Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2021

Billy Preston, Kraftwerk, Todd Rundgren, LL Cool J, finally

Here are two possibly contradictory things. I know that who gets, or doesn’t get, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t equate with their talent, commercial success, or “worthiness.” And, for the most part, I am really quite happy who got in this season. Here was my wish list. Maybe next year for Chaka Khan and Devo.

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reveals its 2021 Inductees, celebrating the most diverse list of Inductees in the history of the organization.”

Performer Category

go gosTina Turner – for a time, she and Fela Kuti were vying for the top spot on the fan ballot. In the end, Tina won going away. I didn’t vote for her because she was already in, with Ike Turner and I chose to vote for those who weren’t in at all. But I’m not complaining, as I have two of her solo albums.
The Best 

Carole King – she ended up sixth on the five performer ballot. I didn’t vote for her either, as she was in as a songwriter with Gerry Goffin. But no complaints here, even though Tapestry is the only album of hers I own.
Jazzman 

The Go-Go’s – came in third in the fan voting. I voted for them and saw them perform 30 years ago in Albany. 
We Got The Beat 

JAY-Z – near the bottom of the fan vote, but an understandable pick.
Song Cry 

Foo Fighters – in the top five of the fan vote. I didn’t vote for them, primarily because Dave Grohl was already in the Rock Hall with Nirvana. But I like Grohl. He’s been Touring in a Van, Interviewing Rock Stars and; Performing with His Daughter. 
Everlong 

Todd Rundgren – YES! His third time on the ballot is the charm. He’s been my #1 or #2 pick each year. Nazz, Utopia, solo work, plus producing.
Appropriately, Just One Victory 

Early Influence Award

Kraftwerk – it was on the ballot about a dozen times. Not this year, but they got in anyway, and that’s great.
list from J. Eric Smith.

Charley Patton  – Wikipedia says (April 1891 (probable) – April 28, 1934) he was an American Delta blues musician. Considered by many to be the ‘Father of the Delta Blues’, he created an enduring body of American music and inspired most Delta blues musicians.
Spoonful Blues 

Gil Scott-Heron – an inspired choice. In case you don’t know, “his music… influenced and foreshadowed later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo-soul.”
We Almost Lost Detroit 

Musical Excellence Award

This is an odd category. It used to be the “sidemen” award for folks such as Motown’s James Jamerson or Hal Blaine of the Wrecking Crew. But, under the new title, it has included Ringo Starr.

LL Cool J – I’ve been pushing for him for years, and I voted for him this year, but he was in the bottom two of the popular vote.
I Need Love 

Billy Preston – MY FAVORITE CHOICE. Nearly a decade ago, I made the case why he should be included. 
My Sweet Lord (live)

Randy Rhoads – I must admit, I know the name, but not the body of work from Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osborne
Solos 

Ahmet Ertegun Award

Clarence Avant – read the Wikipedia article about the Black Godfather, who made black music more visible.

Yeah, there are more musicians to get in. But I must make my annual appeal for Estelle Axton in this category.

Our month of theater, or theatre, if you will

“‘Beautiful’ could have easily been nothing more than another cliched jukebox musical gathering together the hits by songwriters of the Brill Building era.”

We go to the theater a fair amount, but the first half of April 2017 was quite the outlier.

Sunday, April 2: The Little Mermaid – Catskill High School (three of us)

One of my nieces was in her fifth production, and the three of us have seen them all. This was her largest role yet, playing Flounder. She was quite good, actually, and I say this not out of familial loyalty.

In general the girls were better singers than the boys. Ariel’s sisters were fine as were Ursula’s assistants. But the hits were Sebastian (Edward Donahue), Ariel (Ade Spencer) and especially Ursula (Anna White).

Thursday, April 6: The Sound of Music – Proctors Theatre, Schenectady (three of us)

Proctors has had Broadway-quality productions for a number of years, and this was no exception. The trick with the musical is that the movie is so imprinted in the brain. My Favorite Thing is sung at the abbey, Do-Re-Mi at the Trapp villa, and The Lonely Goatherd in Maria’s bedroom, when she calms the children freaked out by the thunderstorm.

