Why I Hate Dave Matthews Band…and Other Thoughts About the 2020 Rock Hall Nominees

10.15 RRHOF

For a Hall Watcher, today is much like New Year’s Eve when you’re young and single and ready to mingle: the anticipation is great, the unknown is titillating, the buildup is thrilling, the endless booze is intoxicating but that midnight kiss…well…uh…it was nice but there’s really nothing there. Oh sure, your hormones get everyone through the night, but then at 10 AM on New Year’s Day, you just have that overwhelming sense of disappointment.

You know, upon first glance, my friends and I would believe that my over-inflated ego would be celebrating the fact that I did predict eight of this year’s 16 nominees, with a ninth artist who was on my Honorable Mention list. But, in spite of that good fortune, I am honestly disappointed. My disappointment lies in a couple of areas. Foremost, how could the Nominating Committee, after a year of catching hell concerning the lack of a female presence in the Hall, could nominate only THREE deserving women! Good Lord Boomers! This is the 21st century! Get with the program because women have been dominating rock in so many meaningful ways that I find myself gravitating to younger female artists like Billie Eilish, Charli XCX and Lizzo than any of the male-dominated artists, all of whom remain very redundant to me. And, the other reason is for the nomination of one artist: the Dave Matthews Band. To use one of my dad’s favorite phrase, “For Chrissakes!” Or, how about the modern phrase that my boys used to ask me and their mom, “WTF?!?!?!” With so many more deserving Nineties bands, and specifically jam bands (i.e., Phish!), available, why go with the homogeneous and bland DMB? Hell, I could make a better case for Hootie and the Blowfish or Wilson Phillips than I ever could for DMB. Once you heard “Ants Marching,” you’ve heard the band’s whole career. And you would think my boys would be the perfect targets for that band, but they have complained about DMB since that first album. Actually, my older son, Graham, has the uncanny ability to sing DMB lyrics from one song to another’s tune just to show how all their songs are the same, only slowed down or sped up. (By the way, he does that to Nickelback too. He should be doing comedy with this stuff, but his humor is way too British for America, especially in Larry the Cable Guy country.)

10.15 2020 RRHOF Nominees

So, instead of Smashing Pumpkins, Carole King (again!), Tina Turner, Big Star, LL frickin’ Cool J, Eric B. & Rakim, Iron Maiden, Alice in Chains, The Jam, Gram Parsons, et. al., we got Dave Matthews Band, the future of bad yacht rock. Okay, Keller, deep breath! Deep breath! Hang on, my back is spasming so bad right now! And, I blame Dave Matthews for that too! As a matter of fact, when I coached, I coached a JV baseball team. We had played three poor road games in a row, when I discovered that some DMB song had been playing on the bus before all three games. I refused to let my team listen to DMB after that. If they came on the radio, the bus driver had to change the stations. I blamed DMB for my team’s crappy play because they all played as if they were asleep! Hang on! Deep breath! I need caffeine, which soothes those of us who are ADHD. No lie! Scientific fact. Ritalin, Adderall and caffeine all act the same way on those with this infliction.

So, besides the artist that I will no longer mention, here are the other 15 artists who have been nominated for the Class of 2020. In parentheses, I have where I ranked the artist in my Top 200, as well as whether I predicted their name on this list.

10.15 Benatar

Pat Benatar – Once described as the 80s’ hard rock vixen, this woman, along with her collaborator/husband Neil Giraldo have been rightly nominated for the first time. (#24, yes)

10.15 dave matthews band

DMB – ‘Nuff said. Oh, this is their first time too. (not ranked, no)

VARIOUS - 1987

Depeche Mode – The goth synth rockers of the early ’80s who filled stadiums by the end of that decade. They have been nominated before. (#22, yes)

10.15 Doobie_Brothers

The Doobie Brothers – Finally, the hardest working band of the ’70s has gotten their first nod. (#12, yes)

10.15 Houston

Whitney Houston – The heir to, Aretha Franklin’s throne was the voice of my generation. This is her first nomination. (#42, Honorable Mention)

10.15 Judas Priest

Judas Priest – The metal gods got their second nomination this year. The one time that Eddie Trunk is right. (#18, no)

10.15 Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk – I get it that most of my friends don’t know who they are unless they took high school German, then we ALL knew who they were. This is THE starting point for all forms of synthesizer usage. You don’t have to dig them, but you MUST respect them! They are burning a hole through the whole nomination-and-still-not-getting-induction process that it’s getting as old as Chic was (yet, another sore point with me!). (#1, yes)

10.15 MC5

MC5 – I’ve lost track of the number of times they have been nominated, so, for crying out loud, just put them in. That way, do the whole thing over with the New York Dolls, The Jam and Big Star. (#55, yes)

10.15 motorhead

Motörhead – Another band that makes one scratch his head saying, “And Metallica is in?!” Don’t be surprised, but this is Lemmy’s band’s first nomination. (#47, no)

10.15 NIN

Nine Inch Nails – Yes! Again! (#27, yes)

10.15 Notorious BIG

The Notorious B.I.G. – Tupac’s in, so Biggie should follow since they will be forever linked together as the best M.C.s of the Nineties, as well as the whole East Coast vs. West Coast crap. Still, he was a generational talent and deserves the recognition. (#26, yes)

10.15 rufus-chaka-khan

Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – How many more times must they be nominated before the voters put them in? Chaka was a miniature version of Whitney in the 70s. I still love to listen to her music, especially when she fronted one of the hottest funk bands ever Rufus. (#41, no)

10.15 Rundgren

Todd Rundgren – Rundgren and Paul Weller to the only two of my all-time favorite artists not in the Hall. He was third in the fan balloting last year and still did not get in. Make this right! (#4, yes)

