Hall of Fame Week: David Bowie

Written by Music

Ah yes, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Just the mention of it brings to mind life-sized, animatronic figurines of Keith Richards snorting a river of coke, don’t it? It’s a small world after all, Tinkerbell. But for some reason I just have this lingering disdain for the whole concept, and it isn’t some idealistic twaddle about how the corporate nature of memorialization goes directly against the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, because all that’s a load of diarrhea.

I think some of it has to do with a famous David Bowie quote, which goes something like this: it’s better to be the second to do something than to be the first. In other words, most of what we recognize as greatness in this world has been elaborated on, paid homage to, or outright stolen from somebody else — and that’s fine. That’s the nature of creative endeavor — that it’s little more than an amalgam of previous influences. But just as Bowie’s first big period, his glam period, owed a debt to garage rock as well as a bit of burlesque naughtiness, where are many of those garage rockers? Mostly dead, probably disregarded.

Thinking that through, I totally feel Bowie deserves to be recognized as a big deal in the rock world, but that’s a totally subjective opinion. Some people think Elvis peaked in Vegas, and they too are right to have their opinion, but does that justify giving Fat Elvis his due? Isn’t it just stupid to pit Thin Elvis against Fat Elvis in such a manner? And isn’t that essentially what the Hall does each year, playing some kid’s game at a grand scale, i.e. “My favorite band is better than your favorite band”?

If it were up to me, and God help us all if it were, everyone would be in. It would be a bastion of democracy, unflinching in its fairness because all contributors would have an equal stake, from U2’s “One” to Metallica’s “One” to Harry Nilsson’s “One,” from Pink Floyd’s “Time” to Alan Parsons’s “Time.” In my Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” would be as highly regarded as Samantha Fox’s “Touch Me” or Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s “Constipation Blues.” It’s all considered pop music anyway, and believe it or not, someone out there may love the most ludicrous piece of junk ever committed to vinyl/tape/CD/MP3 and have as much right to that love as the next person.

The Hall of Fame amounts to little more than a wiener-measuring contest. Some of those inductee wieners have been around the block, so do you really want to engage in that? I think not.