I’m still up in the air on how to respond to the question of this post: should rock & roll, the spirit of change and youth and rebellion, honor bands in a Hall of Fame?
The Hall is also a museum. A museum of rock. But it’s not as sterile as that sounds. Music abounds, the over the top spectacles from concerts are represented and there are some intresting artifacts of, no doubt, your favorite band. My wife and I did go a couple of years after the Hall opened and spent the ENTIRE day listening and gaping. It’s worth the trip.
The organization also chooses the acts that will be inducted into the Hall. There is also an induction ceremony with speeches and music, folks getting up and jamming with the inductees. The induction ceremonies–usually held at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in NYC–ARE rock & roll. Bitter feuds, no shows, people not speaking to each other, some amazing music and above all–the most interesting and off the wall speeches.
It doesn’t get more rock & roll than Chrissie Hynde’s remarks accepting the induction for her band Pretenders. Acknowledging all the part-time players in the band over twenty years, largely due to the untimely drug-related deaths of the original guitarist and bass player, Hynde stated:
I know that the Pretenders have looked like a tribute band for the last 20 years. … And we’re paying tribute to James Honeyman Scott and Pete Farndon, without whom we wouldn’t be here. And on the other hand, without us, they might have been here, but that’s the way it works in rock ‘n’ roll.
I think the actual selection process is what most people object to when they think about the Rock Hall. Who gets to pick, what are the qualifications and why the hell didn’t you pick my favorite band? As James Montgomery of MTV mentions in a recent post about the latest rock hall nominees:
After all, any Hall of Fame that does not include among its ranks the likes of Kiss, Rush, Cheap Trick or Def Leppard (or even Joy Division, the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, the Minutemen or Black Flag, for that matter) but does include Madonna is no Hall of mine.
These type of arguments will never be totally answered, nor should they. Setting up armchair rockers like myself to go back and forth about who is and isn’t in the Hall is half the fun of having a Hall of Fame. Montgomery acknowledges that in the same post where he criticizes the Hall by spending most of his time picking the bands most likely to be inducted over the next ten years.
Of course, I’ve spent this whole post dodging the main question: should Rock & Roll even have a Hall of Fame? It’s obvious where I stand that the ancillary benefits of the hall outweigh the cheesiness and the controversies. But I’ll leave you with two distinct contradictory opinions on this–from two Hall of Fame acts–both punks, too!
On the eve of this event I asked myself many questions. Should an artist working within the revolutionary landscape of rock accept laurels from an institution? Should laurels be offered? Am I a worthy recipient? I have wrestled with these questions and my conscience leads me back to Fred and those like him — the maverick souls who may never be afforded such honors. Thus in his name I will accept with gratitude. Fred Sonic Smith was of the people, and I am none but him: one who has loved rock ’n’ roll and crawled from the ranks to the stage, to salute history and plant seeds for the erratic magic landscape of the new guard.
“Next to the Sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. Urine in wine. We’re not coming. We’re not your monkey.”