10.15 soundgarden

Soundgarden – I fell in love with Soundgarden in the late-Eighties, and even turned on one of my nephews to them when I bought him a cassette of their Louder Than Love album. They should be the third of the Big Four of Grunge, with Alice in Chains still awaiting their first nomination. (#85, no)

Finn And Bolan

T. Rex – In the States, these Glam band pioneers have been more of a footnote for “Bang a Gong,” but in the UK, they are gods. I am excited about this first-time nomination, especially after Roxy Music’s induction. (#87, no)

10.15 thin lizzy

Thin Lizzy – This first-time nominee has me over the moon! I have always felt they might be viewed like many viewed my beloved Cheap Trick – a great band but not deserving of the Hall. Still, Cheap Trick got in, so Thin Lizzy, who are much more than “The Boys Are Back in Town,” could be following them soon. (#119, no)

Let the fun begin! And, don’t forget to vote daily on the Rock Hall website for your five favorites. My four locks are Pat Benatar, Todd Rundgren, Whitney Houston and The Doobie Brothers, with Biggie, Depeche Mode, Rufus and Judas Priest battling it out for my fifth vote. But, I will vote for everyone except that one band! FYI: Biggie is a shoo-in!


30 Female Artists Worthy of a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction

10.7 carole king
Carole King

I know it is probably too late to influence the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee this year, since the nominations will be announced soon. And when you are a very minor voice in all of this, as I am, I should just “know my role.” But, I have spent the better part of my 56 years here on Earth swimming against the current, so why would I let such a thing as a deadline deter me.

10.7 The-Carter-family
The Carter Family, the first family of country music

My purpose in such an endeavor is to inform, and possibly even entertain. Well, honestly, this is seeming exercise of futility is honestly an effort to take my mind off my daily pain issues if only for an hour or two. In essence, this is an act of defiance and survival. And, instead of focusing on sports, I have turned to my hobby of music collecting for this stand.

Diana Ross

After watching the 2019 RRHOF Induction Ceremony, I was taken with the lack of female representation in the Hall. Since women make up 50% of the world’s population, you would think the Rock Hall would have similar statistics. But, when I found out that only SEVEN PERCENT (!) of the inductees were female, that convicted me. You see, my older son and his wife, a year ago, had the first female baby in my family in about a century. And when I see her, I want her to see strong women in all aspects of her life so she knows that she has absolutely no limits to follow whatever path she desires in life. So, I have been making it a priority to fight this fight for her and every other woman on this planet, be they past, present or future. Am I a saint? By no means! I am a huge sinner in all aspects of my life, but I do have a sincere heart. So, I will attempt to make my white male-privileged voice heard.

10.7 sonic youth
Sonic Youth, the Gen X Velvet Underground

Of course, it does not change the fact that I am still fighting for Todd Rundgren and The Jam. Nothing will thwart that! I simply want to see more women inducted. Hopefully, the Hall will one day begin inducting more than five to seven artists and get this logjam of artists in waiting cleared out soon, but I am not holding my breath. Not until the Rock Hall has many of the old guard cleared out of their influence.

10.7 salt-n-pepa

With that said, I have 30 female-oriented artists who deserve induction soon. Actually, I probably could actually come up with 100, but in an effort to limit my lists, let’s begin with these 30. Additionally, I have another 17 women whom have played an important role in the advancement of this music we love. These women are all pioneers in the musical industry and should be recognized. That means I have 47 women who all deserve this honor for their contributions to rock and roll.

The Artists:

10.7 Big-Mama-Thornton
Big Mama Thornton
  1. Big Mama Thornton
  2. Björk
  3. Carol King
  4. Carpenters
  5. Cher
  6. Cyndi Lauper
  7. Diana Ross
  8. Dionne Warwick
  9. Dolly Parton
  10. Eurythmics
  11. Kate Bush
  12. Mary Wells
  13. Pat Benatar
  14. Patsy Cline
  15. Pixies
  16. Rufus & Chaka Khan
  17. Salt-N-Pepa
  18. Sheryl Crow
  19. Sonic Youth
  20. The B-52’s
  21. The Carter Family
  22. The Crystals
  23. The Go-Go’s
  24. The Marvelettes
  25. The Pointer Sisters
  26. The Runaways
  27. The Shangri-La’s
  28. Tina Turner
  29. TLC
  30. Whitney Houston
10.7 tlc

Other Important Female Contributors to Rock History

  1. Alison Steele – First female DJ recipient of Billboard’s “FM Personality of the Year,” 1976.
  2. Carole Kaye – Bassist of L.A.’s session musician collective known as the Wrecking Crew, the greatest collective of session musicians this side of the Funk Brothers.
  3. Cordell Jackson – First female record producer for her own rock label.
  4. Deena Weinstein – Screw Eddie Trunk! Weinstein is THE foremost expert of metal!
  5. Donna Gaines – Rock critic extraordinaire.
  6. Donna Halper – Noted for discovering Rush while a DJ at WMMS in Cleveland.
  7. dream hampton – Before becoming a well-known filmmaker, she was “your favorite rapper’s favorite journalist.”
  8. Genya Ravan – Producer of the Dead Boys’ Young, Loud and Snotty.
  9. Holly George-Warren – Top notch rock journalist.
  10. Jaan Uhelszki – One of my favorite rock journalists from Creem magazine (she was a co-founder!).
  11. Lisa Robinson – My favorite rock journalist from the 70s, bar none! Her articles in Creem magazine were my rock & roll nirvana during my teenage years.
  12. Maxanne Sartori – Hired by Boston’s WBCN as their afternoon drive DJ in 1970, credited with influencing the success of Aerosmith and The Cars.
  13. Sharon Osbourne – Most famous for being Ozzy Osbourne’s manager.
  14. Susan Rodgers – Engineer on most of the great Prince records of the Eighties.
  15. Sylvia Robinson – Started Sugarhill Records, and subsequently, hip hop.
  16. Sylvie Simmons – Anyone who has written for Mojo as long as Simmons has got to be a preeminent rock expert.
  17. Vivienne Goldman – Covered the UK punk scene early on for NME and Melody Maker. The basis of my punk knowledge came from her writings.

