The Pencil Today:


“Rock and roll music, the music of freedom, frightens people and unleashes all manner of conservative defense mechanisms.” — Salman Rushdie


I’ve no doubt the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a fine bunch of lads, serious about their music, and ambitious.

I’m also certain that their fans listen to them late into the night on their iPods and other mp3 devices, and are transported to that special place that only music can take them to.

But are they really Rock and Roll Hall of Famers?

Same question for Guns ‘N Roses.

Guns N’ Roses

Where, I wonder, is the cut off? Who’s the singer/songwriter or band that is fairly good but not quite transcendent enough to be included in the pantheon?

Does anyone even take this the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seriously?

Apparently, not everyone. Axl Rose and Rod Stewart decided being enshrined in this Valhalla wasn’t worth even hopping a plane into Cleveland to participate in the festivities Sunday night.

The following bands, solo acts, sidemen, and execs made up the 2012 induction list:

  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Donovan
  • Laura Nyro
  • The Small Faces/Faces

Small Faces

  • Beastie Boys
  • The Crickets
  • The Famous Flames
  • The Midnighters
  • The Comets

The Comets (Standing)

  • The Blue Caps
  • The Miracles
  • Freddie King
  • Don Kirschner
  • Cosimo Matassa
  • Tom Dowd
  • Glyn Johns

By my calculations, that’s a grand total of 69 people earning the highest honor, presumably, that can be bestowed upon a rock and roll artist.

Again, that’s 69 people. In one single year.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as of today is bursting at the seams with more than 700 people being given a bust or a plaque or whatever they do at the place to show that the honorees are truly and honestly one-of-a-kind.

Trust me on this — I counted the names and, while I suppose I skipped some and probably double-counted others, I’ll bet the deed to Chez Big Mike that the +700 figure is correct.

Among the honorees since inductions began 26 years ago are Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, ABBA, Miles Davis, Brenda Lee, the Staples Singers, the Bee Gees, Elton John, Johnny Cash, Bobby Darin, and Ray Charles, the lot of which proves that the term rock and roll has absolutely no meaning at all.

The only people missing from the RNR HoF are the likes of Mantovani, Styx, Bread, Vanilla Ice, Jessica Simpson, Susan Boyle, and Paris Hilton (yes, she recorded an album.)

I am certain Justin Bieber one day will be welcomed into the hallowed hall.

Of course, I’m exaggerating by dragging Styx and Susan Boyle into this thing. It’s really not that any of the aforementioned RNR HoF-ers are necessarily bad or untalented. (Although I’m deadly serious about Justine Bieber being inducted one day.)

It’s just that the whole exercise seems to me to be a Baby Boomer celebration of self. If the Boomers heard it, then it was rock and roll. If you’d made a recording at any time after World War II, you’re a rock and roller and and we have a special palace for you, designed by I.M. Pei and costing $22 to visit.

The Shrine

The name of the place shouldn’t be the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum but The Stuff We Listened To (Because We Grew Our Hair Long And Changed The World And Invented Sex And Were The First People Ever To Have Kids) Hall of Fame.

It’s little wonder why succeeding generations loathe the Boomers.

I’m a Boomer and I loathe us.


As long as I’m on the topic, here’s my list of some of the worst RNR-era songs of all time:

We Built This City, The Starship — Clearly, by the time this song hit the charts hallucinogens had turned the members of the original Jefferson Airplane into soulless, empty shells.

I Will Do Anything for Love, Meat Loaf — Yes, it’s a bad song but I include it here mainly because one critic wrote of him: “This is the man who acted like he was playing Zeppelin but was singing Cher.”

Cher Lite

Believe, Cher — My late pal Tim said this song was played every night in every gay bar in every city in the world since it was released; he added that if he heard it one more time, he’d take hostages.

Sussudio, Phil Collins — This man defined the 80s almost as much as Ronald Reagan did. And that ain’t good.

Kokomo, The Beach Boys — Brian Wilson was a genius but when he left the Beach Boys they became right wing tools and more boring than being in a coma.

