Heater, Mother of Lance

Where do we go now

I mentioned earlier this week that while I was in Ohio I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. It was pretty much exactly what I expected in terms of the collection of memorabilia from various musicians, a little underwhelming at times. I don’t know, I guess for an admission price of $22 I kind of expected maybe an animatronic Elvis giving complimentary blow jobs.



I couldn’t quiet the former graphic designer in me as I walked through the various exhibits, and during one of the video presentations I could not believe that the person in charge approved the font choices. The fonts, for crying out loud! There I was watching historic footage of Bessie Smith and Stevie Wonder and all I could think was HAVE YOU NEVER HEARD OF HELVETICA?

There’s a film that features footage of every artist who has been inducted since the foundation was formed over 25 years ago, and if anyone there is listening: dancing curly fonts ARE NOT ROCK AND ROLL.

The majority of past inductees make total sense. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Al Green, Sly and the Family Stone, and so forth. I wondered about the nomination process and why certain artists get chosen over others. The website explains:

Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.

Okay. So. Um. Yeah. NO.

Here is where I hit the caps lock key you have been warned:


Where are Violent Femmes? Sonic Youth? The Cure? Joy Division? YOU CHOSE GUNS N’ ROSES AND NOT THE PIXIES?

I hate pointing this out, but next year Nirvana will be eligible for a nomination. Yeah. That was 25 years ago. We’re closing in on the artists whose music was the soundtrack to my high school and college years. And the possibilities… Soundgarden. Pearl Jam. PJ Harvey. Liz Phair. Radiohead. Blur. Seriously, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, if I even get a whiff that you’re considering Whitesnake I’m going to write a Yelp review. And FILL it with angry typos. FILL IT ALL THE WAY TO HERE.





So the discussion I wanted to have (in addition to your opinion as to who should be nominated in the next few years) is… things are changing so quickly and dramatically in the music business that it doesn’t feel unrealistic that pretty soon we won’t have artists that are in any way as influential as the ones who preceded them. Or am I way off base? Up until about a year ago I’d buy a whole album from a band, something I don’t think my kids will ever do, and I thought I’d continue to do that going forward. But even my habits have changed, and now I’ll find the two or three songs I like and purchase those. Will this shift have a lasting and measurable way we view bands and musicians? Or will we always have a sort of reverence and loyalty for the people who produce the music we love?

  • Mo

    2013/04/11 at 3:37 pm

    G ‘N R rocks.

  • Jen

    2013/04/11 at 3:39 pm

    Due to itunes thinking it owns all my music, I’ve gone back to buying c.d.s.

  • Ade

    2013/04/11 at 3:42 pm

    Well…let me just start this by saying I’m your average joe who listens to music while working out ect., but that’s about as far as I take. So don’t yell at me when I say, I’ve heard of Guns N’ Roses, but I have no idea who Violent Femmes, Sonic Youth, Joy Division, and The Pixies are. Soooo maybe that’s why they are not inducted. Not mainstream enough? (shrugging shoulders)

  • grad.nauseam

    2013/04/11 at 3:45 pm

    I think it’s a shame if that’s the case. Granted I’m not buying Katy Perry’s album just to put one song on my treadmill playlist, but there are certain artists whom I will always give the benefit of the doubt – buy the album and learn to appreciate the songs that didn’t immediately hit me on the first listen. Sometimes it takes years.

  • SmithShack71

    2013/04/11 at 3:46 pm

    Sound Garden was influenced by the greats out there, but Sound Garden influences the new comers. That’s some music I would buy the whole album for. I think there will always be a few that will stand out and carry on.
    ps I love Chris Cornell.


  • Suebob

    2013/04/11 at 3:52 pm

    Warning: I AM OLD. You young whippersnappers will never know the awesomeness of poring over every little element of an album cover – yes, a full-size album cover – as you lay on the floor next to the one turntable in the house, listening to a whole album over and over, even the one song that the drummer did vocals on that totally sucks, praying your parents won’t get home for a long time and make you TURN OFF THAT RACKET!

  • Josette Plank

    2013/04/11 at 3:52 pm

    You know, I was just thinking about some of the first albums I bought – Pink Floyd DSOTM, Styx Grand Illusion, Tommy – and if I were to have just bought the hits, the songs with the hooks that grab you in your simpler happy place and just sort of immediately appeal to that place in your head that doesn’t think much beyond lunch, I’d never have gotten farther than Money, Come Sail Away, and Pinball Wizard.

