Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Ain't Nobody: The Case for Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan

Tell Me That You Like Me On his 1986 single “Higher Love,” Steve Winwood enlisted Chaka Khan to repeat the song's chorus on an extended coda. Winwood was generally considered one of the best of the British white blues singers, but asking Chaka to follow him was a terrible idea: She cleaned his clock, making him sound reedy and shallow with her effortless power. I used to sit through that whole song just waiting for Chaka to blow that skinny white boy away. Nobody upstages Chaka Khan.

Chaka Khan was just 33 at that point, but she was a veteran of the R&B wars, having assumed the lead vocalist spot with Rufus in 1972 at the tender age of 18. (She had already been in the Black Panthers by that point, and gotten married.) Her first chart success with the band was the classic “Tell Me Something Good,” written and produced by Stevie Wonder, from 1973, and almost from that moment on, there was talk of Chaka going solo. The nomination under consideration today is for “Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan,” but clearly we are intended to include her own body of work as well as Rufus (or Ask Rufus, as they were initially known, after the advice column in Mechanics Illustrated).

Khan held on with Rufus through nine albums and 13 Top Forty hits (there were also three non-Khan Rufus albums, all of which stiffed), culminating in the dazzling farewell single “Ain’t Nobody,” from 1983, which set the template for ‘80s dance records. She then immediately hit big with “I Feel for You,” written and produced by Prince, with a harmonica solo from her old benefactor Stevie Wonder and an introductory rap from Melle Mel. The personnel listing alone confirms Chaka Khan as R&B royalty.

Chaka wrote Rufus’ “Sweet Thing” with guitarist Tony Maiden, taking it to the Top Five in 1975, then sang on Quincy Jones' "I'll Be Good to You," in 1989. All in all, her hitmaking career spanned nearly 25 years, and all the hits are indelible, holding up very well.  

Let Me Rock You, That's All I Want to Do When I was compiling my framework for how to think about each vote, I realized that in a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, coolness is the paramount virtue. Nobody was cooler than Chaka Khan. Just think about that name, one of the great names in rock & roll: distinctive but not jokey, heavily rhythmic, exotic without being entirely foreign. These things matter. It’s not even completely made up, since the former Yvette Stevens adopted it upon marrying her first husband, bassist Hassan Khan.

Chaka Khan and Rufus have been on the ballot before, and fallen short; I don’t know if there will be another go-round for either. The time to vote for her is now. I vote yes for Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Sensual World: The Case of Kate Bush

Running Up That Hill Kate Bush is hugely respected by a lot of people I respect. Not only is her music sui generis, instantly identifiable as her own indefinable product, but from the beginning of her career, she was a one-woman gang, writing and producing (and playing piano on) her own material. She was the first woman ever to have a Number One hit in Britain with a song she wrote herself, with 1978's "Wuthering Heights," when she was just 19.

For a while it looked like she might be a star here in the U.S. of A., too. She was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on December 9, 1978 (Eric Idle was the host), and though it took a while, she even had a Top Forty hit here, with "Running Up That Hill" in 1985.

But it wasn't to happen. Her second-highest charting single was the execrable "Don't Give Up," with Peter Gabriel. Kate Bush's impact on the U.S. record-buying public has been virtually nil.

That doesn't have to be a disqualifier, though. Leonard Cohen sold fewer records than Frankie Yankovic, but I still cheerfully voted for him, because of his influence on the larger music world and because his records are just so ridiculously good. I'm having a hard time seeing Kate Bush as qualifying on either accord.

I'd Make a Deal With God I think her records are well-written but overproduced, and her voice is kind of silly. She skirts the line between dramatic and pretentious, and it can be really tough to stay on the right side of that boundary. (In the video for "Wuthering Heights," at one point, she looks like she's speed-skating in a formal gown.) You can see why some people worship her, but I'm never gonna be one of those people.

I don't mean to be negative about her work, which can be very striking, and which never sounds like anyone other than Kate Bush. That's a very good thing. And when she lands just right, her music is quite beautiful.

