An Overdue Celebration of Music

Tonight I got a show on the air that I should have gotten on the air a month ago.

On Friday, April 7th, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the members of the Class of 2017 – Electric Light Orchestra, Joan Baez, Journey, Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, and Yes. It is my custom to do a special Roots of Rock broadcast that showcases the music of the new class either the week (night, actually) before or the week after the induction ceremony. This year, however, thanks to family emergencies, family vacations, personal illness, and a return week to advertise the special show, I only got to it this evening.

For Electric Light Orchestra, I chose “10538 Overture,” “Evil Woman,” “Livin’ Thing,” “Turn To Stone,” and “Don’t Bring Me Down.” I knew all of these songs well but the first, and it came advertised as the spiritual successor to “I Am The Walrus” by the Beatles. It did not disappoint.

For Joan Baez, I played “We Shall Overcome,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Forever Young,” “Diamonds And Rust,” and “Please Come To Boston.” I knew most of these, although the majority of the songs that I played were live versions that I wasn’t familiar with. Joan is almost as well known for her stirring renditions of other writers’ songs as she is for her own work, and that was reflected in the song list for this set.

For Journey, I selected “Lights,” “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” “Open Arms,” “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” and “Girl Can’t Help It.” Journey is not my favorite group – there’s something about their music that I find somewhat depressing – but I cannot deny that they deserve a place in the Hall. “Open Arms” is my least favorite Journey song, but I really like “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” so I wanted to be sure I got both of those in there.

For Pearl Jam, I opted for “Even Flow,” “Daughter,” “Better Man,” “Hail, Hail,” and “Last Kiss.” I knew all of these well but “Hail, Hail,” which was why I included it. I enjoyed it greatly.

For Tupac Shakur, I went with “I Get Around,” “Keep Ya Head Up,” “Dear Mama,” “California Love” (featuring Roger Troutman), andChanges” (featuring Talent). I have to admit, I was the most impressed with this set. I’d never heard Tupac before – my musical tastes were very narrow when he was alive and recording – and I never got around to hunting down his music. The thing that surprised me the most is that I bought his Greatest Hits album expecting a great deal of profanity – every song on the album is double labeled as Explicit – but with the exception of a single racial epithet on the final track and a “hell” tossed in there for good measure, the rest of the songs I played were completely clean, and the subject matter was incredibly complex, and all were very easy to listen to. My playlists are usually randomly generated, but I’ll be glad when the algorithm picks a Tupac song for me to play.

For Yes, I had to kind of punt, since the Hall of Fame website didn’t provide an “essential listening” section in their biography as they did with the other artists, but in the end I put “Roundabout,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Heart Of The Sunrise,” “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” and “Leave It” on the air. There were some recommended songs that I didn’t have in my collection, but two of them took up an entire album side – Yes is progressive rock, after all, and that sort of thing is not uncommon among prog rock artists – and I didn’t have enough time left in my show to put them on. “Roundabout” clocks in at eight and a half minutes, “I’ve Seen All Good People” comes in at six and a half, and “Heart Of The Sunrise” is over ten minutes long, so I’m glad that “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” and “Leave It” came from the MTV-friendly era of Yes’ career, otherwise my show would have been longer than my allotted three hours. As it was, everything came in right on time.

I love putting this show on the radio every year. Because of my format – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artists only – this is the only time that I can add new artists to my library. There are still some earlier inductees that I don’t have yet, but hopefully that will change over time. Once I fill in all the blanks, though, these induction ceremonies will be the only opportunity I will have to expand my library. I like sharing the new class with my listeners and am always thankful when a new inductee comes up in subsequent shows.

Incidentally, while the photo that leads off this post is not mine, I have a model of the Hall of Fame & Museum exactly like it. For those curious, the Hall of Fame itself is in the cylindrical section behind and to the left of the main building; the rest of the building is the Museum. Somewhere in that museum, enshrined in a leather-bound book and available for public viewing, is my name, as are the names of all other charter members of the Museum. That might go a long way toward explaining why I chose the musical format that I did for my radio show. I’ve been in there since day one.

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