    I’d have never experienced the more complicated full-palate offerings of something like the Overture, or listened through Acid Queen, or tried to figure out just what was going on in Fiddle About. I think about all those B sides and in-between songs that more slowly became my favorites, forced to listen through because who wants to pick up a record player needle and try to find the next song? And with those honking big stereophonic headphones, saturating my head in the layers of a Yes song or The Wall or Led Zeppelin…it was a super-reality and a journey from beginning to end. More or less.

    Now iPod playlists are so… narcissistic, in way. We create our own soundtrack for our own life for every moment from working out to going grocery shopping, and make the music fit our experience.

    When listening to an album of another artist’s complete hour-long journey while we are on ours…the good and the weird, the accessible and the complex…it’s really where art/music takes us to someplace other than ourselves. I do think Kids These Days will miss out on something when the “album of work” goes the way of the super-sized Rolling Stone magazine.

    And yes, I “burned a lot of joss sticks” back in the day.

  • JenVegas

    2013/04/11 at 3:57 pm

    The person in the comments below who has never heard of the pixies just totally ruined my day. That is all.

  • Jason Avant

    2013/04/11 at 3:57 pm

    The Replacements will never be in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Therefore it’s falsely named.

  • Jessie Jean

    2013/04/11 at 3:58 pm

    I think it also goes by popularity and staying power…Like how many people still know who they are 25 years later. I wasn’t old enough (2 years old) to listen to G N R’s first album, but I know who they are still, whereas I have no clue who the Smiths are. I grew up listening to “good” music too, like the Beatles, George Thorogood and Roy Orbison.

  • Doug

    2013/04/11 at 4:22 pm

    The Hall lost all credibility when it inducted Madonna, who is certainly talented, but definitely NOT rock and roll. Also, 2013 before RUSH gets in?! Heresy.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/04/11 at 4:37 pm

    “When listening to an album of another artist’s complete hour-long journey while we are on ours…the good and the weird, the accessible and the complex…it’s really where art/music takes us to someplace other than ourselves. ”

    I love this.

    Radiohead’s Kid A is the perfect example of this for me. So many of my friends were like, my god, there’s so much noise on that album, and for me the noise totally makes sense when you listen to the album as a whole. It was meant to be a complete experience, ebbing in and out at the perfect moments.

  • Lindsey Gibbs

    2013/04/11 at 5:02 pm

    I was just saying something similar to my husband – that music seems to change so much and so quickly now that no one seems to have a “lasting” effect, like how The Beatles just won (almost) everyone’s hearts and influenced music for years to come.

  • MarilynInTheUK

    2013/04/11 at 5:38 pm

    I live in the UK and my American friend lives in Cleveland Ohio, so I’ve been. Fortunately for me, all I could see was Elvis, Elvis, Elvis….. me, and Elvis fan? Why so?

  • MarilynInTheUK

    2013/04/11 at 5:38 pm

    ‘an’, not ‘and’, sorry!

  • Mj Crites

    2013/04/11 at 5:40 pm

    Husker Dü’s Zen Arcade is another album that’s really a full length gig. Sure, I listen to single songs off of it from time to time, but I doubt I would listen to them if I hadn’t listened to the whole thing all the way through.

    The way I see it, things are changing from a top down centralized system to a bottom up diversified one. How else could a self produced act like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis get to the top of chart on iTunes? I welcome this.

    We’re moving away from the era of the mega-act and I welcome this as well. Now I can hear all sorts of artists from all over the world and choose to support them (or not) and they’re probably getting a better deal today than they did in the past. With artists marketing their stuff globally and for free via sites like iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube it’s easier for the Cindy Woolf’s of the world to get their music out. It also means it’s harder for the Warner’s and Sony’s of the world to tell me who the big five must listen to bands of the year are.

  • JenJF

    2013/04/11 at 5:45 pm

    Does it make you feel any better to know the Clash, Red Hot Chili Peppers and REM are in there? (Alongside Abba, yes, but there nonetheless.)

    The other day, looking at the Entertainment Weekly “Billboard Chart Flashback” to the top 10 in March 1994 (my freshman year in college), I realized I did not like, or listen to, any of those musicians…Instead, I was listening to the Pixies, NIN, Violent Femmes, the Cure, the Lemonheads–music that, while termed “alternative,” was to me as authentically rock and roll as you could find on the radio. So let’s hope that within the next few years we see some of these groups inducted.