But I just don't see her having a huge enough impact on the world of rock & roll, or even of American pop music (I'm not qualified to comment on British pop) to extend her a vote. In the end, I think Kate Bush is an easier artist to admire than to listen to. I vote no on Kate Bush.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Living in Synth: The Case of Depeche Mode

All I Ever Wanted Depeche Mode seems like they ought to be the epitome of something, being one of the most popular and certainly the most long-lived of the British synth-pop groups that emerged in the early 1980s. They were stars in England almost from their first release in 1980, although they didn’t break through in the U.S. until “People Are People” went to Number 13 in 1985. But “Just Can’t Get Enough” – which, let’s face it, is a much better song – had crashed the dance charts in 1981, off the band’s first album, Speak & Spell.

The primary songwriter on Speak & Spell was Vince Clarke, who wrote nine of its 11 songs, including “Just Can’t Get Enough,” but he left the band after that first record came out. “We basically just weren't getting on,” Clarke said later. "We were really young, and we did quite well very quickly, and it all became too much.” Starting with their second album, Martin Gore took over the songwriting, and he proved to be almost as good at it as Clarke. (Clarke, by the way, was born Vincent Martin, but changed his name because he was on the dole and would lose his benefits if the government knew he was making money via his band.)

Changing chief songwriters is as fraught a move as changing frontmen, and even moreso for a synth-pop group, where the material is pretty much the entire band. Pink Floyd changed primary songwriters and thrived, as did the Doobie Brothers, but it’s pretty rare for a band to succeed that way.

Depeche Mode only got bigger with Gore as its composer, although I don't think they ever got better. The band’s 1990 album Violator spawned three hit singles in the U.S., including “Enjoy the Silence,” their only Top Ten hit, and “Personal Jesus,” arguably their best post-Clarke song. They had Top Forty hits as late as 1997, and had a Number One hit on the U.S. dance charts as late as 2013 with “Heaven.”

That should have made them some kind of grizzled legend in the electronic-dance music world, but they never quite seemed to attain that status. Daft Punk has saluted artists ranging from Philip Glass to the Eagles as influences, but never, to my knowledge, Depeche Mode. Depeche were never as good as other 1980s dance titans like New Order or Pet Shop Boys, even though they outlasted those groups as hitmakers. 

Let’s Play Master and Servant Vince Clarke seems to be the sticking point here. It’s hard for me to support a band that lost its key member after one album, and was never as good again. After Clarke left Depeche Mode, he formed Yaz with Alison Moyet and released “Don’t Go” and “Situation,” both of which are better than anything in the Depeche catalog. Then he went on to form Erasure, which was a lot more fun than Depeche, especially with “A Little Respect.” And none of those groups was the best British dance-pop group of the 1980s; New Order was.

Depeche Mode blazed trails in EDM, arguably laying the groundwork for a genre that continues to be vital today. “Personal Jesus” is 26 years old and still sounds pretty fresh. They even established themselves as a must-see live act, which you wouldn’t expect from a synth-pop band. I like Depeche Mode; honestly, I do. I just don’t see what they’ve done to differentiate themselves from other bands of their ilk. New Order hasn’t even ever been nominated, for pity’s sake. I vote no on Depeche Mode.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Don't Call This a Comeback: The Case of LL Cool J

I Can't Live Without My Radio LL Cool J had a burst of hits in his very early career. “I Can’t Live Without My Radio,” released in 1985 when he was just 17, didn’t make the pop charts, but it went to the Top Twenty on the R&B charts, and became a signature song for Cool J. It was followed by “I Need Love,” “Going Back to Cali,” “Around the Way Girl” and “Mama Said Knock You Out,” all of which made the Top Forty and all of which are very familiar to me.

Ironically, although “Mama Said” urged “Don’t all this a comeback,” it actually marked the end of the first phase of Cool J’s career. He was gone from the pop charts for a few years (the album 14 Shots to the Dome, his gangsta rap effort, was a bit of a flop) before landing again with four more Top Ten hits in 1995 and 1996. Then he went off to be a movie star before returning to the pop charts with four more hit singles between 2002 and 2006.

