On March 14, 2005 the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame will induct The Pretenders, U2, the O'Jays, Buddy Guy, and Percy Sledge.
The very concept of a Hall of Fame for rock or any music is suspect; how can you quantify music? It's like the Rolling Stone list of the top 500 songs. What makes "Hey Jude" necessarily better than "Soul Man"? What makes "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" a better song than "Once In A Lifetime"?
The same goes for musicians and singers. Are the Pretenders, who get the nod, really better than Patti Smith, who was nominated, but not voted in? The Pretenders sold more records, but Patti Smith gets more mentions in rock history books. One could argue they both belong in there, and Patti will get in sooner or later, or the whole thing is a farce.
Are the O'Jays (in) really that much better than the Ohio Players (out, not even nominated)? Grandmaster Flash locked out, but Percy Sledge in? And what to do about Randy Newman? Sure, he's no more "rock" than the O'Jays or Percy Sledge albeit in a different way. But weren't his 70's albums supposed to be "seminal"? Don't all those Oscar nominations count for something? And what's up with Lynyrd Skynyrd? After all the times the 10-minute "Free Bird" has been sat through, often willingly, why can't they finally get some recognition? What'll it take, a plane crash to get the voters' attention? And didn't Gram Parsons, as vital to rock history as Patti Smith, just get a movie made about his short life, 30 years after it ended?
It's all silly. It's really just a fancy mausoleum, after all. But I won't be a curmudgeon and insult the whole thing. Visitors to the Hall of Fame in Cleveland seem to enjoy it; if they learn something about rock from the experience, all the better. It might be a Rolling Stone vision of rock, with a 25-year time delay. But why shouldn't Buddy Guy get a special day? Or the O'Jays, or the Pretenders? 100 years from now, people are going to need a little guidance. If the Hall can do that, well then, swell.