pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: Of course I was there

19 April 2013

Of course I was there

2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Los Angeles, California
18 April 2013

Alright, all y'all, this is the version I wanted to write this morning but was too distracted to do so.

True, there is no "of course" the way I operate. And if I have to tell you why I was there...

Where to begin?

When Jann Wenner arrived at the podium and about 4,000 people booed?

(I'm telling you this because when HBO broadcasts the show next month, that will have been edited out. But it was very, very funny. Ill-mannered, but...ahem...)

Do I just cut to the chase and tell you that Rush brought the house down?

(Truth? The Rush fans brought the house down. Unfortunately, some of the fans sitting way behind me got rude and unruly during others' performances and speeches as the night wore on, which annoyed and dismayed me. Wenner's fair game, maybe, but you don't disturb someone else's moment.)

I wasn't sure what to expect from the whole thing, honestly, because I've never been to one and never watched the broadcast. I'm not big into the whole awards thing (though I do watch the Oscars every year, a habit ingrained in me by my first boss at Big Entertainment Company. "This is your industry," he told me, "and that is your industry's moment.")

But this was special, and I decided to go because it was local and because it seemed necessary to represent.

These last weeks I've been crazy busy, and this week has had extra stress laid on with the horrible events that have occurred. In the days leading up to last night (LA on a school night; I've written about that before), it transpired that the daughter was being dragged off on a field trip to Paramount in Hollywood. So the mad dash started early yesterday, because I'd arranged to pick her up in Hollywood rather than at her school. Once that was accomplished, 15 minutes late, the dash to downtown began.

(Don Henley later kind of said it all when he was talking about the traffic he'd encountered on Olympic trying to get to the venue. We'd bypassed Olympic in favor of the 101 because Google Maps said that Olympic was taking twice as long. Thank you, Google.)

So once we found parking, we stumbled into Nokia with about 10 minutes to spare. Or it would have been 10 minutes had the show started anything like on time. So it was more like 40 minutes. And the Voice of God kept coming over the PA asking everyone to be seated so they could start the show, and then they didn't start the show, so everyone got up and started running around again.

In between the times, I make the trek from Behind the Orange Curtain into the wilds of LA, I tend to forget how freaky LA audiences are. Aaaaiiiiiiiiiiieeeeee.

(In the 30 years that I've lived in So Cal, I've now evenly divided my time between LA and Orange counties. You have no idea how sad that makes me. Someday, I will get out of here. Break into a chorus of "Hotel California.")


I'd forgotten who most of the inductees were except Rush and Heart. I've been a casual fan of Heart since forever, and I have most if not all of their albums. When I think of Heart, I think of reading about them when they released their first album. It's a very vivid memory. I was in the Home Ec room, probably in fifth or sixth grade, and I snuck out my copy of Teen. I was supposed to be sewing something, or making a macrame plant holder. But I was reading about Ann and Nancy Wilson. They were so pretty. They were so loud. And I got into so much trouble with Sister AM for reading instead of doing my macrame.

But it was good.

Eventually, the show started. Wenner announced the inductees. Finally, at the very end, he said, "And from Toronto..."

And the fans tore the roof off the sucker.

Auspicious start.

But I'm not going to give you a blow by blow here. HBO will provide that, much edited, next month. But I will tell you that I sat there and I watched and I listened. And I remembered. And I quietly explained to the daughter who certain people were as she sat there mildly mystified by Lou Adler (and Cheech and Chong!). Through the next 4+ hours, a musical history developed, a tapestry of musicians and song writers and performers and producers, threads of which wove through my childhood, my young adulthood and today. Don Henley, who I first saw at the very first concert I ever attended--The Eagles--stood up there looking amusingly respectable as he inducted Randy Newman. Tom Petty, John Fogerty, and Jackson Browne joined Newman on stage. Oprah was there to induct Quincy Jones, who I explained to the daughter touched things and made them amazing. The late Donna Summer, whose gorgeous rich voice was part of the soundtrack of my teen years and the dances that I went to (and who provided mild scandal in my preteen years with that song. Ah the rumors flew. It would be years before I had any idea what exactly my friends were talking about...). I learned about blues guitarist Albert King, and the induction of Lou Adler brought back a flood of images from my childhood: Carole King's Tapestry, filled with songs we heard over and over. Actually seeing her perform last night was one of those goose-bump inducing moments.

Public Enemy became popular during a time when I didn't have a TV (I didn't for years) and my radio-listening was confined to NPR and all my music came from the used record bins at Moby Disc, so they were never even on my radar. But I was pleased to hear a thoughtful and smart man called Chuck D use almost the same words I'd used trying to explain the diversity of modern music to my own kids: it all comes from the blues.

And then Heart. And then Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins from Foo Fighters, who I've also listened to for ages, inducting Rush. And really, with kimonos, and 2112, and the song that started it all for me, "Tom Sawyer," it was a moment. Epic. Funny and serious all at once.  I remember the first time I saw Rush live and the show started with "Tom Sawyer," and that first note just stopped my heart and made me catch my breath. Last night we just didn't stop singing and my daughter sang with me, and it was perfect, another thread.

Rush was the reason I went, but I walked out after the final jam, "Crossroads," with a rather full heart, and a deep gratitude for all those who have made the music and made possible the music that I have loved for decades and through the years. Last night's ceremony was to honor those people, but it also spoke to the deep bond between them and their audience.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4. 

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