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Media Literacy Review
Center for Advanced Technology in Education - College of Education - University of Oregon - Eugene

Phone Call on Rock Hall of Fame

Bill Walsh, Contributing Writer

"Hello? Office of Cultural Affairs, Enforcement Division, Good Taste desk? I'd like to report a crime."

"The victim? Well, I guess good taste is the victim. Truth. Justice. The American Way - all of that stuff."

"The perpetrator? The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Yeah - they're the Grammy people, but this isn't about the Grammies. You must get a lot of calls about those. This is about something much more lasting.

"You see, they've got this Hall of Fame that they started back in 1973. Yeah. A Hall of Fame. So I suppose this has been going on for 27 years. You've got to stop it! It's gone too far, and it's way out of control!

"Yeah, a Hall of Fame, just like in baseball. The president of the organization says - and get this - that they honor recordings `of enduring quality and relevance or historical significance.' Can you believe it? Enduring quality? Historical significance?

"Yes, I'm sorry. I didn't realize I was yelling. I'll try to calm down.

"Well, it's just that I saw a list of this year's inductees. I mean, they've got "The Girl from Ipanema" on the list! For the Hall of Fame! It's criminal, I tell ya!

"No, no, not all of the 49 new inductees are as lame as that. They've got "Desperado" by the Eagles, and "For What It's Worth" by the Buffalo Springfield, and Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally." Most of the selections are fine.

"But they've also got "Don't Make Me Over" by Dionne Warwick, and "Hello Walls" by Faron Young and . . . and . . . (I can barely force myself to say it) . . . "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell!

"Yeah, I know! What a terrible song! EVERYBODY thinks that song stinks! "Enduring quality and historical significance?' C'mon! It's criminal, I tell ya! What are they thinking?

"All together? Well, counting the 49 songs they've just inducted this year, there are now 498 recordings in the Hall of Fame. Yes, I've got a list.

"Rules? Well, they'll only induct songs that have been around 25 years or more, you know. And Lord knows, they've TRIED to be fair about it. I mean, there are classical selections and (shudder) country music and old stuff. Like what?"

"Ummmm. Hold on a minute. OK. "Stormy Weather" by Lena Horne, Andres Segovia - he's a guitar player, isn't he? And Broadway shows "Annie Get Your Gun" and even Gene Autry's "Back in the Saddle Again."

"No, I don't so much mind those. Some of the older ones are kinda cute, even - historical relevance and all of that. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by the Andrews Sisters, "Chattanooga Choo Choo" by the Glen Miller Orchestra and "God Bless America" by Kate Smith. They're cool. They belong in the Hall of Fame.

"But something funny's been happening with the list - only it's not funny - it's strange. "Dang Me" by Roger Miller? The Mothers of Invention? "I Want You Back" by the Jackson Five? I tell ya, someone over there has just lost it!

"I mean, right next to "The Weight" by the Band is . . . Huh? "The Weight," by the Band, I said! You never heard of it? Hey! Are you one of them? It's one of the best songs ever recorded!!!!!

"OK, OK. I'll take another pill. The first one hasn't kicked-in yet.

"Right next to "Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan - you've heard of THAT, I hope? Good. Right next to that is "Is That All There Is" by Peggy Lee. PEGGY LEE? Sheesh. They've got "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen, but also "Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry. Can you believe it? "Ode to Billie Joe???" What'd you say? Lemme check. No. Thankfully "Harper Valley PTA" isn't there.

"They've got "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum, but also "Country Roads" by John Denver! Yes, I know he's dead, but so are the Archies, and THEY'RE not on the list!

"It's criminal, I tell ya. Lasting importance? Historical significance? HAH! You've got to do something!

"What do ya mean, it's not a crime?

"Well then, maybe somebody stole their brains or taste or something! Isn't THAT a crime?


"Well, sheesh!

"My name? Uhhhhh . . . Bill Walsh. Yeah, I know. You guys over there at Good Taste are used to getting complaints ABOUT me rather than FROM me, but isn't there anything you can do about this?

"OK, but don't say I didn't warn ya. They'll probably put Barry Manilow on the list next!

"And THEN you'll be sorry!"