While the two leads (Charlotte Maltby, Nicholas Rodriguez) are fine, and the children are amazingly good, the largest applause went to Melody Betts as Mother Superior after she sang Climb Ev’ry Mountain.

We bought tickets for next season’s shows, including Fun Home, The Color Purple, Finding Neverland and On Your Feet! (the Gloria Estafan story). Buying a subscription THIS year will mean getting dibs on buying toicxkets for Hamilton in 2018-2019.

(Only somewhat off topic: Alison Bechdel is Vermont’s cartoonist laureate. She created Fun Home.)

Saturday, April 8, 2017: They Built America: The Workers of the Erie Canal – local school (two of us)

This is a Capital Rep show commemorating the 200th anniversary of the groundbreaking of the engineering feat that went from Albany to Buffalo. “Meet the real men, women and children, the politicians, farmers, merchants and laborers who…[built] the Erie Canal.” There are four actors, and three of them, the two men and one of the women, play multiple parts. It was quite good, about an hour long and suitable for children.

The Daughter should have come.

Sunday, April 9: Oliver! – Albany High School (two of us)

This was, aside from some occasional sound problems, extraordinarily good. I was’t familiar with the story, though I sang Consider Yourself in glee club in high school. It’s a dark, sordid, violent tale.

The standout were the terrifying Bill Sykes (Ackazemas Myers), the show-stopping singer Nancy (Williemae Fiddemon), and the shifty Fagen (Raphael Cohen), who had a fun bit with the violinist in the orchestra. Oliver was played by sixth-grader Hassan Laing who was good, but occasionally miked badly.

Saturday, April 15: Beautiful: the Carole King Story – Proctors Theatre, Schenectady (two of us)

I saw this on the calendar months ago and said, Who scheduled this for Holy Week?” It’s only on the Wednesday through Sunday. I have to sing or rehearse or travel the other days. Based on the packed house for this matinee, many folks were in the same boat.

Just from casual conversation with the folks around the Wife and me, it was clear that almost everyone knew the Tapestry album from 1971 but few were familiar with the songwriting of Carole King (the wonderful Julia Knitel) with husband Gerry Goffin (Liam Tobin) well before that, competing to get their songs pitched to the right singer or group that might make their songs #1.

As Greg Haymes noted in Nippertown: “‘Beautiful’ could have easily been nothing more than another cliched jukebox musical gathering together the hits by songwriters of the Brill Building era, i.e., ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’ (Leiber and Stoller) or ‘Leader of the Pack’ (Ellie Greenwich). But thanks to some smart, comic dialogue by Douglas McGrath, deft direction by Marc Bruni and strong, all-around performances by the cast, ‘Beautiful’ is a snappy musical that rises above the level of the usual jukebox musical expectations.

“But it’s not all about King, and the title of the show is something of a misnomer. The secondary couple – portraying the songwriting team of Cynthia Weil (Erika Olson) and Barry Mann (Ben Fankhauser) – and their music is crucial.”

Yes, it wasn’t just a Kingfest, as the early “1650 Broadway Medley” had songs from Neil Sedaka (singer of “Oh, Carol”), Leiber and Stoller, Phil Spector and many others. The Mann/Weil hit You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling was a standout.

But Act 2 belonged to the former Carole Klein. I LOVED this show.

Music, February 1971: Tapestry

Producer Lou Adler wanted the listeners to visualize Carole King sitting at the piano just for them.

More random music recollections based on the book Never A Dull Moment.

Carole King was in the music business for a lot of years. As a kid who used to read the liner notes, I discovered she was the King in (Gerry) Goffin-King songwriting duo. But in 1971, she invented the album business. Tapestry was recorded in January of that year. A&M house photographer Jim McCrary had tried various pictures around the house before adding the cat Telemachus into the shot.

Tapestry was released on February 10, 1971, the day after her 29th birthday. This is the first ad, from Billboard Magazine. I know that I didn’t purchase it until the summer; I bought the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers the same day. Some years later, I got it again, because I had worn out the grooves. Finally, I acquired it on CD.

