Saturday, March 08, 2008

Debating the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - Why Bother?

It's interesting - I have at least as much passion, if not more, for rock music than I have for baseball. But when it comes to debating the merits of candidates for their respective Halls of Fame, there's an enormous gap. I love debates about the Baseball Hall of Fame, but I have a strange disinterest in debates about the Rock and Roll Hall.

Why is that? I think it's because, absent any kind of guidance or standards from the Hall about what constitutes a Hall of Fame member, in the end it all boils down to personal preference. And once the Hall got through the list of obvious choices (I'm talking about artists like Chuck Berry, Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, Dylan, James Brown, Otis Redding...that caliber), on what do you base your selections? Artists like Jackson Browne and Bob Seger can't be considered (at least not by any reasonable person, and I love them both) as the equal of Bob Dylan - does that mean they don't belong? Of course not. But where do you draw the line? And what is more important - record sales? critical acclaim? influence? Does anyone really care anymore?

This was all brought to a head by an article, which Larry Aydlette linked to, that lists the author's 25 Biggest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame snubs. When I first saw it, I thought it would be fun to write a little something about each artist, and either make the case for their inclusion or exclusion. It didn't take me long to decide that I didn't really give a sh*t one way or another. Sure, I hate Genesis, but if you want to put them in, who am I to quibble? Dick Dale? Sure, great guitarist. But as Bill James once wrote, the point of a Hall of Fame is that the people in it are actually supposed to be famous. Is Dick Dale famous? In small circles, perhaps. But as I said before, you've got to draw the line somewhere. Hall and Oates? Yeah, I like them a lot. But really...are they good enough to be in a Hall of Fame?

All of which leads me to a conclusion that the concept of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was probably a dumb one to begin with.

1 comment:

Mona said...

Wow! Thanks for the link to the HOF snubs. There are some real heavyweights who aren't in the HOF. Carole King, Chicago, and Neil Diamond aren't in the HOF? I don't even like Neil Diamond, but come on, he's still commanding $150+ per ticket at concerts. That's HOF material. Jimmy Buffett probably was never mainstream enough to be recognized as "Rock and Roll". I'm sure Jimmy doesn't mind. All us Parrotheads keep going to his concerts, buying his stuff, to the tune of $44 million a year (in 2006). For that kind of money, I don't think Jimmy minds the snub. :-)