Playing the Grohl game with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

“I bet Dave Grohl is the one who nominated them.”
“Dave Grohl will show up. He’d give the speech.”
“Who was THEIR champion in the room? Probably Dave Grohl.”
“Dave Grohl plays the game.”

Almost six years ago, right after Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its first year of eligibility, everyone with even a passing interest in the Hall wondered what effect having Dave Grohl as a member of the nominating committee would have on the future of the institution.

Years after he inducted Queen in 2001, Grohl went on a remarkable three-year run with HBO’s HOF showcase, sandwiching his own iconic induction and performance in 2014 with an induction and performance with Rush in 2013 and another induction performance with Joan Jett in 2015. As Hall watchers like to say, he’s “played the game” for years.

So, I mean, c’mon … we ALL knew he wouldn’t just be a voter, and we were right. He got in the room almost immediately.

We know, based on the compilation work of the great Hall resource, Future Rock Legends, Grohl is responsible for Bad Brains, Jane’s Addiction, and Devo ending up on ballots. He’s a huge proponent for Lemmy and Motorhead. And he was one of the loudest voices for Ringo Starr’s solo induction, which led to this, which is absolutely the most Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ever Rock and Roll Hall of Famed:

I don’t remember when it was or where it was exactly, but I remember FRL – probably on Twitter – positing the idea that maybe those of us invested in the institution should take a good look at Grohl’s musical documentary work to get an idea of who this so-called “ambassador of rock” might take up arms for in the future.

As far as I can tell, they never did it.

So … I did it for them. The following might be a good barometer for what might be in store from the Head Foo In Charge.

Here we go:

FOO FIGHTERS: BACK AND FORTH (2011)

The band’s 2011 documentary – while also using many songs from the Foos’ previous bands: Scream, Nirvana, Germs, Sunny Day Real Estate, Alanis Morissette, and Queens of the Stone Age – opens with private home movie footage of the band’s five core members, over a mishmash of songs that inspired the group as youngsters.

The opening credit songs include:

  • Queen, “You’re My Best Friend”
  • Sex Pistols, “Pretty Vacant”
  • Motorhead, “Ace of Spades”
  • Dead Kennedys, “Stealing People’s Mail”
  • Foo Fighters, “Iron And Stone ” (The Obsessed cover)
  • Ramones, “We Want The Airwaves”
  • Scream, “Bet You Never Thought”
  • Hüsker Dü, “Dead Set On Destruction”
  • Fugazi, “Waiting Room”
  • The Jesus Lizard, “Nub”

In addition to being a long-form historical document about the band’s evolution, “Back and Forth” also chronicles the making of the band’s 2011 album, “Wasting Light.” Along with welcoming Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic back into the fold, indie rock legend Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar) also makes an appearance in the film, recording his guest spot on the album track “Dear Rosemary.”

Mould’s appearance is noteworthy in that it preceded Grohl’s appearance in Mould’s own documentary – 2012’s “See a Little Light: A Celebration of the Music and Legacy of Bob Mould.” It’s especially noteworthy all because of one scene … where Dave flat-out asks Bob if he can give the induction speech when Mould gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

SOUND CITY (2013)

Grohl’s documentary about the legendary recording studio basically was the trial run for the “Sonic Highways” series – Episode 0, if you will.

Grohl threw the doors open and interviewed pretty much anybody who wanted to talk about their experiences in the studio: Hall of Fame icons like Tom Petty, Neil Young, John Fogerty, and Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks; his contemporaries from bands like Weezer, Rage Against The Machine, and Pixies frontman Frank Black; and even right down to ‘80s niche stars like Rick Springfield, REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin, Pat Benatar’s guitarist (and husband) Neil Giraldo, and Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy and Warren DeMartini.

What’s notable isn’t necessarily who he interviewed – obviously, nobody consulted him when they chose to record at Sound City in the ’70s and ’80s – but who ended up participating on the film’s “soundtrack album.”

When Sound City closed its doors, Grohl bought the studio’s famed Neve Console (in the film, Grohl says “this thing is a piece of rock and roll history. I thought that board would just go straight to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”) and installed it in his home studio, inviting scores of musicians – dubbed the Sound City Players – to jam and record all-new compositions.