200 Artists Worthy of Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

10.3 long live rock rrhof

When I wrote about my predictions for this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations, someone’s Twitter conversation triggered my memory of one of my many blog projects. So, I spent the better part of last week searching through my idea journals to find my long aborted wish list of artists who have been snubbed over the years. Man, did I ever have a list!

10.3 inside rock hall

So, after much editing and updating and re-editing and re-updating, I think I am ready to release this whopper of a list upon an unsuspecting public. Please, allow me to reiterate a couple of things. First, I am not blessed with any musical talent; I cannot sing if my life depended on it or play a musical instrument. Sports and accumulating worthless knowledge are my canvases. Second, I am a huge fan of the many incarnations popular music has come in over the years and constantly am seeking to hear those important artists of the past, present and future. Third, for some reason I do not comprehend, if I read about it I retain it. That talent was useful in school and college but kind of gets you labeled as a nerd by your peers while growing up. Finally, I am not a rock music scholar. I have more holes in my historical perspective than a block of Swiss cheese (You do know that those holes are caused by the bacterium that spoils the milk into that Swiss. Basically, those holes are bacteria farts, but I digress.). So, all you people who have a better grasp on history, please do not snicker too hard at this list.

10.3 2016_RRHoF_EntrancetoMainHall-web

With this list of 200 artists, I placed them in some order of who I believe is most deserving at the top, splitting metaphorical hairs between artists placed near each other while those much lower are the artists who I believe are less influential. Since I have trouble editing myself, I am giving you the whole whopping, nearly overwhelming list. Grant you, this is an act of futility, only to make me frustrated. Also, I did try to remove my own biases and preferences, but I am sorry, I still cannot stomach Jethro Tull for some reason and subsequently listed lower than most Hall Watchers would. I don’t know what it is about them either. This violent reaction of my internal organs and the outer layer of my epidermis happens whenever I hear any of their music outside of “Bungle in the Jungle” and “Aqualung.” So, please, don’t crucify me! Then again, the confident former coach still inside tells me that you all should just deal with it.

10.3 signaturewall-rrhof_30

Specifically, rock music has been both a visceral and ethereal influence upon me. Seemingly, unlike any form of music throughout history, rock has been able to couple a pulsating, aggressive sound that strikes through to your soul with a literary use of words to soothe your psyche. Whether it’s “Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom” or “The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves, Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays” when coupled with their accompanying music, the listener is transported away from their world into an escape. Those two things go hand in hand. Mozart and Beethoven never really worried about lyrics, so their music was of their time yet not nearly as urgent and timeless simultaneously. Don’t get me wrong! Those “classical” composers created some of Earth’s greatest musical pieces. What I am saying is that rock’s lyrics are what makes the impact of this music as spiritual and intellectual with a major wallop to the groin so visceral.

10.3 RRHOF

Enough of my philosophical ramblings! Let’s take a look at my 200 Artists Worthy of Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. No explanations, just the names. So, let the slams begin.

