Monday, October 17, 2016

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2017: My Picks

These are the artists I would choose to induct into the Hall of Fame's next class if I were dictator.

* PEARL JAM   This is a true no-brainer. If Nirvana were the Beatles of grunge, Pearl Jam is the Rolling Stones of grunge. This is the lock for the year.

* CHIC  Enough is enough.

* THE CARS  Critical acclaim AND popular hits? This would be great. An easy call for the Hall.

* THE CURE or THE SMITHS  1980s alternative music continues to be an influence in the contemporary scene, and these two giants of that genre are certainly deserving. Americans probably know more songs by the Cure, but the Smiths were probably more influential. One of these artists ought to make it in this year.

* THE MONKEES  25 years after they became eligible for induction, the Monkees are experiencing a renaissance of sorts with a fine 50th anniversary album & an ongoing tour. Look at their catalog: their hits are among the best of the 1960s. The controversies of the past seem silly today; their influence is trumpeted by many current artists; Micky Dolenz was clearly one of the best pop-rock singers of their (or any) era. Stop messing around & do the right thing. They have become the most glaring oversight in the Hall.

* PATSY CLINE  There are other female-oriented artists deserving of consideration (the Marvelettes, the Shangri-Las, the B-52s, Pat Benatar, Cyndi Lauper, Eurythmics, Alanis Morissette, to name a few), but none are as impactful as the Queen of Country Music. Listen to her sing & you will immediately be reminded of what great singers sound like. Long overdue.

* THE MOODY BLUES  If I could pick one more, this classic band deserves a nod.

Award for Musical Excellence:

* BILLY PRESTON  He had fine hits of his own but was also a much loved sideman.

* CAROL KAYE  The greatest bassist not in the Hall.

* THE JORDANAIRES  Elvis' back-up singers have long deserved consideration.

Early Influences:






Note: I don't think that Janet Jackson deserves serious consideration. Many women have been more influential & have stronger bodies of work.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Patriotic Playlist 2016

"The Stars & Stripes Forever" by US Marines Band
"We're an American Band" by Grand Funk Railroad
"No More Kings" from Schoolhouse Rock
"Our Country" by John Mellencamp
"This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie
"Yankee Doodle Dandy" by James Cagney
"We Shall Overcome" by Mahalia Jackson
"American Girl" by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
"The Great American Melting Pot" from Schoolhouse Rock
"Star Spangled Man" by Alan Menken & David Zippen (from Captain America)
"A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke
"Ghost Riders in the Sky" by Johnny Cash
"If I Had a Hammer" by Peter, Paul & Mary
"An American Trilogy" by Elvis Presley
"The Preamble" from Schoolhouse Rock
"Living in America" by James Brown
"US Military Anthem medley" by US Marines Band
"America" by Simon & Garfunkel
"City of New Orleans" by Arlo Guthrie
"R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." by John Mellencamp
"Star Spangled Banner (live)" by Marvin Gaye
"The Shot Heard 'Round the World" from Schoolhouse Rock
"The Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton
"When Johnny Comes Marching Home" by Mitch Miller & the Gang
"Surfin' USA" by the Beach Boys
"Journey to Fort Sedgwick" by John Barry (from Dances with Wolves)
"Going Up the Country" by Canned Heat
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver
"America the Beautiful" by Ray Charles
"The Great Escape Theme" by Leonard Bernstein (from The Great Escape)
"Over There" by Billy Murray
"Superman (It's Not Easy)" by Five for Fighting
"The Star Spangled Banner (live)" by Jimi Hendrix
"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by the Andrews Sisters
"People Get Ready" by the Impressions
"Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys"
by Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson
"Back in the USA" by Chuck Berry
"I'm Just a Bill" from Schoolhouse Rock
"Hail to the Chief" by US Marines Band
"Follow the Drinkin' Gourd" by the Weavers
"Home on the Range" by Roy Rogers
"My Hometown" by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
"Blowin' in the Wind" by Peter, Paul & Mary
"Young Americans" by David Bowie
"Red River Valley" by Woody Guthrie
"Battle Hymn of the Republic" by Stryper
"Tara's Theme" by Max Steiner (from Gone with the Wind)
"American Dream" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
"American Woman" by the Guess Who
"Pink Houses" by John Mellencamp
"Sufferin' 'til Suffrage from Schoolhouse Rock
"Sweet Little Sixteen" by Chuck Berry
"Born in the USA" by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
"You're a Grand Old Flag" by James Cagney
"Go Down Moses" by Paul Robeson
"American Pie" by Don McLean
"The Magnificent Seven" by Elmer Bernstein (from The Magnificent Seven)
"The Star Spangled Banner" by Whitney Houston
"God Bless America" by Kate Smith
"What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye
"Desperado" by the Eagles
"Small Town" by John Mellencamp
"William Tell Overture" by Gioachino Rossini (from The Lone Ranger)
"Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver
"I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" by Country Joe & the Fish
"Centerfield" by John Fogerty
"America" by Neil Diamond