Let’s take a look the track listing of the film’s companion album, “Sound City: From Real to Reel”
(keep in mind that Grohl also plays on every track):

  • “Heaven and All” (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Robert Levon Been and Peter Hayes)
  • “Time Slowing Down” (Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age producer Chris Goss of Masters of Reality, along with Rage Against The Machine’s Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk)
  • “You Can’t Fix This” (Stevie Nicks, with several of the Foo Fighters)
  • “The Man That Never Was” (Rick Springfield, with several of the Foo Fighters)
  • “Your Wife Is Calling” (punk legend Lee Ving of Fear, with longtime Palm Desert Scene contributor Alain Johannes and several of the Foo Fighters)
  • “From Can to Can’t” (Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, with Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and Kyuss bassist Scott Reeder)
  • “Centipede” (Joshua Homme of Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age, with Goss and Johannes)
  • “A Trick With No Sleeve” (Homme and Johannes)
  • “Cut Me Some Slack” (Paul McCartney with the surviving members of Nirvana)
  • “If I Were Me” (Foo Fighters violinist Jessy Greene and keyboardist Rami Jaffee, with studio drum king Jim Keltner, a.k.a. the “other” Traveling Wilbury)
  • “Mantra” (Grohl and Homme with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor)

Worth mentioning: one of the discarded tracks allegedly featured Corey Taylor, Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy and Warren DeMartini, and longtime Dio/Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice. Alas, it missed the final cut.

Also, a significant interview comes from longtime Sound City engineer Nick Raskulinecz, whose credits have included Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains, Mastodon, Korn and Deftones. In addition, Raskulinecz played bass with Grohl and Taylor Hawkins during the “2112” performance at Rush’s 2013 Rock Hall induction (he produced Rush’s 2012 album “Clockwork Angels”).

FOO FIGHTERS: SONIC HIGHWAYS (2014)

The set-up of Grohl’s HBO series is pretty well known at this point: Along with producers Butch Vig and engineer James Brown, the Foo Fighters celebrated their 20th anniversary as a band by picking eight different studios in eight different American cities, all with a diverse and musically-rich heritage, and recording a song at each one, usually with a guest musician from that region. The eight songs then comprised their 2014 album of the same name.

Each episode also contained the following:

  • A title card for the featured city, usually accompanied by a montage of its greatest artists.
  • You arrive at the studio and meets its proprietor, sometimes accompanied by a montage of the most notable albums either recorded at that studio or by its proprietor.
  • The series had myriad interview subjects who show up in multiple episodes, but each episode typically features (right before the music video) a slow-motion montage of the most integral interview subjects for that particular episode, providing the insight into the city’s legacy.
  • Each episode ends with a music video of the finished song, which usually stars the guest musician, as well.
  • Also notable: the song that runs over the end credits.

There are tons of artists and albums to choose from here. I mean, he could have picked anybody.
So let’s take a look at who he DID pick, episode by episode:

Episode 1: Chicago

  • Song: “Something From Nothing” (guest musician: Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick)
  • Studio (proprietor): Electrical Audio (Steve Albini)
    Produced albums featured: Pixies, “Surfer Rosa”; Gogol Bordello, ”Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike”; The Breeders, “Pod”; P.J. Harvey, “Rid of Me”; The Jesus Lizard, “Goat”; Bush, “Razorblade Suitcase”; Nirvana, “In Utero”
  • City montage: Cheap Trick, Etta James, Naked Raygun, Chicago, Wilco, Gene Krupa, Kanye West, Ministry, Muddy Waters
  • Interviewees: Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Marshall Chess (producer and son of Chess Records co-founder Leonard Chess), Rick Nielsen, Naked Raygun (Jeff Pezzati, Santiago Durango, John Haggerty), teen punks Tracey Bradford (Dave’s cousin) and Jason Narducy (Bob Mould, Superchunk), Julia Nash (daughter of Wax Trax! Records co-owner Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher), Ken Ehrlich (TV producer)
  • End credits song: Naked Raygun, “Bombshelter”

Noteworthy: Grohl’s comtemporaries, the Smashing Pumpkins, were not in the city montage. By far, the biggest Chicago band of the ‘90s alt-rock explosion. For some reason, this just stuck out to me.

Episode 2: Washington, D.C.

  • Song: “The Feast and the Famine” (guest musicians: Peter Stahl and Skeeter Thompson of Scream)
  • Studio (proprietor): Inner Ear Studios (Don Zientara)
    Produced albums: None featured, but Bad Brains and Ian MacKaye’s Dischord Records are extensively profiled.
  • City montage: Marvin Gaye, Duke Ellington, Rollins Band, Nils Lofgren, Chuck Brown, Fugazi, Trouble Funk (Starland Vocal Band, ironically)
  • Interviewees: Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi), Seth Hurwitz and Dante Fernando (music club owners), D.C. mayor Vincent Gray, Scream, Bad Brains, Pharrell Williams, Big Tony Fisher (Trouble Funk), RDGLDGRN, Skip Groff (record store owner), Mark Andersen and Amy Pickering (D.C. activists)
  • End credits song: Fugazi, “Waiting Room”

Noteworthy: I mean, if there was ever any doubt as to how Bad Brains ended up on a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot, this episode lays that to rest.