Producer Lou Adler wanted to make an album with that demo quality. “He wanted the listeners to visualize Carole King sitting at the piano just for them.” It spent an astonishing 15 weeks at #1 on the US album charts, long after the singles had faded. “By the end of the year, it was still selling 150,000 copies a week in the United States alone.” It was the first “evergreen” album that wasn’t a movie soundtrack or the like.

Two other albums recorded in the same studio the same month were Joni Mitchell’s Blue, one of my favorite albums of all time, and the only Carpenters album I owned, their third. Liking Carpenters’ music was REALLY uncool in the day.

Jesus Christ Superstar was #1 for three weeks during this time. It was a hugely significant source of my understanding/debate about theology and religion, particularly with my friend Pat. It seemed she and I would debate its merits for hours. I knew this album like my daughter knows Hamilton. I always wanted to play Peter.

Pearl, the posthumous album by Janis Joplin, spent nine weeks at #1. I recall working at a factory in 1972 and singing Mercedes Benz, one of the few songs written by Janis. Someone asked me if it were a song by the Temptations; I found that extraordinarily amusing at the time.

Listen to:
Coverville 1159: The Carole King Cover Story II
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – Carole King with the Mitchell-Taylor Boy-and-Girl Choir
You’ve Got a Friend – James Taylor
Little Green – Joni Mitchell
Rainy Days and Mondays – Carpenters
Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin
Just My Imagination – the Temptations
What’s the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying – Jesus Christ Superstar

Kennedy Center Honors 2015

I remember buying my copy of Tapestry somewhere in Binghamton, NY, along with Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones.

Rita Moreno bookAs I’ve noted over the years, I LOVE the Kennedy Center Honors. The event generally takes place in DC the first weekend in December and is broadcast on CBS-TV at the end of the month. The celebration of the honorees’ Lifetime Artistic Achievements took place on Sunday, December 6, and will be aired on CBS on Tuesday, December 29 at 9:00 p.m., ET/PT. This year’s honorees are Carole King, George Lucas, Rita Moreno, Seiji Ozawa, and Cicely Tyson.

Rita Moreno – if she were in nothing but the movie West Side Story – a pivotal film in my life – I’d be a big fan, but she accomplished so much more and, as she indicated in this interview, had to fight the Latina actress stereotypes.

She’s won the EGOT:
OSCAR: Best Supporting Actress (1961) West Side Story (Anita del Carmen)
GRAMMY: Best Album for Children (1973) Electric Company
TONY: Best Featured Actress in a Play (1975) The Ritz
EMMY: Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program (1977) The Muppet Show; Outstanding Guest Actress – Drama Series (1978) The Rockford Files

Even though I was in college by then, I was a huge fan of The Electric Company, and she was a big reason.

WATCH:
West Side Story-America
Electric Company – STOP!
Muppet Show – Fever
Rockford Files
***
George Lucas – the writer/producer/director made a bunch of movies I enjoyed tremendously. The first was American Graffiti; a couple of the movie’s actors ended up in 1950s-based sitcoms, Ron Howard (Richie on Happy Days), and Cindy Williams (Cindy on Laverne &…) The film also featured some carpenter-actor named Harrison Ford, who later starred in Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy, and the Indiana Jones trilogy, all of which I enjoyed (except Indy 2, which I’ve never seen).

All that hate for Star Wars 1: I didn’t enjoy it, but it was just a movie. All that nerdy nuance about the films, some brought on by Lucas himself – Han shot first! – is beyond my interest. Oh and he likes Star Wars 7.

I see Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, on CBS News frequently.

WATCH:
American Graffiti (1973) – Original Trailer
Star Wars (1977) Original Trailer
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Theatrical Trailer
READ:
The Other Side of The Other Side of Midnight
***
Cicely TysonI wrote about her at length only a couple of years ago.

WATCH:
The Bold Move That Left Cicely Tyson’s First TV Director Speechless And Sparked A National Movement
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
Cicely Tyson on Roots, Grief and Strength
The Marva Collins Story (1981)
***
Seiji Ozawa – Though he had been the conductor for the San Francisco Symphony early in his career, I know him best from him leading the Boston Symphony. I’d see him on TV fairly often, and as he got older I recognized him as much for his style, and his coif as anything.