I do need to get some stuff from the musical 1776 and, hopefully, from the musical Hamilton.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Best Anti-War Movies

10) Full Metal Jacket (1987)

9) Apocalypse Now (1979)

8) Saving Private Ryan (1998)

7) The Deer Hunter (1978)

6) Platoon (1986)

5) Dr. Strangelove (1964)

4) Empire of the Sun (1987)

3) The Hurt Locker (2008)

2) All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

1) Paths of Glory (1957)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Best Jesus Movies

1 - Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

2 - Ben Hur (1959)

3 - The Passion of the Christ (2004)

4 - The Miracle Maker (2000)

5 - King of Kings (1961)

6 - The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

7 - The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)

8 - Jesus (2000)

9 - Son of God (2014)

10 - Son of Man (1969)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Easter letter 2016

"Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again;
death no longer has dominion over him.
The death he died, he died to sin, once for all;
but the life he lives, he lives to God.
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin
and alive to God in Christ Jesus."

- Romans 6:9-11

The Lent-to-Easter journey is the journey from death to life, from alienation to love, from darkness to light, from despair to hope. During Lent, we reflect upon our own sinfulness in the shadow of Jesus’ suffering and death. We do this not to punish ourselves but to prepare ourselves to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection on Easter Sunday and, more importantly, to allow the Holy Spirit to form us into more faithful disciples of Jesus in the year ahead.

It is a journey out of sin and into holiness. That’s not easy! Sin, after all, is quite attractive! It is the ultimate self-service!

But Easter calls us to something greater than serving ourselves. Jesus’ Resurrection calls us to put “self” aside and seek God’s ways, which we call holiness. We are called to see others as God sees them, to offer mercy as we have been shown mercy, to forgive as God has forgiven us, to love as we are loved by a God who gave everything to be with us.

This does not mean we simply ignore sin, evil, and injustice; quite the opposite! Easter calls us to recognize sin wherever it exists and to name it as sin. But we are called to offer life in the midst of sin, rather than offering condemnation.

We are called to BE the Lent-to-Easter journey for people in our lives. Through holiness (living as God calls us to live, not according to our own opinions or whatever “feels right”), we are called to lead persons from death to life, from alienation to love, from darkness to light, from despair to hope.

This is what it means to be “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus”. This is the Easter hope for all creation!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Considerations for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

If I were given dictatorial powers over the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I would surely not induct all of these artists, but these are artists with significant cases to be made for induction. The exclusion of a few (marked with an asterix) is a real shame & serves as an indictment of the Hall of Fame voters.

Possible inductees as Early Influences:
Charley Patton
Roy Brown
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
WC Handy
Wynonie Harris
The Carter Family
Lightnin' Hopkins
Sonny Boy Williamson II
The Clovers
Chuck Willis
Big Mama Thornton
The Penguins
Lonnie Donegan

Possible inductees as Artists
(* means this is long overdue;
# means female possibility):

The Five Satins
Johnny Burnette & the Rock & Roll Trio
Slim Harpo
* Larry Williams
# The Chantels
* Link Wray
# The Chordettes
# The Marvelettes
Chubby Checker
* # Patsy Cline
The Tokens
Jr. Walker & the All Stars
Ben E. King
Big Walter Horton
Dick Dale & His Del-Tones
Arthur Alexander
# Mary Wells
# The Shangri-Las
The Zombies
Tom Jones
# Sonny & Cher
Aaron Neville / The Neville Brothers
* The Monkees
Procol Harum
The Bar-Kays
* The Moody Blues
Joe Cocker
* Tommy James & the Shondells
The Guess Who
Quicksilver Messenger Service
King Crimson
# Joan Baez
Ravi Shankar
T. Rex
Three Dog Night
Jethro Tull
Harry Nilsson
The Spinners
* Yes
JJ Cale
# Dolly Parton
Donny Hathaway
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
# Delaney & Bonnie
Todd Rundgren
Barry White
* Bad Company
* Billy Preston
The Doobie Brothers
Gram Parsons
Roxy Music
Glen Campbell
Thin Lizzy
The Commodores
Jimmy Buffett
# The B-52s
Warren Zevon
* # Chic
Cliff Richard & the Shadows
*# Pat Benatar
Electric Light Orchestra / Jeff Lynne
Kool & the Gang
Judas Priest
Willie Nelson
The J Geils Band
Dire Straits
# The Go Gos
Rick James
# Stevie Nicks
Culture Club
Iron Maiden
Herbie Hancock
"Weird Al" Yankovic
# Eurythmics
Steve Winwood
# Chaka Khan
Joy Division / New Order
# Cyndi Lauper
The Cure
# Tina Turner
The Cars
Phil Collins
Mötley Crüe
Bon Jovi
Los Lobos
# The Bangles
The Smiths
# Janet Jackson
Traveling Wilburys
Nine Inch Nails
# Sinéad O'Connor
Jane's Addiction
Garth Brooks
LL Cool J