    As to the way we listen to music now–I still buy albums, but I have to hope that with the pick-and-choose method of listening, what we might miss out in continuity and artistic vision we make up in diversity.

  • Necole Kell

    2013/04/11 at 5:46 pm

    I feel very old after reading it will be 25 years for Nirvana. Your mention of the “Where are they” bands pretty much molded me and are why I love music as much as I do. I saw the Pixies in concert with Nine Inch Nails. My husband and I were just watch the 2012 induction last night, and we were talking about this very topic. In my opinion, music now is not what it was then. I have a deep love for Pearl Jam and would love to see them inducted. I am just happy that the Ramones were inducted before Guns N Roses.

  • Lisa

    2013/04/11 at 6:18 pm

    I’m impressed you were able to sneak some pictures from inside. Their no picture policy anywhere inside really irks me. Been there twice, and both times left wondering why it cost so much.

  • Jil

    2013/04/11 at 6:25 pm

    PIXIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEESSSSS they are my favorite band EVER and I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that I got a 13 tattooed on my boob as an homage to the 14 year old me who thought it would be a cool idea.

  • Jil

    2013/04/11 at 6:26 pm

    Nirvana totally ripped off Pixies and I hate the OMG fangirling Kurt gets. Black Francis forever.

  • ckaftonomos

    2013/04/11 at 6:49 pm

    I can think of a handful (as in less than 5) of current artists whose entire album I’ve purchased. Ok, make that two. Funny, both became well-known because of two things: YouTube and – wait for it – actual talent. Those two would be Karmin and Watsky, in case you were wondering.

  • ckaftonomos

    2013/04/11 at 6:51 pm

    I should probably also add that you are entirely correct on all points you made.

  • Tina Beveridge

    2013/04/11 at 7:18 pm

    We will have reverence and loyalty, but gone are the days of “filler” songs to meet the producer/record company’s quota of 10 or 12 songs per album. In other words, only the good stuff will be bought.

  • k.

    2013/04/11 at 8:24 pm

    the first woman was inducted in 1987. 19fucking87. aretha franklin. sexism: alive and well!

  • MM3

    2013/04/11 at 8:25 pm

    I’ve given up on humanity after my 2nd grader’s teacher had them talk about Beyonce during Black History Month. BEYONCE? Are you shitting me? Yeah, she changed the course of history. Given.up.on.humanity.

  • futurerocklegends

    2013/04/11 at 9:30 pm

    They actually just recently lifted the photography ban. Everyone hated the old policy.

  • futurerocklegends

    2013/04/11 at 10:22 pm

    Actually, it’s likely that most of the artists you mention above will *eventually* get inducted. Yes, it often takes decades for seemingly obvious candidates to get in, but the Rock Hall isn’t going anywhere, and like you mention, because of the changes to the music business, they will eventually run out of no-brainer type inductees like Nirvana and move to the next tier of artists.

    There will also be a generational turnover on the Rock Hall’s Nominating Committee (the 30 or so people who come up with the ballot every year). The committee is still dominated by baby boomers who had their music defining experiences during the 60s, so they are not adequately equipped to dig beyond the surface of the 80s/90s music scene. Eventually, those committee members will move on and younger blood will replace them.

  • lizmk

    2013/04/11 at 11:04 pm

    I was vastly underwhelmed by the rock hall. I walked away feeling a bit used, and realized that the bands who molded me will likely never get that bit of public recognition.

    I shudder to think that one day the Bieber will likely be an inductee, all thanks to the of the singles instead of albums, iTunes driven, digital revolution that is butt-fucking the music industry. But, I think there are still artists out there making good music and putting out actual albums (even on vinyl!) that will last and inspire. I don’t ever want to give up on the magic of hearing a new artist and then getting their full album (even if digital) to hear the rest of what they made. That first listen of an album, from start to finish, just cannot be replaced by sampling a few songs on the internet. I can’t possibly be the last person still thinking this way.

  • theboldsoul

    2013/04/12 at 12:54 am

    God, you hit the nail on the head, Suebob. I am so with you. My reaction to this post was: I am SO old because I have not even heard of most of the groups Heather listed, or even if I have heard the name (i.e. Radiohead) I’ve never really heard the music. Which means I am one of those people who is officially trapped in a music time warp and there is no hope for me.

