March 11, 2008
Among the new inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year were John Mellencamp, who is as deserving as anyone, and Madonna, a.k.a. Louise Ciccone, who is most definitely not. It didn't help matters when she mentioned the "naysayers" in her acceptance speech. She is talented, contrary to what some think, and she deserves admiration for achieving pop music success, but we shouldn't get confused about musical genres.
As for Mellencamp, someone gave me the premier "John Cougar" album way back when "Jack and Diane" was his biggest hit. It took a while for me to really appreciate his style, his rebel attitude, and his growing sense of purpose and devotion to preserving rural / small-town America. "Pink Houses" ranks high on my list of favorite rock tunes.
The other inductees this year were The Dave Clark Five, The Ventures, and Leonard Cohen, a beatnik songwriter whom I had never heard of, but who sounds fully legit. Some other "dubious" R&RHOF inductees of the past include Herb Alpert, Parliament-Funkadelic, James Taylor, and Michael Jackson. Some of those artists are fine musicians and/or entertainers, but they are just not true rockers.
I took a quick look at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. It is located on the Cleveland waterfront, not far from the new Browns football stadium.