10.3 1.kraftwerk

  1. Kraftwerk
  2. Carole King
  3. Mary Wells
  4. Todd Rundgren
  5. Cher
  6. Tina Turner
  7. Big Star
  8. The Runaways
  9. Gram Parsons
  10. Willie Nelson
  11. Dolly Parton
  12. The Doobie Brothers
  13. The Jam
  14. LL Cool J
  15. Iron Maiden
  16. The B-52’s
  17. Patsy Cline
  18. Judas Priest
  19. Joy Division/New Order
  20. Big Mama Thornton
  21. The Smiths
  22. Depeche Mode
  23. The Monkees
  24. Pat Benatar
  25. Cyndi Lauper
  26. The Notorious B.I.G.
  27. Nine Inch Nails
  28. Oasis
  29. Johnny Burnette & the Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio
  30. Afrika Bambaataa
  31. Eurythmics
  32. Duran Duran
  33. Link Wray
  34. The Carter Family
  35. Pixies
  36. Hüsker Dü
  37. Tommy James & the Shondells
  38. Eric B. & Rakim
  39. Love
  40. Carpenters
  41. Rufus & Chaka Khan
  42. Whitney Houston
  43. Chic
  44. Commodores
  45. Ozzy Osbourne
  46. The Spinners
  47. Mötorhead
  48. Björk
  49. Mötley Crüe
  50. Raspberries
  51. The J. Geils Band
  52. John Coltrane
  53. Outkast
  54. Rage Against the Machine
  55. MC5
  56. Devo
  57. The Replacements
  58. The Go-Go’s
  59. The Marvelettes
  60. Boston
  61. Jane’s Addiction
  62. Joe Cocker
  63. Kate Bush
  64. Smashing Pumpkins
  65. Buzzcocks
  66. King Crimson
  67. Sonic Youth
  68. A Tribe Called Quest
  69. Dionne Warwick
  70. Weezer
  71. Tool
  72. Little Feat
  73. Pet Shop Boys
  74. Chubby Checker
  75. The Pointer Sisters
  76. The Crystals
  77. Neil Sedaka
  78. The Shangri-La’s
  79. Dick Dale
  80. Ben E. King
  81. Paul Revere & the Raiders
  82. Los Lobos
  83. The Meters
  84. Beck
  85. Soundgarden
  86. Slayer
  87. T. Rex
  88. Sheryl Crow
  89. TLC
  90. War
  91. De La Soul
  92. Warren Zevon
  93. Joe Tex
  94. Salt-N-Pepa
  95. Dead Kennedys
  96. New York Dolls
  97. Sinead O’Connor
  98. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  99. Dre
  100. Peter Tosh
  101. Merle Haggard
  102. Black Flag
  103. Suzi Quatro
  104. Wu-Tang Clan
  105. Kurtis Blow
  106. Ice-T
  107. Diana Ross
  108. Ice Cube
  109. Queen Latifah
  110. Glen Campbell
  111. Sonny & Cher
  112. Emmylou Harris
  113. Don Henley
  114. Tracy Chapman
  115. Kool & the Gang
  116. Blue Öyster Cult
  117. “Weird Al” Yankovic
  118. Styx
  119. Thin Lizzy
  120. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  121. INXS
  122. Hole
  123. Liz Phair
  124. Jethro Tull
  125. Anthrax
  126. The Specials
  127. Television
  128. Gil Scott-Heron
  129. Sade
  130. The Clovers
  131. Brian Eno
  132. Phish
  133. George Michael
  134. The Bangles
  135. The Flying Burrito Brothers
  136. Barry White
  137. XTC
  138. X
  139. The Time
  140. Harry Nilsson
  141. Steve Winwood
  142. Bad Company
  143. Jan & Dean
  144. Mott the Hoople
  145. Toots & the Maytals
  146. Alice in Chains
  147. John Prine
  148. Bad Brains
  149. The Guess Who
  150. The Sugarhill Gang
  151. Patty Labelle/Labelle
  152. Rufus Thomas/Carla Thomas
  153. Lionel Richie
  154. Phil Collins
  155. Luther Vandross
  156. Rick James
  157. Peter Frampton
  158. Squeeze
  159. Stray Cats
  160. Tears for Fears
  161. Faith No More
  162. Madness
  163. The Black Crowes
  164. Jimmy Buffett
  165. Peter, Paul & Mary
  166. Grand Funk Railroad
  167. Captain Beefhart
  168. John Hiatt
  169. Mariah Carey
  170. Joe Jackson
  171. The Ohio Players
  172. Procol Harum
  173. Slade
  174. Badfinger
  175. Jesus & Mary Chain
  176. Can
  177. Foreigner
  178. Herbie Hancock
  179. Blood, Sweat & Tears
  180. Mary J. Blige
  181. Kansas
  182. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
  183. Minutemen
  184. Teena Marie
  185. The Damned
  186. The 5th Dimension
  187. Boz Scaggs
  188. Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
  189. Waylon Jennings
  190. Fugees
  191. Violent Femmes
  192. Misfits
  193. Cameo
  194. Arrested Development
  195. The Sweet
  196. Supertramp
  197. Three Dog Night
  198. Wynonnie Harris
  199. Carly Simon
  200. Meat Loaf

R.I.P. Ric Ocasek & The Cars

Photo of CARS

It’s now been a week since I saw the news release announcing that the main songwriter of The Cars, Ric Ocasek, had passed. Now it has not affected me the same way Prince or Tom Petty hit me, but his passing has hit me hard, putting yet another metaphorical nail in the coffin of my youth.

9.23 logo

You see, in many ways, The Cars represented something of an gateway drug into my continued obsession with alternative music. Looking back, I was reading about the Sex Pistols, Ramones and The Clash but had yet to gain the intestinal fortitude to eschew my Boston and Styx records for the more enjoyable music of my youth. Then, in 1978, I discovered the now-classic eponymous debut album by The Cars, and my life literally changed. Now, I was hearing the sounds of a new generation. Sure, they played classic rock sounds with the pop sheen of the bubblegum music from my elementary school days. But, this music was also laced with futuristic synth swooshes and new wave rhythms that told me the punk waters were warm, safe and inviting for this Midwestern kid.

9.23 the cars live 1978

The best part about The Cars was that my, and this is an endearing term when used by someone whose housing addition was surrounded by corn fields, hick friends could find common ground when at parties and cruising around our hometown. This was the band that unified the different factions in our high school. Metal heads, stoners, science nerds, jocks, seemingly all of us loved The Cars, and, anecdotally speaking from class reunions we still do, continues to unite my generation. Perhaps the coolest thing was how influential the band was throughout the Nineties (Ric Ocasek produced Weezer’s now-classic debut album!) and into the 21st century (Listen to The Killers, Bloc Party and a host of others).

9.23 the cars live 1984

I give you that they weren’t an overtly flashy band, like say A Flock of Seagulls or Billy Idol, but their songs have had much more staying power than perhaps any other artist from the same time period, outside of Prince, Michael, The Boss or Madonna. And, that, my friends, says it all to me.

Therefore, in one last salute to The Cars, I present to you my Top 20 Songs by The Cars.

9.23 i'm not the one

20. “I’m Not the One” (Shake It Up, 1981)

19. “It’s All I Can Do” (Candy-O, 1979)

18. “Sad Song” (Move like This, 2011)

17. “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” (The Cars, 1978)

16. “You Are the Girl” (Door to Door, 1987)

9.23 Tonight_She_Comes_by_The_Cars

15. “Tonight She Comes” (Greatest Hits, 1985)

14. “Hello Again” (Heartbeat City, 1984)

13. “Magic” (Heartbeat City, 1984)

12. “Shake It Up” (Shake It Up, 1981)

11. “Moving in Stereo” (The Cars, 1978)

9.23 good times roll

10. “Good Times Roll” (The Cars, 1978). This great song is the THIRD single from the band’s fantastic debut album and a classic rock standard. It’s hard to remember just how different this song was from everything else on Central Indiana radio at the time.

