I just received the nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and frankly, I don’t know why I still pay attention. I feel like I’m in high school again, where rock equals classic rock, good equals dexterously talented, punk is suspicious and disco sucks. This year’s nominees: Jeff Beck, Chic, Wanda Jackson, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Metallica, Run-D.M.C., the Stooges, War and Bobby Womack. Who’ll get in? Beck (dexterity), Metallica (they rawk!), War (soul but not disco, and in their day, everybody talked about Lee Oskar’s talent, which equals dexterity) and probably Run-DMC, just to prove the Hall voters aren’t anti-hip-hop. Besides, with Aerosmith they rawked! If someone else gets in, it’ll be one of the oldies acts.
Since Metallica, Chic, Run-DMC and the Stooges affected the music that followed them, I’d vote them in. But more interesting than the ‘who goes in’ debate is what this list tells us. The only artists on that list who might be in their first year of eligibility are Metallica and Run-DMC; everyone else has been passed over before. That does call up a vision of a future in which everybody eventually gets in the Hall, as one first-time-eligible artist is surrounded by a number of musicians and bands previously deemed unworthy.
Or, the idea has always been a reinforcement/re-enactment of the Rolling Stone history of music, and the story of music as the product of great bands is reaching its natural, short-sighted conclusion.