Not eligible yet but should be considered when eligible:
Pearl Jam
Alanis Morissette
Smashing Pumpkins
Amy Winehouse
Taylor Swift

Possible inductees as Non-Performers:
Jerry Ragavoy
Boudleaux Bryant & Felice Bryant
Don Cornelius
Bob Crewe
Geoff Emerick
Brian Eno
Jimmy Iovine
Casey Kasem
Lorne Michaels
Norman Petty
Barrett Strong & Norman Whitfield
Bernie Taupin
Wolfman Jack

Possible inductees as Sidemen / Award for Musical Excellence
(perhaps the Hall's most neglected category;
* means this is long overdue):

Lee Allen
Richard "Pistol" Allen
Kenny Aronoff
Fred Below
Gene Chrisman
Merry Clayton
Ray Cooper
Jim Gordon
Johnny Griffith
* Nicky Hopkins
Jim Horn
Joe Hunter
Bruce Johnston
* The Jordanaires
* Carol Kaye
Jim Keltner
* Bobby Keys
* The Memphis Horns
Maceo Parker
* Mick Ronson
The Spiders from Mars
* Sam "The Man" Taylor
Tammi Terrell
* Tommy Tedesco
Earl Van Dyke
Robert White

Bands to induct retroactively
(as done with the Crickets, the Comets, etc)

Big Brother & the Holding Company
The Belmonts
The Revolution
The Wailers

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Dilution of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

When the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame began inducting artists in 1986 & 1987, it was obvious that the first to enter would be the "founding fathers (& mothers)", those who were most responsible for creating this wonderful music. It was easy to choose Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin & others. They established the foundation upon which all others have built.

Once those originators were inducted, it was time to move on to other god-like figures who helped further the music & our culture - the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, etc. The list of the first 20 years of inductees (1986-2006) is a list of the greatest of greats.

A curious thing happened after about 20 years of enjoying (for the most part) stellar choices for induction. In 2006, Miles Davis was inducted. A truly iconic jazz great, many fans wondered what impact Miles Davis actually had on rock & roll, if any at all. Two years later, Leonard Cohen, a fine songwriter, was inducted as an artist rather than as a non-performer, which seemed a puzzling decision, given that similar inductees such as Carole King were inducted as writers not as artists.

In 2010, things really began to baffle. For the first time, a class was inducted in which no induction was really necessary to tell the story of rock & roll. ABBA, Genesis, Jimmy Cliff, the Hollies & the Stooges were all fine artists who surely belong in any "Hall of Very Good", but none were as truly impactful as those inducted in the first 15 or 20 years of the Hall of Fame.

2011 saw the induction of perhaps the most unworthy class of all-time. Again, Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Dr. John & Tom Waits all had admirable careers, but, with the exception of the truly great Darlene Love (who should have been inducted decades ago), none forged a résumé or developed an influence anything close to those inducted in the Hall's first 20 (or so) years. I have been at the Hall of Fame in Cleveland & have watched the film of the inductees list, and I can say without hesitation that when this class was displayed, there was bewilderment.

Since then, each year has seen the induction of several artists who simply lack the cachet of earlier inductees. Guns n'Roses surely belong; was Laura Nyro necessary? Rush & Heart are fine bands; they are hardly Cream or the Who. Randy Newman & Donna Summer...fine careers, unnecessary inductions. The same is true for Hall & Oates, KISS (a fan favorite, admittedly), Cheap Trick, Chicago & Steve Miller. Of this year's class, Deep Purple may be worthy, but only NWA is a must.

I say this not disparage any of the above named artists, some of whom are among my favorites. But we have seen in recent years a dilution of the excellence of the Hall of Fame. At one time, it contained only immortals. Now, as my own generation prepares (one would think) to take over the induction process, it has been significantly watered down.

Some have said that the induction process is tainted by a desire to have a star-studded evening on induction night. I sincerely hope this is not the case. I hope that those responsible for the process are simply more responsible than that.

The truth is that rock & roll music is not the force it once was and the music made from (roughly) 1955-1970 serves as the high water mark for rock & roll. Great artists are simply not as plentiful as they once were.

I would rather see an induction night once every 3 or 5 years than further dilution of a Hall that should truly only contain immortals.

(For a complete list of inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, go here.)