9. “Dangerous Type” (Candy-O, 1979). I am a big fan of the darker music by The Cars, and this song wasn’t much of a radio hit but was included in the now-forgotten 1980 coming-of-age Times Square movie to great effect. It’s a shame the song was left off the soundtrack because it’s inclusion would have made the double album perfect.

8. “You Might Think” (Heartbeat City, 1984). A prime example of the quirky pop-rock The Cars perfected. And, back in 1984, no video was more cutting edge than the one for this terrific song.

7. “Drive” (Heartbeat City, 1984). The Cars made their entry into ballad-land with this haunting tune. It was used to great effect during the Live Aid video that depicted the famine in Africa.

6. “Just What I Needed” (The Cars, 1978). To me, this was the safest-sounding Cars song and, in retrospect, the perfect way to introduce the band to the world.

9.23 Touch_and_Go_-_The_Cars

5. “Touch and Go” (Panorama, 1980). I wasn’t joking when I said that I love the weird side of this band. And, outside of “Moving in Stereo,” no song was as jarring at the time as this one was when you first heard it. As a matter of fact, it remains so. It’s light years ahead of the music world.

4. “Bye Bye Love” (The Cars, 1978). Easily my favorite non-single cut by The Cars. I love the dark imaginary utilized to describe a disintegrating relationship. Plus, you know something good has to be going on when this song got a HUGE reaction from a Ted Nugent/AC/DC crowd when played during the pre-concert music.

3. “Since You’re Gone” (Shake It Up, 1981). Once again, I’m walking on the dark side of the street, but this song has never really gotten the praise it truly deserves. WHY WASN’T IT A HUGE HIT?!?!?!

2. “My Best Friend’s Girl” (The Cars, 1978). This one challenged radio programmers NOT to add it to their playlist. It’s like radio around here went from safe music to playing more and more new wave after this song got on the playlists around here. “Stayed tuned, because The Police will be back with “Roxanne” after this word from our sponsors.” Would have NEVER happened if this song was popular first.

9.23 let's go

1. “Let’s Go” (Candy-O, 1979). You know, there are just certain songs that simply tell you everything you need to know about an artist. Guns N’ Roses have “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” R.E.M. has “Losing My Religion.” And, Michael Jackson has “Billie Jean.” Well, to me, “Let’s Go” is that song for The Cars. Even Prince loved the song! How much better could an endorsement get?

My 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominee Predictions

9.18 RRHOF

Traditionally speaking, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame releases its annual Nominees List around October 9, and those of us that have a romantic view of the monument have been dropping prediction list after prediction list concerning our beliefs as to who will be nominated. I will admit that I am a passionate casual follower of the Hall, which basically means that I follow the Hall’s actions more closely than the casual fan while not obsessed as several of my writer friends are. So, if you are looking for accuracy, you might want to look up various Rock Hall watchers’ sites for their predictions, for they all do outstanding jobs of reading the tea leaves. Me, on the other hand, I am a fan, and my list lands somewhere between an actual prediction and a unabashed “wish list.” But, isn’t that what makes following the Hall so much fun? It’s almost like fantasy football for rock geeks. And, I’m a HUGE rock and roll geek.

Since the early Nineties, the RRHOF Nominating Committee has limited themselves to 15 nominees each year. And, they have also most inducted five of those nominees each year. These self-imposed limitations have handcuffed itself into a seemingly endless backlog of truly deserving rock immortals sitting on the outside. When this whole thing was being planned back in the Eighties, I used to complain that this institution was unnecessary because each of us have different tastes which is what makes music so beautiful.

Now, the Hall becomes an artist’s fan’s validation and a money-making project for the Hall itself. Yet, like all Halls of Fame, it is a living, breathing testament to the history of this music that has played such an important part of the better part of three generations of music lovers throughout the world. Plus, if you have ever been to Cleveland to visit the museum, you will be blown away by everything you will see there. Personally, it has been 16 years since I’ve been there, but we are planning to go soon since Prince and Cheap Trick have been inducted during these intervening years.

With that said, I want to present my 15 Nominees, in addition to five artists who should also be considered and would not be surprised if they are on the official list.

9.18 the b-52's

The B-52’s – The party band from Athens, Georgia, paved the way not only for R.E.M.’s stellar career, but for alternative music itself.

9.18 pat benatar

Pat Benatar – After Heart and The Runaways cracked open the door for female rock deities, Pat Benatar knocked that door down to prove that women should be taken seriously in this business.

9.18 CHER

Cher – If you think Cher was just the beautiful half of Sonny & Cher, you were wrong. If you thought there was no way she could act, you were wrong. This woman was MADONNA before Madonna was out of her teens. Wake up people! This woman has the goods!

VARIOUS - 1987

Depeche Mode – Until Morrissey began endorsing extreme right-wing nut jobs, I always thought The Smiths would be inducted next from the Eighties college rock scene. While it still may happen, I now think Depeche Mode will follow The Cure into the Hall.

9.18 the doobie brothers

The Doobie Brothers – You may be asking yourself, “They aren’t in?!?!” Nope! This is their time.

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Iron Maiden – Judas Priest finally got a nomination last year and somehow did not get in despite Eddie Trunk’s supposed influence. This year, I think the Committee will shift gears a bit and nominate the Maiden. Both bands have been criminally overlooked for years.

9.18 carole king

Carole King – Here I go again! Yes, she’s not in the Hall as an artist. And King released one of the all-time great albums Tapestry, which continues to amaze me nearly 50 years later. Come on people!