Episode 3: Nashville

  • Song: “Congregation” (guest musician: Zac Brown)
  • Studio (proprietor): Southern Ground Studios (formerly Fred Foster’s Monument Records) (Zac Brown and Matt Mangano)
    Produced albums: None shown, but Neil Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roger Miller and Kris Kristofferson are prominently mentioned as having recorded there.
  • City montage: Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Lady Antebellum, Roger Miller, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band
  • Interviewees: Dolly Parton, Steve Earle, Tony Brown (musician/producer), Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Carrie Underwood, Tony Joe White, Erika Nichols (Bluebird Café manager)
  • End credits song: Tony Joe White, “Woodpecker”

Episode 4: Austin

  • Song: “What Did I Do?/God As My Witness” (guest musician: Gary Clark Jr.)
  • Studio (proprietor): Austin City Limits Studio 6A (Terry Lickona)
    Showcased ACL shows: Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Buddy Guy, The Black Keys, Sonic Youth, Pixies, Neil Young, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, fun., Neko Case, Fats Domino, Tom Waits, Foo Fighters
  • Interviewees: Jimmy Vaughan, Gibby Haynes (Butthole Surfers), Jimmie Dale Gilmore (The Flatlanders), Gary Clark Jr., Terry Lickona (Austin City Limits executive producer), Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators), Tim Kerr (Big Boys), Darin Klein (SXSW festival producer), David Yow (The Jesus Lizard)
  • End credits song: 13th Floor Elevators, “Two-Headed Dog”

Episode 5: Los Angeles

  • Song: “Outside” (guest musician: Joe Walsh)
  • Studio (proprietor): Rancho De La Luna (David Catching and Fred Drake)
  • City montage: The Beach Boys, The Mamas and the Papas, Love, The Doors, Linda Ronstadt, The Runaways, Motley Crue, Red Hot Chili Peppers, N.W.A, Beck. (plus, the Germs are prominently featured. Not a surprise, given Pat Smear’s relationship with both bands)
  • Interviewees: Joan Jett, Joe Walsh, Robby Krieger and John Densmore (The Doors), Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses), Daniel Lanois (producer), Lenny Waronker (producer), Mario Lalli (Palm Desert icon), Dave Catching and Hutch (Rancho co-founder and sound engineer), Josh Homme (Kyuss, Queens of the Stones Age), Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys), Rodney Bingenheimer (legendary Los Angeles DJ), Scott Reeder (Kyuss), Chris Goss (producer/musician)
  • End credits song: Eagles of Death Metal, “Wannabe in L.A.”

Noteworthy: A love letter to the Palm Desert Scene. Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal … everything Homme will be a priority for him one day.

Episode 6: New Orleans

  • Song: “In The Clear” (guest musicians: Preservation Hall Jazz Band)
  • Studio (proprietor): Preservation Hall (Ben Jaffe)
  • City montage: Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, Big Freeda Explode, Harry Connick Jr., Little Richard, Juvenile, The Meters, Aaron Neville, Dr. John
  • Interviewees: Allen Toussaint, Cyril Neville (Neville Brothers), Ben Jaffe (musician/musical director), Trombone Shorty, Dr. John, Ronald Lewis (museum director), George Porter Jr. (The Meters), Tracey Freeman (producer)
  • End credits song: Glen Campbell, “Southern Nights”

Episode 7: Seattle

  • Song: “Subterranean” (guest musician: Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie)
  • Studio (proprietor): Robert Lang Studios (Robert Lang and producer Barrett Jones)
  • City montage: Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Melvins
    Jimi Hendrix, The Ventures, The Wailers, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Sonics, Heart
  • Interviewees: Duff McKagan, Nancy Wilson (Heart), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Jack Endino (producer), Robert Lang (studio owner), Barrett Jones (producer), Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie), Larry Parypa (The Sonics), Sub Pop Records (Bruce Pavitt, Jonathan Poneman, Megan Jasper), Charles Peterson (photographer), Mark Pickerel (Screaming Trees), Macklemore
  • End credits song: Foo Fighters, “Kids In America” (recorded at Robert Lang Studios in the ’90s)