Maybe it’s just the trajectory of my own life, which got me out of the hip-hop game in the mid-1990s, but I get the feeling that LL Cool J will ultimately be remembered for that first run of singles. They were clearly hip-hop but also well-crafted pop songs, to the point that “I Need Love” was covered by Irish singer Luka Bloom. LL Cool J wrote and produced all those singles, too. And he did all this by the time he was 23. 

Don't Tell Me, I Don't Think So At first blush, I assumed that LL Cool J was a lightweight pop rapper, but the more I look at him, the more impressed I get. The only other rap act to have legitimate, multiple pop hits that early on was Run-D.M.C., who were inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame back in 2009. Gangsta rap kind of overcame LL's brand in the early 1990s, but that shouldn't overshadow what a trailblazer he was. Neither should his latter career in soft-headed sitcoms and NCIS spinoffs. And the fact that he was able to come back with more hits after N.W.A, and then even more hits after the advent of Eminem, is to his strong credit.

Having said that, I can't quite bring myself to vote for LL Cool J. His stuff wasn't that strong, and there are other acts I'd rather support at this time. But I wouldn't mind it if he made it in.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sad Wings of Destiny: The Case of Judas Priest

British Steel By far the most interesting thing about the British hard rock band Judas Priest is that after a couple of decades of purveying nasty leather-clad pop metal, lead singer Rob Halford came out as gay. The second most interesting thing about them is that Beavis and Butt-Head were huge fans, with Beavis in particular being fond of shouting out the chorus to the Priest’s song “Breaking the Law.” 

The third most interesting thing about Judas Priest is that after Halford temporarily quit the band, he was replaced by a kid named Tim "Ripper" Owens, who was the lead singer in a Judas Priest tribute band. This became less interesting when Journey more or less did the same thing. At any rate, these are not the elements of a Hall of Fame resume.

Judas Priest formed in 1968, released their debut album Rocka Rolla in 1974, and are still out there fighting the good fight, so you have to give them credit for longevity. It’s incredible that they’ve lasted this long without ever being any good, or even very popular. They’ve never had a Top Forty hit or a Top Ten album in the U.S. They have had exactly two songs land in the Top Ten on the Mainstream Rock chart, “Heading Out to the Highway” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.” Whoop-de-do.

They’re basically Spinal Tap. For a while Halford would enter their shows on a Harley-Davidson, and at one show in Toronto in 1991, he was seriously injured when he rammed his motorcycle into the drum riser, which he couldn’t see because it was hidden by dry ice mist. They later released a concept album about Nostradamus.

Defenders of the Faith Why are they on the Hall of Fame ballot? Deep Purple got in a couple of years ago, and I guess Judas Priest might be the next logical step after them. Even then, I don’t see what differentiates them from Iron Maiden or the Scorpions – as odious as the Scorpions are, at least people still sometimes listen to “Rock You Like a Hurricane” once in a while. As I was preparing to write this essay, and the only Judas Priest song I could even remember was the wan “Living After Midnight,” because it was on MTV a lot back in the Alan Hunter days.

The Hall of Fame seems to be making more of a nod to the populist acts, ones who were never taken seriously by critics but maintained a solid fan base among the dodgier reaches of the rock & roll audience. But it’s hard to say that Judas Priest is even among the most significant or respected of these groups. I'd sooner vote for .38 Special. Judas Priest is an easy no vote for me.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

What Happened, Miss Simone? The Case of Nina Simone

Little Girl Blue Everybody loves Nina Simone, a world-class classical pianist who turned into a jazz-folk legend with her own innovative style of performing. Her talent or significance is not really in question here. The predominant question is, does she belong in a Hall of Fame dedicated to rock & roll, when she has very little to do with the genre? Yes, she covered “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” but Frank Sinatra covered “Something,” and I don’t see Ol’ Blue Eyes on the ballot.