9.18 kraftwerk

Kraftwerk – Most Americans do not realize how musically influential Kraftwerk has been to this very day. They were the first band to embrace synthesizers, making electronic music both rocking and danceable. The direction of Eighties music would have totally been different if not for these guys embracing technology. Afrika Bambaataa sampled their music, most importantly on “Planet Rock.” And, we all know how important the synthesizer was to Prince, synth pop, dance pop, New Jack swing, industrial music, ZZ Top in the mid-Eighties, and I could go on and on.

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MC5 – THE political proto-punks from Detroit helped birth the whole Seventies punk scene, along with Hall inductees The Stooges and the overlooked New York Dolls. Their torch was picked up in the Nineties by Rage Against the Machine, yet another overlooked band.

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Nine Inch Nails – After Trent Reznor’s impassioned induction speech for The Cure last year should be rewarded with an induction for his brilliant band that married metal, industrial and pop musics. Plus, anyone who has battle depression probably has gone through a NIN phase. I had a difficult time choosing one Nineties rock artist, as I considered Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, all of whom are worthy.

9.18 the notorious big

The Notorious B.I.G. – Here is the one artist of the first-time eligible nominees who will get inducted. Since Tupac is in, and those two redefined hip hop during their all-too-brief careers, I expect Biggie to follow. Unfortunately, that means that Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Eric B. & Rakim, Dr. Dre and, most importantly, LL Cool J will all have to wait…again!

9.18 Dolly-Parton

Dolly Parton – That’s right! Dolly’s not in, while influencing seemingly EVERYONE in rock history. I’m not a country fan, but I am a fan of great music. And, Dolly writes and creates great music. Other country artists who should be inducted include Willie Nelson (C’mon! Kid Rock is stealing his zeitgeist!), Patsy Cline (Arguably the greatest female country voice this side of Linda Ronstadt), Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson. 2019 may well be her year.

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The Runaways – If it wasn’t for The Runaways, where would women be in the rock/punk world? And take a look at their classic line-up of Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Sandy West and long-running Jeopardy champion Jackie (Fuchs) Fox. That’s a ’27 Yankees of female rockers immortality. Hell, they just rocked period.

9.18 todd rundgren

Todd Rundgren – The Hermit of Mink Hollow finished THIRD in last year’s fan balloting and did NOT get inducted! WTF?!?!?!?! This man is THE Renaissance Man of rock music. This better be his year, or I will be bitching all year long!

9.18 tina turner

Tina Turner – That’s right! Tina’s not in as a solo artist, when everyone my age remembers her storybook comeback in 1984. She is another “no-brainer.”

Honorable Mention:

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Whitney Houston – This one will truly tick off one of my former track athletes, because he will say she is not rock music. That’s true! But, much like Aretha Franklin, Whitney was The Voice of a Generation.

9.18 The-Jam

The Jam – Paul Weller is one of my favorite songwriters, and his seminal punk band, a HUGE influence on Green Day and the pop-punk of the early 21st century, should be immediately considered. Let’s face it! Britpop may not have happened if it wasn’t for The Jam.

9.18 the spinners

The Spinners – Perhaps, Philadelphia’s greatest soul group of the Seventies. Their early-Seventies catalog is just brilliant.

9.18 war

War – This band from East L.A. was a rock/funk combo who dominated in the early Seventies. They have been overlooked for far too long.

9.18 link wray

Link Wray – This man pioneered the power chord. So, where do you think The Who, AC/DC and so many others got their power from? Look no further.

When you are limited by certain parameters, you can all list at least twenty more deserving artists. This nominating and induction process is getting out of hand. Something has got to change!

1984: Not Really Orwell’s Dystopia


Growing up, the year 1984 always seemed to be a year of impending doom. In some ways it was, what with the Ayn Rand-driven Reaganomics unfortunately becoming the dominant economic philosophy leading to the undermining of the middle class. But when were still a decade away from much of Orwell’s dystopic vision of society, although this was not coming from the left but the right. Actually, a book that came out around this time entitled The Handmaid’s Tale may actually be closer to reality today than Orwell’s vision. Sorry, but there was not really a new morning in America but more of an impending doom.

9.16 the-cars

And, believe it or not, the underground music scene reflected this queasiness with Reagan’s America. Go back and listen to music of Run-D.M.C., The Replacements, Hüsker Dü or The Smiths, and you can hear this anger building. While, the media was attempting to push a party-hearty music of glam metal to keep the youth diverted from reality.

9.16 run dmc

Yet, through it all, some of the finest music was being released during this pivotal year. 1984, of course, was Prince’s year. At one point during the summer of 1984, the man had the number one album, single and movie in the country. But, other artists were hitting the bullseye with their music. The Cars released a terrific album, Heartbeat City, that was loaded with hits. Van Halen, another band who debuted in 1978 with The Cars, released a great commercial album with 1984. And, one of my personal favorites, The Style Council, was bringing their Motown/Europop vision to the forefront of the music scene.

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On a personal level, 1984 was my senior year in college. I was facing adulthood, marriage, a career and an impending parenthood all at once while attempting to figure out how to mature into the vision of myself without too much compromise. At least the music was great that year to help me through this terrifying moment in my life. But, it was a hell of a year to be the soundtrack of that kind of year, which ends my decade of development as Gen X-er coming of age.

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So, let’s put a cap on this decade with what I consider to be the finest year of this ten-year run of when I might have actually been somewhat “cool.” Let’s count ’em down!

9.16 Roxanne-Shante-1984

100. “Roxanne’s Revenge” – Roxanne Shante

99. “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.

98. “Rock Box” – Run-D.M.C.

