I've lost a fair amount of respect for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame over the years when they started inducting a few acts which made me go, "um, but I'm not really sure they're rock and roll." That came to a climax when ABBA was inducted last year.
Like the band or not (I am in the Not camp), but there is no way you can argue they are rock and roll. Pop or dance, sure. Rock and roll? No. Not so much.
I probably wouldn't have paid much attention to this year's nominees either except on a lark I click on one of those online polls about who I thought were the most deserving of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. They are: Alice Cooper, Beastie Boys, Bon Jovi, Chic, Neil Diamond, Donovan, Dr. John, J. Geils Band, LL Cool J, Darlene Love, Laura Nyro, Donna Summer, Joe Tex, Tom Waits and Chuck Willis.
Now, I consider Alice Cooper a given, so when I clicked on the poll I went with my personal favourite choice, Tom Waits, who I consider to be one of the 10 most important musicians of my life. So yeah, he's a given.
He finished fourth in the poll. Alice Cooper has 40% of the vote, Bon Jovi had 20%, Neil Diamond had 12% and then poor Tom had 8%.
Once again I find the world needs a collective head so I can smack it. I'm a little disturbed about Neil Diamond, but really, his last two albums have been good and 12 Songs, I would argue, was one of the best records of the last decade. I would be worried about LL Cool J, but he got something like 1% on that poll and if the Hall puts him in, you might as well shut the place up now.
But man, I hate Bon Jovi. I realize they're probably going to get in there at some point, but if they got in there before Tom Waits, that would be aggravating.
There's no rational reason to hate Bon Jovi. They're a perfectly mediocre rock band that's produced some catchy tunes. The fact that their lead singer is pretty, I suspect, managed to keep them going when other bands of similar talents are playing country fairs (see Poison and Whitesnake).
But I think you get locked in with certain bands at a young age and it's hard to change your mind about them. I hated Bon Jovi with the passion that a 15 year old can have watching his female classmates swoon over them can generate. And 25 years later, that hatred is diminished, but it's nice to see that given the right occasion I can still tap into it.
Waits, meanwhile, is one of the most important songwriters of the past 40 years, not far off Leonard Cohen. And while his voice might not be to everyone's liking (Cathy loves his songs, hates his voice), there's no denying his importance in music. I had the same awakening I suspect many people did when they hit university and someone said, "Hey, you should listen to this" and put on Closing Time.
So yeah, give me Waits over Bon Jovi any day.
Although, and here's another debate, how the hell did Bon Jovi get nominated before Rush?
1. Only ones who know - Arctic Monkeys
2. Silent sea - KT Tunstall
3. Hang down your head (live) - Tom Waits*
4. East of the sun (live) - Diana Krall
5. Babooshka - Kate Bush