The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: cool as all hell

We’re joined today by an old friend and new voice to the blog, Philip DeSouza. He can currently be found working at an all-vegan fried tofu and korean BBQ food truck somewhere north of the Danforth.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is cool as all hell. They’re awesome. smart folks who know rock. Look at this year’s entries: the Beastie Boys and Guns n Roses. That’s not just an awesome double bill, that’s something that Chuck Klosterman will froth at the mouth over as he ironically listens to a Whitensnake album and drinks Mountain Dew cut with SoCo. It’s got me so fuckin’ stocked I just can’t handle it, man. It’s so cool because it’s the worst choices they could have literally made, which is exactly the kind of thing I expect from old rock critics.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an idea spat out of Jann Wenner’s brain. That’s a name from back in the 70s, when he edited Rolling Stone, a thing people actually read; it’s best remembered now as a place where Hunter Thompson wrote 15,000 word pieces people actually pretended to care about and called gonzo, as in what happens to your afternoon when you try to read them. Wenner created a magazine so cool, so in touch with the kids that he fired Lester Bangs for not being respectful to the friendly cool people whose music the magazine liked to award three or four stars to. It was, and probably still is, an industry mag, filled with tepid reviews of mainstream stuff eaten up at the mall. Not the cool one with the pawn shop and bootleg DVD place, the boring one with a Gap and Orange Julius.

That mall’s parking lot is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame’s a monument to something undefined, curated by people who want to please everybody and attended by people who want to gawk and take pictures. Is the Beastie Boys’ Fight For Your Right To Party more important than everything Public Enemy, Notorious BIG or NWA did, combined? Must be, since the Beasties are in and all those black artists aren’t. Is Donovan more important than Gram Parsons, who only mixed country and rock, creating a path that everyone from the Stones to Wilco went down? Guess Mello Yellow means more in rock history.

And what about Guns and Roses, a band led by a guitar player who wears ugly hats and a singer who wears blatantly fake hair? What did they do, besides play guitar on top of a piano and welcome you to the jungle?

Do you need monuments to famous rockers? Do you need a statue to remind you that Hendrix’s solo at Woodstock was like such a moment, man, that I just get dizzy thinking about it? Do you need a plaque to remind you of all the times you got high as hell and listened to Live/Dead and could just feel Garcia’s solo man… take me just a little bit higher Jerry, I can almost touch it…

No, you don’t. Rock is music, it’s not fucking academics. Rock is music made to be listened to, not taken apart and broken down like poetry. The best music was, and still is, made by sleazy people who don’t really care about stuff other than music. Want to hear a legacy? Listen to Elvis Presley, who still has a festival up in the sticks. Want some rock? Listen to Ron Asheton and Iggy.


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