Episode 8: New York

  • Song: “I Am A River” (guest musicians: Tony Visconti and Kristeen Young)
  • Studio (proprietor): The Magic Shop (Steve Rosenthal)
    Produced albums: Coldplay, “Viva La Vida”; Arcade Fire, “The Suburbs”; Bjork, “Vespertine”; The Cranberries, “No Need To Argue”; Norah Jones, “The Fall”; David Bowie, “The Next Day”
  • City montages: New York Dolls, Ramones, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Sonic Youth, Chic, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Barry Manilow, The Notorious B.I.G., Carole King, Lou Reed, A Tribe Called Quest, Cyndi Lauper, The Ronettes, Bobby Darin, Little Eva, Manfred Mann, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Kiss, Blondie, Dead Boys, LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, Wu-Tang Clan, 50 Cent, De La Soul, Public Enemy
  • Rapid-fire N.Y. album montage: “The Velvet Underground and Nico”; Television, “Marquee Moon”; “LCD Soundsystem”; Eric B. and Rakim, “Paid In Full”; “Aaliyah”; Pete Seeger, “American Industrial Ballads”; Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue”; The Notorious B.I.G., “Ready To Die”; Grizzly Bear, “Veckatimest”; Kool Moe Dee, “How Ya Like Me Now”; Lana Del Rey, “Born to Die”; “The Great Adventures of Slick Rick”; Alicia Keys, “Songs in A Minor”; Quincy Jones, “Back On The Block”; Boogie Down Productions, “By All Means Necessary”; Barbra Streisand, “Guilty”; “The Teenagers Featuring Frankie Lymon”; Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force, “Planet Rock: The Album”; Pat Benatar, “Crimes of Passion”; “Vampire Weekend”; John Coltrane, “Blue Train”; Nas, “Illmatic”; TV On The Radio, “Return to Cookie Mountain”; Steely Dan, “Pretzel Logic”; Mary J. Blige, “Where’s the 411?”; Charlie Mingus, “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady”; Norah Jones, “Come Away With Me”; “Talking Heads: 77”
  • Interviewees: Joan Jett, David Fricke (journalist), Mike D (Beastie Boys), LL Cool J, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Tony Visconti (producer), Chuck D (Public Enemy), Steve Rosenthal (studio owner/archivist), Nora Guthrie (Woody Guthrie Productions), Jimmy Iovine, Paul Stanley (Kiss), James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem), Rick Rubin (producer), Chris Martin (Coldplay), Seymour Stein (Sire Records founder), Clive Davis (industry legend), President Barack Obama
  • End credits song: Beastie Boys, “An Open Letter to NYC”

Noteworthy: He went all out on this one. Multiple montages, both artists and albums. But more than anything, it put the CBGB scene and the birth of hip-hop squarely in the spotlight.

A special thanks to the podcast, “Who Cares About The Rock Hall?” New episodes drop every Thursday night at 11 p.m. sharp and I devour them instantly, so much so that I have a routine to drive out of the way to get gas so I’m able to enjoy each episode in its entirety on my nightly midnight commute home. And I’ve been the Joe and my buddy Teck has been the Kristen for the entirety of our 25 years of friendship.

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From the MoSS? Pit: Fleetwood Mac

This will hopefully be the last concert photo I have to take with my shitty iPhone 4S camera, which made my seats to this show (which were awesome) look super sucky. Hurry up and get here, iPhone 6!

This will hopefully be the last concert photo I have to take with my shitty iPhone 4S camera, which made my seats to this show (which were awesome) look super sucky. Hurry up and get here, iPhone 6!

 

A couple of months ago, I saw Alice Cooper in concert (not the enshrined classic-lineup Alice Cooper Band, mind you, but it still counts in my book), making him, at the time, the latest member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame I’ve seen live. By my best guess and after much obsessing, I believe this is the complete list: The Rolling Stones, Van Halen (Van Hagar, technically), Metallica, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Neil Young, Buddy Guy, the Pretenders, Black Sabbath, U2, R.E.M., Beastie Boys, Guns N’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Public Enemy, Kiss and Nirvana.

In addition, I also caught the last song of Run-DMC at Hubbard Park in Iowa City in 1996 or ’97 (I’m calling that a reach), and even though it wasn’t Parliament-Funkadelic, I DID see George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars. At Lollapalooza 2009, I caught a set by Lou Reed (in with the Velvet Underground, but not solo), and a few weeks back, even though I was in horrible position 150 yards from the stage, I caught Patti Smith at Riot Fest (counts in my book, since I was able to rock out to “Rock and Roll Nigger” just fine from where I was standing, thank you very much).

But last weekend, I knocked one of the biggest white whales off that Hall of Fame list when I saw Fleetwood Mac at the United Center in Chicago. For a guy who had Rumours in his ears as a small child, on to absolutely falling head over heels in love with Stevie Nicks and her solo records at the dawn of MTV, and finally getting smitten all over again when the reunion tour and album dropped in 1997, this was a long time coming.

And here are the reasons why this show scratched an enduring itch:

The world’s most underappreciated rhythm section

When you have bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, you have songs that have so much bottom, it almost makes you forget that they’re selling you this juggernaut of almost-sunny Southern California-style pop that took the universe by storm in the late 1970s and into the ’80s. There are doom metal bands that don’t get that much sturdy backbone from the rhythm section. It’s the most enduring part of the show, hands down.

