Monday, March 14, 2011

Rock-and-Roll HOF

We came back through Cleveland after Ben's college graduation and attempted to go to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. After struggling with evening traffic to get down to the lake, we found that the HOF closes at 6PM.

If it opened at 6PM, and stayed open until 6AM, that would make more sense. The hours of operation alone disqualifies this item from being the real deal. There is plenty else to complain about, of course, and Mark Goldblatt has his go at it over at National Review Online. He includes a list of figures who have not made it in. His point is that there are political biases - not that there are hard-and-fast inclusions and exclusions based on politics, but mostly that some significantly unworthy personages have gotten in on the strength of their political notoriety rather than their talent as rockers.

Fair enough, but why choose that complaint when the entire selection process is such a target-rich environment? Rolling Stone has ruled this for years and its well-known biases show. They like black music that black people don't listen to anymore, for example. (The link does not reference R&B, which should also be included.) They like bands that tried to fuse rock with something else - anything else.

It's a fool's errand to begin with. Definitions of rock rapidly break down. The Beatles were rockers early, not only in covering classics like "Twist And Shout," but in their own "Day Tripper" or "Help!" Yet right from the start, they had plenty that was clearly not R&R: "Norwegian Wood," "Michelle," and a hundred others. If you try to go purist on rock roots, you suddenly find yourself in rockabilly in western swing instead. Coolness became the eventual standard, and coolness by the standards of only certain cool people.

And this qualified.


Der Hahn said...

Been there. My taste in music is eclectic enough that I don't have a dog in the fight over who makes it in or not. As a repository for an awfully lot of cool stuff (the Les Paul exhibit was probably the most impressive to me) it is engaging.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yeah, a Les Paul exhibit would be cool. I concede that.

Michael said...

Had the same experience coming back from one of our Chicago trips - would have definitely gone in the evening.

As for inductees, I agree with the problems with the choices. My favorite group, Genesis, was inducted last year. They had been eligible (25 years) since about 1992. I was actually surprised they got in because it was not the "type" of music that the RRHOF likes. At least it connected generations - the band that played their music at the ceremony was Phish - one of my daughter's favorite bands when she was in HS and college.

Now that Genesis has made it, it seems it is only a matter of time before they let in the likes of Peter Gabriel!