97. “Rock You like a Hurricane” – Scorpions

96. “Footloose” – Kenny Loggins

95. “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” – Deniece Williams

94. “Holiday” – Madonna

93. “Let the Music Play” – Shannon

92. “Cruel Summer” – Bananarama

91. “Jump (For My Love)” – The Pointer Sisters

9.16 The-Romantics

90. “Talking in Your Sleep” – The Romantics

89. “Legs” – ZZ Top

88. “Eyes Without a Face” – Billy Idol

87. “Dance Hall Days” – Wang Chung

86. “On the Dark Side” – John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band

85. “Original Sin” – INXS

84. “Break My Stride” – Matthew Wilder

83. “Nobody Told Me” – John Lennon

82. “Lucky Star” – Madonna

81. “Middle of the Road” – The Pretenders

9.16 the pointer sisters

80. “Automatic” – The Pointer Sisters

79. “Hot for Teacher” – Van Halen

78. “(She’s) Sexy + 17” – Stray Cats

77. “Jungle Love” – The Time

76. “Relax” – Frankie Goes to Hollywood

75. “You Might Think” – The Cars

74. “The Warrior” – Scandal (Featuring Patty Smyth)

73. “99 Luftballoons” – Nena

72. “Valotte” – Julian Lennon

71. “Roxanne Roxanne” – U.T.F.O.

9.16 Teena Marie

70. “Lovergirl” – Teena Marie

69. “Close (To the Edit)” – The Art of Noise

68. “Magic” – The Cars

67. “Got a Hold on Me” – Christine McVie

66. “Dancing in the Sheets” – Shalamar

65. “That’s All” – Genesis

64. “Head Over Heels” – The Go-Go’s

63. “Adult Education” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

62. “Going Down to Liverpool” – The Bangles

61. “Run Runaway” – Slade

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60. “They Don’t Know” – Tracey Ullman

59. “I Want a New Drug” – Huey Lewis & the News

58. “State of Shock” – The Jacksons & Mick Jagger

57. “Sunglasses at Night” – Corey Hart

56. “Who’s That Girl” – Eurythmics

55. “Stuck on You” – Lionel Richie

54. “Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper

53. “Blue Jean” – David Bowie

52. “Last Christmas” – Wham!

51. “The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley

9.16 foreigner

50. “I Want to Know What Love Is” – Foreigner

49. “Cover Me” – Bruce Springsteen

48. “Purple Rain” – Prince & the Revolution

47. “I Feel for You” – Chaka Khan

46. “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” – Phil Collins

45. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” – Twisted Sister

44. “Born in the U.S.A.” – Bruce Springsteen

43. “Oh Sherrie” – Steve Perry

42. “Round and Round” – Ratt

41. “Hold Me Now” – Thompson Twins

40. “Rebel Yell” – Billy Idol

9.16 rockwell

39. “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell

38. “Authority Song” – John Cougar Mellencamp

37. “Jump” – Van Halen

36. “Easy Lover” – Philip Bailey Jr. with Phil Collins

35. “Panama” – Van Halen

34. “I Will Dare” – The Replacements

33. “Wouldn’t It Be Good” – Nik Kershaw

32. “Out of Touch” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

31. “I Can Dream About You” – Dan Hartman

30. “The Reflex” – Duran Duran

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29. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid

28. “Give It Up” – KC

27. “The Bird” – The Time

26. “Lights Out” – Peter Wolf

25. “It’s My Life” – Talk Talk

24. “Two Tribes” – Frankie Goes to Hollywood

23. “Drive” – The Cars

22. “Radio Ga Ga” – Queen

Photo of Bruce SPRINGSTEEN

21. “Pink Cadillac” – Bruce Springsteen

20. “She Bop” – Cyndi Lauper

19. “Pride (In the Name of Love)” – U2

18. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” – Wham!

17. “Pink Houses” – John Cougar Mellencamp

16. “What’s Love Got to Do with It” – Tina Turner

9.16 Wham

15. “Careless Whisper” – Wham! featuring George Michael

14. “Sister Christian” – Night Ranger

13. “Like a Virgin” – Madonna

12. “Missing You” – John Waite

11. “Borderline” – Madonna

9.16 sheila e

10. “The Glamorous Life” – Sheila E.

9. “You’re the Best Thing” – The Style Council

8. “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” – R.E.M.

7. “How Soon Is Now?” – The Smiths

6. “Erotic City” – Prince & the Revolution

9.16 echo & the bunnymen

5. “Killing Moon” – Echo & the Bunnymen

4. “Dancing in the Dark” – Bruce Springsteen

3. “My Ever Changing Mood” – The Style Council

2. “Let’s Go Crazy” – Prince & the Revolution

9.16 prince

1. “When Doves Cry” – Prince

1983: Pop Music Rules, Thanks to MTV


After such a great weekend in which a childhood friend of my one of my boys got married and the class for which I was one of their sponsors had their twentieth class reunion (man, they are old!), things came crashing down again when I heard of the passing of The Cars’ leader Ric Ocasek. The Cars actually brought new wave in through classic rock’s doors when their timeless debut album was released in 1978. To the people who are now in their mid-fifties, like me, The Cars were one of our unifying artists, regardless if you were a Sabbath fan, a Pistols fan or a Fleetwood Mac fan; we all found ourselves in agreement with how great The Cars were. But, now, their two vocalists are gone, but their groundbreaking music lives on. And with Eddie Money’s passing on Friday, I am not looking forward to a third rock star death.

