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Musical Space

Musical Space: The Hall Of Fame


The annual fuss about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is upon us, as the 15 nominees for 2019 induction have been announced. But this is not going to be a piece about who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame; hoards of internet trolls, music bloggers and Ted Nugent have all been screaming about this enough. I have nothing against this year’s nominees - in fact, I like almost all of them. But what does it do to music when we put it in a museum?

It’s a noble sentiment-- the Hall of Fame is conferring a timeless honor, acknowledging excellence, and seeking to define that which is classic. But the irony is palpable. Here is a group trying to legitimize a style that traffics in illegitimacy, to set apart as sacrosanct music that is sold as profane. The irony is that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the type of institution that rock musicians made their careers rebelling against. The very idea of the word “Classic” makes classic rock a thing of the past. Rock and Roll, voice of anti-establishment youth, is now old and very much established.

But the quandary is that I love rock. The only thing I can come up with is to make fun of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while simultaneously honoring the artists it inducts.

The final list of 5 inductees will be revealed some time in December, and the general public has a say in who wins: fans can vote until December 9 in person at the museum or at Rockhall.com/vote.

(Music: Todd Rundgren:
Nazz, “Open My Eyes,” Nazz (1968)
Monkees-esque psychedelic pop. Listen to the flange effect)

The Candidates

  •  Def  Leppard
  •  Devo
  •  Janet Jackson
  •  John Prine
  •  Kraftwerk
  •  LL Cool J
  •  MC5
  •  Radiohead
  •  Rage Against the Machine
  •  Roxy Music
  •  Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
  •  Stevie Nicks
  •  The Cure
  •  The Zombies
  •  Todd Rundgren

Listening List

Note: I’m not going to list Radiohead because they’re my favorite band and I’ve spouted on about them enough already.

These are all from early albums by some of this year’s nominees:

MC5, “Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa),” Kick Out The Jams (1968)
Formed in 1964, one of the most anti-establishment bands I can think of. Took Anti-Vietnam War protest and carried it into the pre-punk era. Garage punk that predates fellow Detroit punk Iggy Pop.

John Prine, “Paradise,” John Prine (1971)
Sure, it’s actually a country song, but if it qualifies for the R&RHOF, it qualifies for me, too.
First song recorded by John Prine.

Roxy Music, “Remake/Remodel,” Roxy Music (1972)
Proof that iconoclasm can be arty.

Kraftwerk, “Ruckzuck,” Kraftwerk (1970)
Earliest release of the band, example of Krautrock, “jammy”use of flute.

Rufus, “Whoever’s Thrilling You (Is Killing Me) (Allen Toussaint),” Rufus (1973)
Chaka Khan was 19 when she recorded this


LL Cool J, “I Need a Beat,” (released as a single, 1984)
He recorded this himself
Got the attention of Ric Ruben, was released on Def Jam, helped put that label on the map.