Mickey, Toni Basil — Cheerleaders? At least she was in “Village of the Giants.”

Babe, Styx — The ferryman Charon escorted the souls of the dead down the river Styx to the underworld of Greek mythology, also known as Hades. Or, as we refer to it, hell.

Heart of Rock and Roll, Huey Lewis & the News — How many weddings do you think this was played at?

(Man, this is fun!)

Ebony and Ivory, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney — And…

Say, Say, Say, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney — My least favorite Beatle. Clearly, John Lennon had a beneficial effect on Paul. Pairing him up with MJ and Stevie only brought out the excess saccharin in both parties, leaving a bitter taste in the listener’s mouth.

Critical Mass

Afternoon Delight, Starland Vocal Band — So, it’s a song about getting laid between the hours of noon and six — problem is, it’s neither sexy nor romantic. It’s more like an iced tea mix jingle.

Feelings, Morris Alpert — Insulin, stat!

Winchester Cathedral, The New Vaudeville Band — Dig this: The Beatles released the “Revolver” album in 1966 featuring such amazing songs as “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which might have been the first psychedelic hit and included George Harrison’s overdubbed, backward-tracking guitar work. And the Beach Boys released the single “Good Vibrations,” a follow-up to the “Pet Sounds” album and Brian Wilson’s answer to the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul.” “Good Vibrations” was described as a “pocket symphony” and could be called the first progressive rock song. But this lump of fewmets won the Grammy award for Best Rock and Roll Recording. That’s downright weird.

Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree, Tony Orlando & Dawn — Duh.

We Are the World, USA for Africa — If only an asteroid would hit it.

Target: Earth

Whoomp! (There It Is), Tag Team — This song ruined just about every sporting event throughout the 90s.

Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler — Oh, shut up.

You Light Up My Life, Debby Boone — One question for right wingers like Pat Boone: What’s wrong with birth control?

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), The Proclaimers — What in the holy hell does haverin‘ mean?

Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus — When I first heard this, I though this man couldn’t possibly create anything that could make the country suffer more terribly — then he sired Miley.

MMM-Bop, Hanson — Every time I saw this video, all I could think of were all the really creepy old men watching it too.

Convoy, C.W. McCall — Thankfully, no one ever made a hit song about Pet Rocks or Rubik’s Cube or an annoying dance step…, oh, wait….

Macarena, Los Del Rio

I’m Too Sexy, Right Said Fred — Um, er, uh….

Too Sexy?

U Can’t Touch This, MC Hammer — Took a cool Rick James riff and spoiled it.

My Humps, Black Eyed Peas — These people are just wrong.

Morning Train, Sheena Easton — She hit it big with this suburban housewife anthem and then got splashed with Prince luv and became a bad little girl. She has “taken a break from recording” of late.

The Candy Man, Sammy Davis Jr. — Diabetes.

Can I Touch You… There?, Michael Bolton — Ick, no!

I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston — F. Murray Abraham once did a dead-on impression of Whitney singing this song on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.”

If You Could Read My Mind, Gordon Lightfoot — This man could have been an anesthesiologist and never would have had to use a drug.

Okay, your turn. Either throw in some songs I haven’t thought of or tell me how wrong I am.

One thought on “The Pencil Today:

  1. rehctaw says:

    You’ll need a galaxy more electrons to encompass the breadth of catchy, but horribly bad songs and/or acts that have briefly amused the masses with their ditties. I suppose the upside is that you needn’t much worry about depth.
    There’s only a RnR Hall of Fame because somebody figured they could make a buck off of the rubes (and other purely selfish, egotistical purpose. i.e. getting laid, do good drugs, big house, lotsa bling…party like a rock star).
    This country’s obsession with awards and awardees is testament to our rugged- individualistic herd mentality, to our conditioning and to pure P.T. Barnum salesmanship. These are our wealth generating industries into which all value and worth are imputed.

    It’s a mixed-up, fucked-up, shook up world Mikey…. Except for Lola.

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