Monday, March 19, 2007

Old folks still rock

On Saturday I sat up late watching Patti Smith, Van Halen, Grand Master Flash, and REM get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Ronettes also got inducted this year, but I missed that part - tho I am sure I could find it playing on demand on cable (evidently, the edited version I watched, with the remarks at the podium artfully intercut with the live performances & archival clips, is in rotation on VH-1). Like all awards shows, it has its hokey moments, and its cool ones.

When I turned it on, Patti Smith was playing Rock & Roll Nigger, and I probably enjoyed that almost the most - there were parts of the song where there were more bleeps than words, because they were bleeping out both the N-word and the F-word.

Bill Berry, REM's human drummer, was there, although neither he nor Peter Buck said anything; they let Michael Stipe & Mike Mills do all the talking. Peter Buck had a glass of red wine in his hand. It was great to hear REM with their original, real drummer, even on TV. I had watched a movie with John Malkovich in it earlier, and I was having trouble not seeing Michael Stipe as Malkovich.

I was amazed at how well I knew the Van Halen songs; I thought I didn't like them all that much, but as Eddie Vedder pointed out, REM's Murmur was the soundtrack of the summer of 1983 - I had Murmur & the Church's Blurred Crusade on a cassette tape that I played just about constantly - Eddie had even calculated how many times he must have played Murmur, and it was in the thousands, because it was regular, pre-CD, LP length - 45 mins. or so - that could fit on one side of a 90-minute cassette. And as Micheal Stipe pointed out, Van Halen's Jump was the soundtrack of 1984.

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