I grew up in Cleveland, and so of course went back at some point—25 years ago probably—to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
More like the Rock and Roll Mausoleum, if you ask me, a collection of cases of fringed jackets and sequined platform shoes leading to, if I recall, some kind of cheesy glass and starlight holy of holies at the summit. It was the least rock and roll place I've ever been to. A judgment confirmed anew each year when they usher in another off-key group of entrants, like this year. Dolly Parton is a lovely lady, with wonderful charitable impulses. But to admit her to an establishment supposedly dedicated to rock music before Ian Anderson, of Jethro Tull, should result in the building being torn down and the ground sown with salt.
Or worse, before Warren Zevon. One of the great wordsmiths of rock and roll. I couldn't focus on lawyer songs without his essential, "Lawyers, Guns and Money." It should have been the first, but that was too obvious.
"I went home with the waitress/the way I always do," has to be one of the better opening lyrics in popular song. "How was I to know/she was with the Russians too?"
Plus I don't like it, and include "Lawyers, Guns and Money" even though it isn't nearly my favorite Warren Zevon song (that would have to be "Studebaker") nor even in the Top Ten. Or 20.
I think it has something to do with the entitled, reprobate narrator. "Send lawyers, guns and money. Dad, get me out of this." You could see Donald Jr. singing it. I don't like "Excitable Boy" for the same reason. How can you like any song with the lyric, "Then he raped her and killed her and took her home"? It's just grotesque.
I'd much, much rather listen to his last album, "The Wind," an act of bravura creativity written and recorded while he was dying of cancer. Or the marvelous tribute album, "Enjoy Every Sandwich," the title taken from Zevon's deathless answer when David Letterman asked him what he learned from dying. You know a musician is special when his songs are covered by both Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, as they are on this album. The Wallflowers' version of "Lawyers, Guns and Money" is quite good too.
Returning to the Hall of Fame, Jackson Browne was admitted in 2004, and his "Lawyers in Love" is even worse. It was a big hit almost 40 years ago and I cringed at the thought of hearing it again, with its sha-la-las and chiming piano and warbling, near-yodeling "Ah-aaaas." Browne deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as much as I do. Then again, the whole thing is a joke, so why not? There is no justice in this world.