    Save yourselves.

  • Lynn Bossange

    2013/04/12 at 5:17 am

    Reads through entire post and the comments / goes to browse another site / finds herself hum-screaming “where do we go nooooow.”

    Doh. Just realized post title.

  • Laura

    2013/04/12 at 6:18 am

    Honestly, I feel that music in general has taken an entire shift downward. People will no longer buy an entire album because all the music being generated as “pop” is complete crap. I would probably buy the entire album of Mumford & Sons, but just this morning I discovered “Thrift Shop” and had to ask the younger generation that I work with if that is comparable to all the other music being made right now. It’s a sad sad situation.

  • Josette Plank

    2013/04/12 at 6:44 am

    I agree. I think there is a lot positive in direct promotion and finding songs through Internet radio. I love just looking at the sidebar suggestions on YouTube videos, and I adore streaming radio from around the world. There is much that is good. (Especially the new dub reggae stations I keep finding.)

    On the other hand, sometimes I do have an eyeroll moment when I click in to some small station in Finland and it sounds like Top 40 radio from Harrisburg, PA. But that’s just me being snobby.

    I know albums of work might seem like dinosaurs at times, but I’m also trying to be conscious of striking a happy medium, you know? Putting on a CD like back in the day and listening through, stem to stern.

  • Kimberly

    2013/04/12 at 7:06 am

    I think the pickings will definitely become slim. Perhaps not influential, but maybe ones that have actual talent and commercial success, ie: Adele. Those that are seemingly obscure to the general public are obvious choices for the more culturally and musically fulfilled, ie: me and you. But since we do not run this show, because if we did it would not be in Cleveland, we will have to stew in our self righteous indignation and take joy in the simple things, like, at least they got it right with Leonard Cohen and Bob Seger.

  • Beth Rich George

    2013/04/12 at 7:18 am

    Right ON! It would be a sad day in the world if the only Queen song ever heard was Bohemian Rhapsody. And were it not for our single record player in the house, I would have never learned of the magic of Brain Salad Surgery or Houses of the Holy from my older brother.

  • Jayceeday

    2013/04/12 at 7:55 am

    I agree and think it’s a shame about whole albums. In my opinion, so many great songs could fall through the cracks….different songs for different people, if you know what I mean.
    You know how you get an album/cd, and you just adore #2, #3, #5 and you listen to those the most, they resonate, but the rest are just ‘meh’ for you. But then you play it in a year or so and all of a sudden #1 and #6 are just amazing and” OMG how did I not see that before!”
    Part of me wants to stay old fashioned; I try not to buy single tracks.

  • paula

    2013/04/12 at 8:11 am

    I have absolute mixed feelings about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their choices. I think the decision process has become watered down and a bunch of BS. I absolutely agree with the Pixies and the thought of Nirvana being inducted before them or Pearl Jam makes my skin crawl. Jill’s right, Nirvana totally ripped the Pixies off and let’s not forget Green River too who was WAY before Nirvana and basically 50% Pearl Jam. Cobain was absolutely overrated… David Grohl however, amazing. HE should be inducted with the Foo Fighters when it’s time.

    As far as Kids These Days and how they experience music. This is going to make me old and I don’t care: it’s not like it used to be. In my day, the crackle of the first 45 I bought (Van Halen’s Diver Down) and the richness of sound has been lost. Had I been able to pick and choose the “hits” the record company felt I should love, I wouldn’t know some seriously great music and like you said I’d miss the actual body of work that is the entire album.

    I’m curious to see how cherry picking hits will develop future live music and the fans. Will they be as loyal as those following the Dead around to every show if they only know a hit or three off an album? Will concerts evolve into greatest hits shows instead of playing an entire album? Will bands get tired of just cranking out their hits and decide not to tour and promote new albums? I would.

    PS – where’s Journey? Joan Jett? Thin Lizzy? Motorhead? Thank god Rush and Heart made it in.

  • paula

    2013/04/12 at 8:13 am

    aaaahhh Houses of the Holy. So good.

  • paula

    2013/04/12 at 8:14 am

    Tell me you caught the Songbook acoustic tour. Him and a guitar. Phenomenal.

  • paula

    2013/04/12 at 8:16 am

    nope, with you lizmk. Still believe in buying albums and I love vinyl. If Beiber gets inducted, I may become a pyromaniac.

