Monday, April 22, 2013

On Cat Stevens and the Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio is kind of horrifically depressing. It's like looking at all the best things about rock that have already died, and then tribute pieces to the still-living pieces who are doing their best to discredit their early innovations with weak attempts at reinvention and re-invigoration [read: "relevance"].

That said, it's still by far the coolest, most amazing museum a museum can be without those crazy-realistic animatronic raptor costumes. Truthfully, the only down-sides to the R&R HoF are

1) The coolest exhibits are all dead and you can never rock out with them in person, and

2) It closes at 5:30 p.m. on Fridays.

Seriously, what kind of rock and rollers close shop at 5:30? Answer: the kind old enough to be in the Hall but didn't live hard enough to be dead yet. So the B-squad, I guess. (In their defence, wednesdays the Hall is open until 9, so maybe Wednesday night is concert night.)

Man, I hope this style comes back in fashion soon. I've been failing to rock it for 20 years already.


Now, Cat Stevens was nominated for entry to the Hall of Fame back in 2006. There is some speculation that he may never be inducted in life simply for fear that he might make some religiously-themed comments in his acceptance speech. This is patently ridiculous.

Firstly, let's just get tolerance out of the way. Yes, Islam is a touchy subject, politically, but what kind of rock and rollers should give a fuck? None. Also, they wouldn't care I just said, "fuck." Yes, most probably, "Yusuf Islam" would likely say some political, theological bullshit. So do Tom Cruise and Isaac Hayes. We just don't want to hear them say anything they believe in, we just want to hear them do their jobs entertaining us. Big whoop.

No, the more important thing here is that Cat Stevens should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Yusuf Islam hasn't had a relevant album, single, or compilation in his entire career. Yusuf Islam has no business being the the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Now, I understand that's like saying Prince is a separate artist from "The Artist Formally Known As Prince," except Stevens wasn't a dispute over contract negotiations. Cat converted religion, changed his name again (he was originally Steven Demetre Georgiou and in fact now goes under the stage name "Ysuf" sans-surname), and for a time wrote only music glorifying the prophet Mohammad and making Islam relevant and accessible to young people.

Functionally, Cat Stevens and Yusuf Islam are completely different musical artists with separate careers in wildly different decades.

Honor Cat Stevens with a lifetime achievement award, or a Medal of Honor for services rendered.

Then give Yusuf a big pat on the back for trying so hard.

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