyrus introduced Joan Jett? Really? Oi. I like Beck a lot. I would have liked to have seen that mash up!


  5. “Lou Reed was tough as nails but never cynical. Lou Reed told her they should have three rules to live by: Don’t be afraid of anyone. Get a really good bullshit detector and use it. Be really tender.” <- Love this, Mark. I've never watched, I'm not much of an awards show fan. But I'll read about it and catch a few clips (Joan Jett, not Cyrus) so I'm glad for your post. Thanks!


  6. A very worthy list of inductees this year. From the clips I have seen, it was a brilliant night of music. I’m all for creative control and empowerment, but Miley Cyrus is a nickel skank, to put it nicely. I cannot believe they couldn’t find an artist deserving of introducing the nominee. God help country music, when that chick comes over here to roost. They will long for the days of bro country.


  7. Love your review, Mark! I did see Green Day a couple of days before the induction with my son. They’re one of his favorite bands, and it was a surprise 15th birthday present. Haven’t been to the Rock Hall in quite a while – I work so close, and I’m always downtown, so I guess I take it for granted. It’s a great place to visit with out of town guests, though.


    • I know how that is, taking in-town places for granted. When I lived so close to Washington, D.C., the only time I went to the monuments and memorials was to guide my visiting family and friends, just as you mention with the Rock Hall.

      I love that your 15-year-old is a Green Day fan, Kelly. I’m very into cross-generational music lineage, as I think you know from our commenting on each other’s posts. πŸ™‚ Have a great day, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. So, being from Cleveland, I am always happy to see people visit:). I grew up there. But, I must say, the Hall was not so great when it first opened and I’ve not been back since. You’re making me rethink that!


  9. The highlight for me was Joan Jett’s acceptance sppeech–who laid out the case for rock and roll as a means of both protest and as a home for those shunted from the mainstream. Her set was great–the amazing rendition of Crimson and Clover with the songwriter Tommy James (of Shondells fame), Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Miley Cyrus–who did not embarrass herself on vocals. It was also cool when one of the guys from her backing band The Blackhearts mentioned that his 13 year old daughter wasn’t impressed with the HoF and only wondered if her dad could help her meet faux rapper Iggy Azalea. He replied that in his world there is only one Iggy–Iggy Pop!

    Also–you mentioned the great performance by Zac Brown on the Paul Butterfield tribute–you forgot that he was working alongside Tom Morello–who killed it, as usual.

    As for the swearing and Miley Cyrus–yeah Mark, I would say the age thing is showing its face.


  10. I have always been perplexed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The artists and acts who get in and those who get left out in the cold make even the Baseball Hall of Fame membership look sensible. Miley Cyrus shouldn’t be allowed within a certain number of miles of any induction ceremony… at least not while she’s going through her immature bratty phase that made Britney Spears so obnoxious a decade ago.

    Wake me up when Weird Al gets in. And I’m serious, he’s my favorite HoF snub….


    • You should be serious. Al serously has produced 50 great songs. I know, they’re copycats, but he’s so freaking clever. The falutin’ panel will never, ever put him in, I think, Bill.


      • Yes, that’s what I think as well. Over three decades of genius, basically owning his genre, doing something that actually takes more talent than regular songwriting… and essentially becoming a status symbol for up and coming artists who know they’ve made it big when Weird Al has parodied one of their songs. I at least hope he would be given more consideration than Miss Wrecking Ball would…


    • MDW Karen and I have only gone once, too, Carrie, on a day trip from Syracuse when we also squeezed in an Indians game at the Jake (when it was still called that) that night. So another trip is warranted for us as well. There’s so much to see, and they’re always bringing in new exhibits. I remember how excited I was to see hand-drawn art from Jimi Hendrix as well as sitting in the theater to experience his smoking video. … Now you have me dreaming!


  11. I didn’t watch it so thanks for sharing this. Thanks too for reminding me about Sweet Jane, can hear it in my head now, had forgotten how much I liked Lou Reed. I remember seeing Joan Jett as an opening act for Cheap Trick and The Ramones- wow now I am really dating myself!


  12. Swearing doesn’t normally bother me….but if it’s being used constantly as a manner of speak it isn’t showing rebelliousness it’s showing a weak attempt at rebelliousness. It means nothing other than you can cuss. Got it. It’s what you’re saying when your cussing that matters and if people only walk away remembering the cussing and not your content….what was the point? πŸ˜€

    I’d like to watch this, at some point. Maybe for a rainy night or snowy day!!!! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.