Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hello, Cleveland!!

Bernie rocks!
Okay, so the title is not all that original, but I am not going to promise a religious experience here.

So my good friend says "Hey... I have this BLOG I'd like you to contribute to. Would you be interested?"

I reply with "Absolutely!", so he sends me the credentials, I check it out... and I promptly forget about it.

Actually, that's not fair. I didn't "forget" as in "what the hell are you talking about", I forgot as in "I am so swamped with non-fun ACTUAL work that I won't be able to rectify having fun writing something that might be a lightning rod for a lot of viewers." Now, the day before Thanksgiving, I find myself with a little time, so I thought, what better time to write an inaugural entry for Cleveland Does Not Rock?

That being said, here's what I have to say: There are some great members enshrined in The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, but there are a lot of "I wouldn't have let you in even if you had a ticket" members that just boggle my mind.

Let's look at it this way... this place in Cleveland, Ohio is called The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, right? So what are the key phrases there? Rock 'n' Roll and Hall of Fame. Since the second phrase is the easier of the two to explain, let's tackle that first.

To me, a "hall of fame" is a special place where luminaries in a specific (remember that word, kids... it comes up later) field are put on pedestals for the world to respect. It's a grouping of individuals who are commonly considered to be "the best" in that specific field... not just people who did it, but people who did it better than anyone else.

"Rock 'n' Roll" is a bit more complex, but we're going to skip over most of the history of this genre and just give it a quick definition to get on with the rest of the entry (I tend to run on at the mouth... or fingers... sometimes): "Rock 'n' Roll" is a genre of music that features at least one rhythm guitar, usually at least one bass (sometimes upright, mostly guitar), and at least one drummer.

Sure, there are examples with other percussion instruments (piano, tambourine), stringed instruments (violins, violas, or fiddles), harmonicas, and, in some cases, interesting choices such as bagpipes (seriously... check out AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)"). The genre is defined with specific beats and rhythms, so musically, there is a big difference between "hard rock" and "heavy metal" or "folk rock" and "adult contemporary" or "KISS" and "Disco KISS."

Does Disco KISS still count as KISS?
I bring these terms up because when I look at the list of those housed in Cleveland, I wonder who was thinking what when James Brown was inducted. Don't get me wrong, I love me some James Brown, but allow me this trivia question for you: What is James Brown's pseudo-religious nickname? If you answered "The Godfather of SOUL", then you are correct. I see a distinct difference between soul music and rock 'n' roll.

Chuck Berry? Absolutely, positively rock 'n' roll. Elvis? 100% rock 'n' roll. B.B. King? Muddy Waters? John Lee Hooker? No way! They were legendary BLUES musicians! I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy Sunday than sitting down with a beer in my hand, B.B. wailing in the background... but that ain't rock 'n' roll, folks!

Michael Jackson was inducted in 2001. The King of POP.
Parliament-FUNKadelic was inducted in 1997.
Bob Marley was inducted in 1994. Seriously? Reggae Jesus?
Miles F*cking Davis in 2006... can you get any more brilliant and JAZZY than Miles?
Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five in 2007.
Run-D.M.C. in 2009.
Christ... ABBA?! ABBA?!? in 2010!

Look... I have nothing against ABBA... truth-be-told, I actually like their music, but they are as much rock 'n' roll as I am a rock. They were the flag-bearers of disco, but they would never be associated with rock 'n' roll, would they?

A little bit of the ol' Ludwig van?
I am not opposed to another (or several other) hall of fame(s) opening that encompasses "popular music", but rock 'n' roll is specific! Just like we won't ever see Black Sabbath enshrined in The Rap Hall of Fame, why are Eric B. and Rakim going to Cleveland in 2012? Why not a posthumous induction for Ludwig van Beethoven because his 5th symphony was covered by many a talented rock guitarist?

So tell me... what argument is made for inducting James Taylor or Simon and Garfunkel?

I guess, as I listen to The Foo Fighters' "Stacked Actors" while typing this, I just don't get what the criteria is.

Whatever it is, someone needs to tighten it up... or at least rename the hall of fame to something a little less specific.

No comments:

Post a Comment