Lindsey Buckingham, motherfucking guitar god

I don’t know how he does it. The way he plays. He doesn’t use a pick. He just does this thing, palm down, where he puts his thumb on the top string and flicks the other strings outward with his fingers. It kind of reminds me of the way my pal Jeremy (the one and only Citrus Head) used to pathetically try to play Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years” on the guitar when we were 13. Except when Lindsey Buckingham does it, it’s pure shred. Listen to the solos on “The Chain” or “You Make Loving Fun” sometime, and then after that, WATCH him play those same solos. It’s insane. And then when he pulls out his acoustic guitar for his signature piece “Big Love,” it’s just a master class of guitar virtuosity. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Well, at least not until …

Top 5, eternally

Top 5, eternally

 

 

My dark princess

You know those lists married people started making of “five people you can sleep with and NOT get divorced” (the Friends episode, you know you saw it)? Well, I always used to joke that the 1978 version of Stevie Nicks was at the top of my list. Hell, the 1981 version, at the dawn of MTV, when she made “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and “Leather and Lace” with Don Henley – those are perfect goddamn rock and roll songs (yes, let’s pause and reminsce for a second):

Anyway, back to the present. Oh my. On Friday night, she sang “Dreams.” She sang “Rhiannon.” We got “Gypsy.” Who can forget “Landslide”? Jesus, her voice is still unique and strong. But the night was complete when she emerged from the shadows – in her gold shawl and fingerless lace gloves, doing her witchy pirouette as wind chimes rang out – for “Gold Dust Woman.” Lord have mercy, she was sex on a stick.

So yeah, I don’t need 1978 Stevie anymore. I’m just fine with 2014 Stevie, thanks.

And as incredible as she was, she was only the second best part of the night.

Christine McVie, thank you for coming back

I’ve been trying to see Fleetwood Mac live ever since that 1997 reunion. For whatever reason, it never seemed to work out. I see now that was a blessing in disguise.

You see, Christine McVie retired from the band after that outing and stayed sidelined for 16 years. I love Stevie, but I can’t imagine hearing “Don’t Stop” or any other Mac anthem on which Christine is featured prominently with anyone’s voice BUT Christine’s. Thankfully, I didn’t have to find out.

We got everything we wanted from her this weekend (well, except “Hold Me.” My favorite Mac song. A Christine staple, in my book. Unfortunately, they didn’t play it. So I’m just gonna tuck this here so my experience with the band can be all-inclusive):

But yeah … “You Make Loving Fun” was majestic. “Say You Love Me” and “Everywhere” were enchanting. Even “Little Lies,” which has never been one of my favorites, sounded bad-ass and downright heavy live.

But when she closed the show with “Songbird,” her signature piece, it made me thankful I had to wait 16 years to experience this band. I can’t say this enough: If you want to see this band, do it. Now. Don’t wait. You may have seen them before, but maybe it was without Christine. Right now? She’s back. You might not get another chance.

Waited a lifetime to see this band. It was worth the wait.

Fleetwood Mac was an enormous part of a memorable night. But they weren’t the only part …

Talk about a lifetime meeting

Once upon a time, I had this friend named Molly. We met when I was still wet behind the ears, still trying to figure out who I was gonna be as a freshman away from home for the first time at the University of Iowa.

Molly when I first met her … and me when I first met her.

 

I met her when I was taking freshman rhetoric (which is strange, because she wasn’t a freshman), one of those classes that are interactive and encourage people to share ideas (I always justified her being in this class as her being awesome enough to say, “Fuck it. I’m just gonna take my rhetoric requirement when I’m a sophomore because I can do whatever the fuck I want.”). Anyway, instead of just lumping myself in with the other kids I assumed were like me, this blonde bombshell locked eyes with me and motioned for me to come on over. What the actual fuck? Girls like this who didn’t already know me from before do NOT seek ME out. But for reasons I still don’t understand, this girl wanted to be friends with me, not the other way around.

As I got to know her, she just killed me. She was funny. She was inclusive and engaging. Witty and articulate. Intelligent. And oh yeah, hot. Always with the black leather jacket. I seem to remember she liked to drink whiskey and take shots of Jager. One day, some dude picked her up in front of the English-Philosophy Building on his motorcycle, like she was the bad girl in Grease or something, and I just remember saying, “Jesus Christ, she’s so fucking bad-ass.” I shook my head and chuckled and just kept walking to class, realizing I had some work to do in life if I ever wanted THAT.

We were never the kind of friends who called each other or made plans together. But for the next two years, we didn’t just keep walking if we saw each other on the street. Every single time, we stopped and talked. If we saw each other out and about, we ended up getting drinks and ignoring everyone else we went to the bar with. Because of her and who she is and how she acts and because she invited me over upon seeing me in that class after 25 seconds, I’ve never really been afraid to approach anyone if I felt like I wanted to know them, even if they were “out of my league.” That was Molly.

In the fall of 1994, I remember seeing her on the street between Van Allen Hall and the Que Bar. We talked. I remember I was holding a poster I had just bought for my first apartment (I think it was of Janis Joplin at Woodstock). After a few minutes, we said, “see ya later.”

Then … whoosh, she was gone. I never saw her again in the entire time I was at Iowa. I figured she must have graduated. Or transferred. Whatever …

And then 14 years came and went. I mean, there wasn’t always Google. Or Friendster or MySpace. Once she was gone, I had no idea how to find her. She was gone.