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You just cannot talk about the Eighties without thinking about the influence of The Cars. Ironically, 1983 was a very quiet year for the band, though we all remember what happened for them the following year. But, we are revisiting 1983, a year in which true pop music was the dominant force on the music scene. This was the year during which new wave and the subsequent Second British Invasion occurred. Michael Jackson’s moonwalk on the Motown 25th Anniversary Special caused Thriller to become THE dominant musical force for the year. Additionally, The Police released their own landmark album, Synchronicity, which lead the group to become the biggest band in the world. Even though their were many terrific rock, funk and R&B records released during the year, pop was king. And a little known but important scene on Hollywood’s Strip that we now call Glam metal was beginning to break nationally behind the success of Quiet Riot, the first metal act to have a number one album in the US. And, alternative music was beginning to break as well, with R.E.M. IRS Records full-length debut being released to critical acclaim while their British jangle counterparts, The Smiths, were making a big scene over in the UK.

9.15 cyndi-lauper

When you were a twenty-year-old at the time, the whole scenario was awesome! Little did I realize by the end of the year, I would only be six months away from meeting the most important person in my life. Regardless of that fact, 1983 was a great year for pop music, so let’s get on with the countdown!

9.15 scandal

100. “Goodbye to You” – Scandal

99. “Heaven” – Bryan Adams

98. “Confusion” – New Order

97. “Lawyers in Love” – Jackson Browne

96. “Buffalo Gals” – Malcolm McLaren

95. “Mad World” – Tears for Fears

94. “Wrapped Around Your Finger” – The Police

93. “Mr. Roboto” – Styx

92. “Cuts like a Knife” – Bryan Adams

91. “Come Dancing” – The Kinks

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90. “Promises, Promises” – Naked Eyes

89. “Salt in My Tears” – Martin Briley

88. “Holiday Road” – Lindsey Buckingham

87. “Breaking Us in Two” – Joe Jackson

86. “Straight from the Heart” – Bryan Adams

85. “I’m Still Standing” – Elton John

84. “Dead Giveaway” – Shalamar

83. “I Won’t Hold You Back” – Toto

82. “It’s a Mistake” – Men at Work

81. “She’s a Beauty” – The Tubes

9.15 stray cats

80. “Stray Cat Strut” – Stray Cats

79. “You Can’t Hurry Love” – Phil Collins

78. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” – Taco

77. “Always Something There to Remind Me” – Naked Eyes

76. “Never Gonna Give You Up” – Sergio Mendes

75. “In the Mood” – Robert Plant

74. “Joanna” – Kool & the Gang

73. “China Girl” – David Bowie

72. “Gimme All Your Lovin'” – ZZ Top

71. “Undercover of the Night” – The Rolling Stones

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70. “Major Tom (Coming Home)” – Peter Schilling

69. “Church of the Poison Mind” – Culture Club

68. “Is There Something I Should Know?” – Duran Duran

67. “The One Thing” – INXS

66. “No Parking (On the Dancefloor)” – Midnight Star

65. “Stand Back” – Stevie Nicks

64. “Say, Say, Say” – Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson

63. “Jeopardy” – Greg Kihn Band

62. “Overkill” – Men at Work

61. “One on One” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

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60. “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” – Air Supply

59. “Too Shy” – Kajagoogoo

58. “Mirror Man” – The Human League

57. “The Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats

56. “Der Kommissar” – After the Fire

55. “King of Pain” – The Police

54. “Tell Her About It” – Billy Joel

53. “Rock of Ages” – Def Leppard

52. “Say It Isn’t So” – Daryl Hall & John Oates

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51. “I Love L.A.” – Randy Newman

50. “Synchronicity II” – The Police

49. “Delirious” – Prince

48. “Mama” – Genesis

47. “Crumblin’ Down” – John Cougar Mellencamp

46. “Modern Love” – David Bowie

45. “Sharp Dressed Man” – ZZ Top

44. “Uptown Girl” – Billy Joel

43. “Favorite Waste of Time” – Marshall Crenshaw

42. “Why Me” – Planet P Project

41. “Big Log” – Robert Plant

9.15 big country

40. “In a Big Country” – Big Country

39. “Red Red Wine” – UB40

38. “Cum on Feel the Noize” – Quiet Riot

37. “Just Be Good to Me” – S.O.S. Band

36. “Leave a Tender Moment Alone” – Billy Joel

35. “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” – Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel

34. “Owner of a Lonely Heart” – Yes

33. “Faithfully” – Journey

32. “Pass the Dutchie” – Musical Youth

9.15 violent femmes

31. “Blister in the Sun” – Violent Femmes

30. “She Works Hard for the Money” – Donna Summer

29. “Love Is a Battlefield” – Pat Benatar

28. “Maniac” – Michael Sembello

27. “All Night Long (All Night)” – Lionel Richie

26. “Electric Avenue” – Eddie Grant

25. “Flashdance…Oh What a Feeling” – Irene Cara

24. “Blue Monday” – New Order

23. “Our House” – Madness

22. “New Year’s Day” – U2

21. “What About Me” – Moving Pictures

9.15 def-leppard

20. “Photograph” – Def Leppard

19. “Rockit” – Herbie Hancock

18. “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)” – A Flock of Seagulls

17. “Just Got Lucky” – JoBoxers

16. “True” – Spandau Ballet

9.15 the-fixx

15. “One Thing Leads to Another” – The Fixx

14. “Here Comes the Rain Again” – Eurythmics

13. “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” – Talking Heads

12. “Whenever You’re on My Mind” – Marshall Crenshaw

11. “Don’t Change” – INXS

10. “Let’s Dance” – David Bowie

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9. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” – U2

8. “Burning Down the House” – Talking Heads

7. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

6. “Karma Chameleon” – Culture Club

9.15 elvis costello

5. “Everyday I Write the Book” – Elvis Costello & the Attractions

4. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” – Elton John

3. “Long Hot Summer” – The Style Council

2. “Radio Free Europe” – R.E.M.

9.15 the police

1. “Every Breath You Take” – The Police