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Rock, Stock, and Two Smoking Pistols

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 13, 2006 8:23PM

As Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Sex Pistols and others are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame2006_03_rnrhof.jpg tonight, we’re wondering how important such an institution is in a time when a “Top 100 Fill-In-The-Blank Bands Of All Time” list pops up every time we turn on the television. After all, the best AP writer David Bauder can do is to masquerade this mash note to Debbie Harry as a news story about the ceremony.

If it didn't matter to us, we probably wouldn't be as irritated over Bauder’s speculation that the Pistols are skipping the ceremony because they’re upset that their “peers” (the Clash, Talking Heads and Elvis Costello) were inducted before they were.

This statement is both amusing and ludicrous. Internet postings aside, there’s one simple reason the Pistols are foregoing this event: there’s no money in it. We’ll be the first to say the Sex Pistols deserve a place in the Hall for their influence on rock music and rock mythos, but they were neither the first nor the best of their genre or generation. To refer to the Clash, the Heads and Costello as their peers is like saying Chicagoist is a peer of CNN because we both have Web sites. Download the single of any ten indie rock darlings and you’ll hear the influence of all three. The Sex Pistols remain an influence on many bands too, but only until those bands learn to play their instruments properly.

We know some people get nauseous at the very thought of a rock canon, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is still important. For all its faults*, it’s the only legitimate recognition of an art form that is illegitimate in the eyes of most, even though the ceremony is more corporate than anything this side of Rolling Stone. We’re probably going to get to a point where we stop caring about who gets the nod (we predict this will happen no later than 2025, when Sum 41 becomes eligible). But for now, we’re just happy we do.

* A good friend of ours maintains that until Yes gets inducted, the Hall has no relevancy. Reasonable people could argue that said relevancy is reinforced by such an omission.