I hate giving it too much credit, but what’s true is true – Facebook changed it. Mark Zuckerberg will always have my eternal gratitude for that. I found her there six years ago, in an exchange that will always makes me smile when I think about it. Ever since then, we share birthday greetings. We talk about the Hawks. I see photos of her doing BTN fun runs in Iowa gear, complete with knee-high gold Hawkeye socks. She sees me posting links to my blogs at Music or Space Shuttle? and blathering on about whatever movies, TV shows or records I’m currently loving or hating.

But we still never talked, let alone actually saw each other.

What does this have to do with Fleetwood Mac?

Friday night, for the first time in 20 years, Molly and I hung out again. In person. The Mac brought us together. We had drinks. We caught up. I got to hang with her and her girlfriends, one of which went to Riot Fest like me … however, she did NOT skip Slayer for Jane’s Addiction like I regretfully did (which, by the way, when she said it, was the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard. Chicks who dig metal … swoon).

So it was a glorious night. I just hope I don’t have to wait 20 years to do it again.

Let us know what you think. Sound off in the comments here at Music or Space Shuttle? Have your say on our Facebook page. Yell at us on Twitter.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Festivus: Sam’s Airing of Grievances

Editor’s note: Remember that guy who wrote about Kiss? Sam’s back with some Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musings. I think this guy is passing the audition. Mainly because he mentioned the Cure again, which keeps him in my good graces. Plus, he writes one fucking thing and sets a one-day high in Music or Space Shuttle? traffic! This tells me that Sam has awesome friends who click stuff he shares on Facebook, AND that Todd and I need better, more-likely-to-click-our-links Facebook friends. (By the way, you can find all MoSS? posts at our Facebook page. Click the “Like” button on the right side of the page.) –Chris


rock and roll hall of fame exterior

I’m obsessed with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Actually, I’m obsessed with all Hall of Fames in general, I guess. I pissed and moaned for days a few months ago when my main Houston Astro, Craig Biggio, missed induction. You see, it takes 75 percent of the votes to earn induction. He got 74.8 percent. They don’t round up. So after the number of ballots cast was made public, it was determined that he missed the cut by two votes.

Two!

One Hall voter came out and said he left his ballot completely empty except for a vote for ’80s pitching ace Jack Morris, justifying his refusal to vote for anybody who played during the “steroid era.” Jack Morris, who pitched in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. In the American League. Which means he pitched, at some point in time, to Jose Canseco, the only guy proud to admit before Congress that he willingly took steroids. Take a bow, genius.

Even more insane, every fall, I spend a crazy amount of time obsessing over a thing called the Survivor Hall of Fame. Yes, a Hall of Fame for the CBS reality game show. For weeks, I solicit (they would probably say troll) the hell out of former players on Twitter. I argue about it on message boards. I’ve even had my own personal rules for induction criteria published. However, there’s no physical building or artifacts. No pilgrimage to see your favorite players enshrined. Really, the Survivor Hall of Fame is essentially just a blog, with a few photos and some online interviews. You know what? I don’t care. I love Survivor so I want it done right. I care. WAAAAYYYYY too much. Sorry, Gordon.

But there’s nothing that saps my time and energy like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed by how much it matters to me. But it does. And it’s never mattered more to me than this year, because the first truly revolutionary band (Nirvana) of the generation that defines my age group (Generation X) came up for induction and got in on the first ballot. Even more significantly, after years of crying to my poor, poor friends and colleagues about the injustice of the snub, the band that helped shape my pop cultural existence (Kiss) finally got in after having to wait for 14 years. The ceremony was a couple of weeks ago now, and it’s still all I think about. I really need a life.

I engaged in plenty of back and forth on social media this season, and was fortunate to gain lots of insight from a few people much more informed than I am (check out Brian Ives, Tom Lane, and the endless resource that is Future Rock Legends, for starters). Plus, after the illuminating blog by Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz, I feel like I understand better how much politics can ruin something that represents an entity that’s supposed to be about rebellion like rock and roll.

So, in the wake of all that, the following diatribe may read like a butthurt plea supporting some of my favorite bands that don’t have a chance in hell of ever being inducted (hell, even a few I don’t really care about at all but still appreciate their significance). But the time has come for the airing of grievances … and I got a lot of problems with all of you.

ONE:

MC5 shirtless

MC5, also known as T-Shirt Zero

For me, maybe the hardest thing to reconcile with that institution are the bands that get inducted because of how “important” or “influential” they are. It can become very hypocritical (and I admit, I love most of bands that qualify in this rant) to declare something “adored but never accepted by the masses.” The Sex Pistols had one album. One. Their entire existence is one album and a tour. They imploded within two years. So where is the MC5? They had THREE albums, they had the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and many knowledgeable people would say they’re amongst the godfathers of both punk AND metal.