WATCH:
What’s My Line? – Seiji Ozawa (1963, TV Show)
Tchaikovsky Overture 1812
Beethoven Symphony No 5
Seiji Ozawa’s 80th Birthday
***
Carole King – Her life was so amazing that they turned it into a hit Broadway musical, Beautiful, which will be going on a national tour shortly. She is a songwriter, early on primarily with her then-husband, the late Gerry Goffin; they are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I found this list of 17 Popular Songs You Never Knew Were Written By Carole King, with links, but mostly, I DID know.

If you went to college in the US in the early 1970s, either you had a copy of her massively successful album Tapestry, or your roommate did; it may have been mandated by Congress. I remember buying my copy somewhere in Binghamton, NY, along with Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones. Tapestry was number one on the Billboard 200 for 15 consecutive weeks, and on the charts for over five years in a row.

Her Jazzman was covered by Lisa Simpson in an early episode of the TV cartoon The Simpsons. Where You Lead was the theme song of the TV show Gilmore Girls, sung by one Louise Goffin, daughter of Carole and Gerry.

LISTEN to Carole King:
Jazzman
It’s Too Late
So Far Away
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, with the Mitchell-Taylor Boy-and-Girl Choir

The Everly Brothers -Crying In the Rain (1962)
KCH2015

M is for Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil

Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame occurred during the 50th year of their personal and professional collaboration.

mann-weil2In the hit Broadway show Beautiful: the Carole King Musical, the characters portraying songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil express having a complicated relationship with competing songwriters King and her then-husband, the late Gerry Goffin, back in the 1960s.

From a February 2015 CBS Sunday Morning interview: “That was absolute truth,” replied Weil. “It was the most conflicting relationship I think we’ve ever had with anybody. Because we loved them, we hated them, we were competitive with them, we cheered for them, we cheered for ourselves.”

You may never have heard of Barry Mann (b. February 9, 1939, in Brooklyn, New York City) and Cynthia Weil (b. October 18, 1940, in New York City), but it is most likely that you have listened to their many songs, most of which are linked HERE, and many of which charted.

“Blame It on the Bossa Nova” – Eydie Gorme
“Don’t Know Much” – Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt (written with Tom Snow)
“He’s Sure the Boy I Love” – The Crystals
“Hungry” – Paul Revere & the Raiders
“Kicks” – Paul Revere & The Raiders
“Make Your Own Kind of Music” – “Mama” Cass Elliot
“On Broadway” – The Drifters; George Benson (written with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller)
“Only in America” – The Drifters (unreleased); Jay and the Americans
“Somewhere Out There” – Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram
“The Shape of Things to Come” – Max Frost and the Troopers
“Walking in the Rain” – The Ronettes; The Walker Brothers
“We Gotta Get out of This Place” – The Animals
“Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp) – Barry Mann (written with Gerry Goffin)
“(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” – The Righteous Brothers; Donny and Marie Osmond
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” – The Righteous Brothers; Dionne Warwick; Hall & Oates; Roberta Flack-Donny Hathaway (written with Phil Spector)

In 1987, they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. Their bio notes:

They’re… one of the longest-running teams in the music business, having been collaborators since 1960. Their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame occurred during the 50th year of their personal and professional collaboration.

In addition to longevity, they’ve exhibited great stylistic range in their work, from epic ballads… to outright rockers… They are also among pop’s most prolific songwriters as well; Mann has nearly 800 and Weil nearly 600 works registered with Broadcast Music, Inc. It’s estimated that Mann and Weil’s songs are responsible for the sale of 200 million records.

They have been married since 1961.

Mann’s other movie work includes the scores for I Never Sang for My Father and Muppet Treasure Island, and songs for National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Oliver and Company. He is an occasional recorded singer and active photographer.

“In 2004, Mann and Weil’s They Wrote That?, a musical revue based on their songs, opened in New York. In it, Mann sang and Weil related stories about the songs and their personal history.”

ABC Wednesday – Round 16