Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kickin' Em Out: 1990

You're right, Bobby. It's not me. It's you.

Try as your smiling eyes might, nothing can convince me that you belong in the Hall.

Let's start with the two most important criteria:
Is Bobby Darin rock? No.
Is Bobby Darin roll? No.

The beginning of his career was spent in the Brill Building, banging out safe, teen-approved songs. Going solo produced more of the same: poppy, tuneful ditties that were, quite literally, scrubbed of the grit that his contemporaries — such as renowned creepster and true rock pioneer Chuck Berry, hipster-template and belt-it-out god Buddy Holly, and boozers The Champs of "Tequila" fame — left on. Click for Exhibit A.

Darin followed "Splish Splash" with the truly great blockbuster song "Dream Lover," which gave millions of girlfans hope that perhaps the idol spent his nights at home hugging his pillow and staring wistfully out the window, too. It also inspired, by my unofficial count, one custard-marshmallow cream-chocolate sauce-and-pecan sundae at a Midwestern scoop shop.

And then, inevitably, given his silky voice and charming good looks, Darin devolved into a lounge act, recording standards such as "Mack the Knife" and shuffleboard-and-nightly buffet aficionado favorite "Beyond the Sea."

Clearly, Darin was swingin' with the best of 'em in the early '60s. But, crucially, he WAS NOT ROCKING. Perhaps the most rock and roll thing Darin ever did was mentor The Byrds' founder Roger McGuinn. And do lines off of lido girls with Sammy Davis, Jr. (unverified, but completely possible). Seriously, Paul freakin' Anka inducted him into the Hall. That alone is enough to rest my case.

Hank Ballard
Bobby Darin (Chesty McGee)
The Four Seasons
Four Tops
The Kinks
The Platters
Simon and Garfunkel

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