Also, bands like the Velvet Underground and the Stooges are in, some might say because their frontmen (Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, respectively) became rock legends later down the road. But both of those bands, when they were actually happening, never sold any records and never had any hits. But everyone who did like them started their own bands (I know, this is not an original thought, but it’s true).

runaways group photoOK, so by that rationale, who fits the bill? The Runaways. No one, and I do mean NO ONE, bought their records (except for Japanese teenagers), but …  a frontwoman who went on to greater fame solo (Joan Jett)? Check. (Not to mention Lita Ford, often considered the first lady of heavy metal). How many all-girl rock bands formed in their wake? How many of the ‘90s riot grrrl bands cite them as primary influences? Plus, “Cherry Bomb” is more recognizable than any song the Stooges ever put out (I love the Stooges, by the way). And OK, “Cherry Bomb” is one song. But my two-word rebuttal: Percy Sledge.

There’s been a lot of talk about Joan Jett going in solo (or with the Blackhearts) and the other night – fronting a reunited version of Nirvana at both the ceremony and the soon-to-be-legendary secret show they played afterward at an underground Brooklyn metal club – did a TON to help her cause. But like Linda Ronstadt, Jett’s biggest songs are cover tunes. I’d still rather see her go in with the Runaways. It will never happen, though. They’ll forever be seen as a gimmick and I don’t think they can ever get out from under that. But they belong in the argument.

And while we’re talking about influences … with all the Seattle bands coming up for induction, Motorhead should be considered. Black Flag should be considered. The Melvins should absolutely be considered. Watch some documentaries and listen to the words coming from the musicians themselves: Who introduced Dave Grohl to Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic? The Melvins. Who invented that mud tone that became grunge? The Melvins. If some of these other bands get considered for trivial reasons, so should they. They’ve been around for over 30 years now. But will they get in? Absolutely not. I think the closest they’ll come is frontman Buzz Osbourne getting namedropped by Novoselic and drummer Dale Crover getting praised by Grohl during Nirvana’s induction (it must be noted that Crover played on enough songs that ended up on both Bleach and Incesticide to be considered one of the band’s pre-Grohl drummers, but he, like Chad Channing, gets left out in the cold. More on this later …)

go-go's on rolling stone coverTWO:

Women are shamefully underrepresented in the Hall. I was worried about a lot of the divas getting the shaft…that is, up until the induction of Donna Summer. Her induction opened the doors for Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey in a huge way (all three are ridiculously talented singers with mountains of No. 1 singles, but who write little and play nothing). But if those two DON’T get in, you can absolutely forget about the likes of, say, Britney Spears (hey, stop laughing…I’m just trying to think of big stars down the road). Will Mary J. Blige or Missy Elliott be there? Is Carly Simon worthy? Because she’s not in.

The Go-Go’s or the Bangles should get a fair look, but they won’t…either not enough big hits or they weren’t together long enough.

BenatarBut the Go-Go’s do have historical significance on their side—the first all-female band that wrote and performed their own material to have a No. 1 album. They deserve a shot, because without one, will other critically adored all-girl bands such as Sleater-Kinney have a chance?

And you know who should be in the talk, especially now that Ronstadt got in? Pat Benatar. People forget just how huge she was in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The hits, the massive exposure at the dawn of MTV, the multi-platinum records and Grammys…they speak for themselves.

THREE:

The bias against hard rock and metal drives me insane. Off the top of my head, the only bands identified as heavy rock or metal that are currently in are Black Sabbath, Van Halen, AC/DC, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, and now Kiss. OK, maybe Aerosmith and Alice Cooper, too (sorry, I don’t count Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix or the Who).

Maybe I’m just annoyed that rap seems to get preferential treatment.­ To me growing up, rap and metal were truly kindred spirits—the extreme branches on the rock and roll tree, so much so that they merited their own specialty shows on MTV, metal being the extreme offshoot of rock, rap the extreme offshoot of R&B/soul. So why is one more important than the other? Look, I love Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy as much as the next guy. Love them. They absolutely deserve to be in. But why is it that the rap groups always get in on the first ballot, but a groundbreaking band like Sabbath—who invented an entire genre of music—had to wait 10 years? It’s disrespectful.

Paul Stanley really hit the nail on the head in his induction speech: fandom means nothing to these people. All that matters, it appears, is critical acclaim, something metal rarely gets.

The British godfathers of metal (Sabbath—in, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motorhead) and the Big 4 of American thrash (Metallica—in , Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax) deserve consideration. And I’ll say it again: Deep Purple on the outside looking in is a joke.

FOUR:

Speaking of Deep Purple, let’s pretend they get in next year. Who’s getting inducted? Will it only be the Mark II version of the band, the version behind “Smoke on the Water,” “Highway Star,” “Speed King,” Space Truckin’,” and “Woman From Tokyo”? (Seriously, how are the fuck are they NOT in already?) Because I think they’re up to at least Mark VIII or IX by now, right? That’s a lot of guys over 40+ years.