  • Megan

    2013/04/12 at 8:49 am

    Thanks, yo. I was hoping that someone would fight the waves of GNR hate. I agree that some significant artist have been/are being overlooked, but Axl wasn’t chopped liver. Those guys did some pretty neat shit, too, even if it’s not everyone’s personal taste.

  • Evan Adamson

    2013/04/12 at 9:27 am

    Agree with everything you said about the Hall, and the article gave me entertaining chuckles – well done. Must disagree with choosing Guns and Roses as the poster child for their bad decisions though. There are far more unworthy, and I believe Guns deserve recognition (even if it is from the Hall). In my opinion they shaped the course of Rock as much as some of the bands you positively acknowledge. I also believe they have one of the best debut Rock albums of all time.
    PS – Huge Pixies fan too

  • Norm Nelson

    2013/04/12 at 10:34 am

    I think everybody who takes rock and roll seriously does not take the R&RHoF seriously. For all the reasons you mentioned and more. It’s not worth getting bent out of shape about a bunch of corporate mofos and what they think is good. Everyone should have their own personal rock and roll hall of fame – I MEAN favorite mixtape, and the HoF is something fun to do in Cleveland.

  • Janie T

    2013/04/12 at 12:23 pm

    This!! ^^^^ I’m sure I could not have been this eloquent, but this is exactly how I feel. My 17 yo daughter listens to and enjoys Beatles, Queen, and Stones, but then dances to Just Dance (Kesha, Gaga, etc) and sings along with Glee. It’s hard to believe she will ever really get the full experience from DSOTM or The Wall that I did. Now I’m depressed, Heather. Thanks.

  • Casey

    2013/04/12 at 1:52 pm

    Yup, I love Joy Division and the Pixies and Sonic Youth… but uh, GnR is most definitely rock and roll.

  • Angie

    2013/04/12 at 2:34 pm

    I think the Rock Hall inductees and that whole process is pretty ridiculous, but I was pleasantly surprised by the museum. The amount of stuff there is astounding, and I saw so many people just rushing through, barely looking at some of the it. The coppery guitar that Robbie Robertson played in The Last Waltz! Handwritten Joy Division lyrics! Part of the plane that crashed with Otis Redding inside! David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes costume! We spent hours there and i’m sure we still missed some great things. Hopefully we’ll take our sons there someday.

  • AHK

    2013/04/12 at 3:56 pm

    I had heard Macklmore’s ‘Same Love’ months ago and really liked it but didn’t follow up on who they were and recently heard ‘Thrift Shop’ and was astounded (in a good way) that it was the same album. I’ve had a hard time finding albums lately that really hold my interest and their’s is one that’s stood out to me. What did your younger co-workers say to your question?

  • granolahlah

    2013/04/12 at 4:23 pm

    I think we’ll always have artists who emerge and become influential on other artists (ie; Radiohead, the Strokes, Justice, etc ). Will they be as big as some of the artists of the yesteryear? Very few, in my opinion. The music business model is completely different now. It used to be that behind every great musician, was a team of people elevating their music to the next level. Producers, A&R, writers. Those people are pretty much gone now. Raw talent isn’t being developed properly or living up to the full potential. The outcome is that we’re getting a lot of just OK music. There’s still a plenty of amazing music out there too, but it’s fewer and far between.

    As far as not buying whole albums anymore… I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. It used to be that you had to spend $20 for an album that only had 4 good songs. Now you can pick and choose. Ultimately I think if you really like an artist, you’ll buy the whole album. At the very least you will stream the whole album, which I believe is the future of music. On demand music streaming (spotify) as opposed to owning a specific music file (itunes).

  • Dieter Weinerman

    2013/04/12 at 7:03 pm

    Grew up in Cleveland, was proud when they got to host the hall of fame museum. Not so much anymore. Their induction choices/nominees have and will continue to blow. Example, Rush. First Album “Rush” in 1974, finally being inducted this year 39 years later only because if their fans.

    Oh and Kiss…though not a big fan of the group, how can you not say their influence and significance didn’t perpetuate rock and roll? Also been 39 years and still not in the hall.

    I finally visited the place two years ago and was very underwhelmed. If they asked $5 it would be too much.

    Whole place is a piece of shit.

  • Amelia K

    2013/04/13 at 12:37 am

    I have one word for you; Macklemore.
    He will save us all.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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