Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2014

Finally found a few hours to watch the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction show on HBO and saw the usual mix of moments we expect from high end awards shows: touching tributes, reminders of history and some controversy. Of course the icing on the cake is a lot of great music.

One of the surprises of the night was the high quality of the presenters. Each of them had insightful and heartfelt remembrances of how the performers had influenced them, the music world and our lives. Glenn Frey on how Linda Ronstadt created “country rock” and gave The Eagles their start.  Tom Morello on how KISS was more than just theatrics. Art Garfunkel on how Cat Stevens’ songs were “a fascinating creation of an evolving identity.”  Quest Love on how if you owned a radio in the 1970s and 80s “you got a full dose of Hall & Oates.” Bruce Springsteen offering chapter and verse about how The E Street Band was created: “The real bands are made from the neighborhoods, from a real time and a real place.” Michael Stipe on how Nirvana captured lightning in a bottle and set off a “howl” of protest for all the outsiders. Each one of these is worth reading or watching.

The music highlights began with the opening tribute for Linda Ronstadt which required a five-female salute to do her justice. As good as Carrie Underwood, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow and Stevie Nicks covering Blue Bayou, It’s So Easy and When Will  I Be Loved, you were reminded that Linda made that magic all by herself.

Cat Stevens had the audience in the palm of his hand as he reprised his sweet ballads and one of the all-time break-up songs, “Wild World.”  At the other end of that love-sick spectrum came the still rocking Daryl Hall and John Oates, whose “She’s Gone” may be the most played song ever to hit top 40 radio.

Bruce, inducted 16 years ago, was pleased to even things up for the E-Streeters, “who told a story that was and is bigger than I ever could have told on my own.” They went  way back to perform Tenth Ave Freeze Out, E Street Shuffle and Kitty’s Back in Town.

David Grohl and Krist Novoselic were joined by Joan Jett for Smells Like Teen Spirit as part of the Nirvana set.

The controversy for the Cleveland-based Hall is over who gets in and who doesn’t (and when it happens). KISS has been the poster child for this unfairness after 40 years, 100 million albums and 28 gold records in the U.S. Linda was long overdue and Daryl Hall asked why they are the first and only Philly musicians to be inducted. “Why not Chubby Checker?” he asked, “The Twist is the biggest selling record of all time.” Novoselic asked why Jett was still not in.

Beside the In Memoriam segment, the sad notes came when family members were there to accept the awards for Clarence Clemons, Danny Federici and Curt Cobain.

The overstuffed telecast had its rewarding moments. Linda Ronstadt on Johnny Carson saying if she weren’t singing she would be milking cows or selling hot dogs because “I don’t know how to do anything else.”

Steve Van Zandt’s acceptance speech: “For those of us whose religion is rock and roll, this is the one day a year we get to say Thanks.”

And finally the irony of the line that Cat Stevens wrote back in the early 70’s:
“Look at me. I am old. But I am happy.”


  1. Nice review. We though Garfunkle's induction of Cat was very nicely done. Highlight for us though was the Boss and the E Street jam! Wow!!

  2. I didn't see the show but it sounds pleasant. It's so nice to see Cat Stevens back making music once again.