That seems to be the big controversy (and rightfully so). Who decides who’s getting in? Why did Parliament-Funkadelic get all 957 of its members inducted, but Kiss had to settle for the four original members, even though they had at least four other guys with decade-plus stints consisting of multiple gold albums and world tours? Both bands were garish theatrical groups on the Casablanca label in the ‘70s. Is it because Parliament got sampled on lots of g-funk rap albums in the ’90s? Who knows?

But there needs to be some consistency. Sammy Hagar gets inducted for his stint fronting Van Halen, but Ronnie James Dio can’t get the same for his time reinventing Black Sabbath? (I think this stinks of Sharon Osbourne, but that’s just a hunch.) Rob Trujillo (one album in a five-year stint at the time) gets to go in with Metallica, and 32-year-old Josh Klinghoffer, who had been in the band for about two-plus years and had played on exactly one album, gets to go in with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But a guy like Gilby Clarke, who made significant contributions to Guns N’ Roses, gets left out? (After reading the Frantz blog, it’s much more clear: where the Talking Heads had Seymour Stein, Metallica and the Chili Peppers had Cliff Burnstein (he manages both AND sits on the nominating committee).

Chad Channing played drums on Nirvana’s debut album, as well as several other b-sides and live cuts. He did the early gigs and tours. He participated in the early sessions for Nevermind and wrote several drum parts that Dave Grohl willingly admitted that he just copied in the final product (kudos to Grohl for saying this during his actual Hall induction speech, by the way). Oh, and he actually IS on Nevermind, albeit in a minor role (and especially now that the early demo sessions recorded by Butch Vig have been released on the album’s anniversary deluxe edition). He didn’t get in. Yet every drummer who ever played with the Red Hot Chili Peppers got in (obviously, I think the Red Hot Chili Peppers broke the Hall of Fame). I can’t wait to see how they handle the Pearl Jam drummer situation. Jesus…

FIVE:

Finally a few passing thoughts: Woefully missing are the alt-rock and new wave bands of the early ’80s. To name but a few … The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Joy Division/New Order, The Cars, Duran Duran, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Husker Du. As for rap, I don’t really care…and I’ll tell you why: Eventually that’s the stuff that gonna take over this thing. Eminem. Kanye. Jay-Z. It’s coming. They’re the biggest rock stars of the post-Napster era when the record companies started losing a little bit of their influence (I mean, we’ve got a LONG time before the White Stripes and bands like Arcade Fire become eligible). With that in mind, just give me NWA, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, 2Pac, and Biggie. Those were the rappers and crews that shaped my era. After they get in, I don’t care.

As far as my best guess for the bands of my generation…I personally don’t think a band like, say, Motley Crue has a prayer. Even with solid membership, lots of legitimate hits, a strong touring history, and the greatest story ever told, I think they’re immune even if believers in poptimism gain more influence in the nominating committee.

motley crue all glammed out

A lot of girls from Chris’ hometown looked a lot like Vince Neil does in this photo.

But you know what…says who? Motley Crue doesn’t have a shot because Rolling Stone doesn’t like them? A band shouldn’t base their legacy solely on a handful of critics with too much influence and power telling them how awesome they were. Isn’t that kind of what killed Kurt Cobain? Pretty sure he hated what that did to his band. I’m not advocating their enshrinement, but one thing everybody should respect about a band like Motley Crue—even if you think their music is either awesome or shit—is that they have no fucks to give when it comes to what anyone says about them on a critical level. It hasn’t stopped them from their decades of sold-out shows and platinum records.

(I’m well aware that someone somewhere will say the same thing about Nickelback in 20 years, but that becomes a question of eras…you know what: I’ll deal with that when it happens …)

But a band from that era that should get considered is Def Leppard, the rare band from the ‘80s glam metal period that garnered critical acclaim on top of massive commercial success.

Nick Drake holding guitar

Nick Drake, true artist. Way more acclaim after death.

As for the ’90s, come on. Pearl Jam is a mortal lock (I can’t believe they haven’t had their eligibility period waved). Radiohead is a lock. Beck is a lock. Green Day is a lock (eligible next year, actually, and I’ll be stunned if they have to wait). I have a hunch Rage Against the Machine is a lock. Eventually, Nine Inch Nails, Jane’s Addiction, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Smashing Pumpkins are all major contenders and all will be there over time. And I think Oasis has the most obvious shot of representing Britpop. And I keep reading about people saying bands like Blur and Pavement, for example, are shoo-ins, but I don’t know, I gotta see it first before I believe it.

And finally, my own personal snubs…well, now that Kiss is FINALLY in, I’m going with Deep Purple (too many anthems to ignore), Chicago (Jann Wenner reportedly is to them what Dave Marsh was to Kiss), Nick Drake (maybe the most perfect discography of all time) and the MC5 (seriously, the Stooges are in and they are NOT? Come on. “Kick Out The Jams” is bigger and certainly more iconic than ANYTHING the Stooges did. They are the first band associated with the sound that is considered punk rock) …

Sheesh, I feel like a battered wife after that. Why do you hate me, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, when I want to love you so much?