After her early lifetime was consumed with classical piano, Miss Simone only turned to singing when the Atlantic City nightclub she was playing in promised her more money if she vocalized as well.  That was also when she adopted her stage name. Did you know that Nina Simone had an actual hit single? In 1957, her version of "I Loves You, Porgy" (off her debut album, Little Girl Blue) went to Number 18 on the Billboard pop charts - and Number Two on the R&B charts. 

I suppose this can push her case in either direction:  Having a Top Twenty hit in the first flower of the rock & roll era establishes her as at least a pop act, if not a rock & roll act. On the other hand, Porgy and Bess is nobody's idea of a rock opera.

Trouble in Mind She did become a civil rights folk hero in 1964 with her song "Mississippi Goddam," the blasphemy being very carefully chosen in response to the murder of Medgar Evers.  It obviously never became a hit, but it did become one of her signature songs, and she sang it in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in front of 10,000 people who had marched there from Selma. Miss Simone later claimed that the record industry sabotaged her sales because of that controversial song, but that ship had already sailed. Since "I Love You, Porgy," she hadn't had a single reach higher than Number 92 on the charts.

Incidentally, one of the greatest songs in the modern pop canon is “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon,” written and originally recorded by Jonathan King. Many artists have covered it, from Marlene Dietrich to the Flaming Lips. I was very excited to see that Miss Simone had also done it – but she sings it in a weird atonal, off-key voice. Given that it’s Miss Simone, I’m sure there’s a purpose to this, but I can’t imagine what it is. If anyone knows, please contact the author c/o this blog.

I Put a Spell on You None of that isn't to say that she wasn't great. She was a hugely compelling performer incorporating a wide range of styles, to the point that it was fairly impossible to define what genre she inhabited, and she wrote a lot of her own material as well. Her fierce courage and sense of self-worth would influence many generations of African-American artists, and a whole lot of white ones too.

Nina Simone has gotten a lot of deserved attention lately, nearly 15 years after her death, from the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? and the fictionalized feature Nina, among other events. It's well earned, as she was an important and admirable artist. But she wasn't rock & roll. I'd love to vote for Loretta Lynn, too, but she's not rock & roll either. I vote no for Nina Simone.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Who's That Girl? The Case of Eurythmics

I Was Born an Original Sinner To me, Eurythmics will always be emblematic of the early days of MTV, when "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," with its inscrutable, abstract visuals, synth-heavy repetitive instrumentation, and bizarre-looking pair of bandmates, set a high but attainable standard for other videos to follow. "Sweet Dreams" wasn't released until January 1983, some 18 months into the MTV era, which surprises me; it seems to have been there from the beginning. 

And I didn't even realize until I started researching this essay (yes, I research these things) that "Sweet Dreams" wasn't the Eurythmics' debut album, having followed 1981's In the Garden. But in most senses, Sweet Dreams was the start of their career, leading to ten Top Forty singles, all of them appropriately enough charting in the Eighties. "Sweet Dreams" was actually the fourth single from the album, but the first to even make the Billboard Hot 100. It went to Number One on September 3, 1983, nine months after the album's release.

They eventually moved on from the synth-drenched early sound to the crunchy guitar of "Would I Lie to You?" and the harmonica-driven "Missionary Man," with producer and multi-instrumentalist David Stewart showing he could do just about anything. He would eventually be recruited by artists ranging from Tom Petty to t.A.T.u as a producer and married one of the girls from Bananarama.

But the face and heart of Eurythmics was of course Annie Lennox. Listed on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Singers of All Time, she was able to sing alongside Aretha Franklin (on Eurythmics' "Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves") and not sound ridiculous. Both beautiful and androgynous, she was also one of the most iconic faces of pop music in the Eighties. These things matter.

Would I Lie to You? Ironically enough, when that same magazine reviewed 1985's Be Yourself Tonight, critic Joyce Millman launched no shortage of controversy when she wrote, "[S]he still has trouble conveying warmth and spontaneity — she simply ain't got no soul." I think it's fair to say that criticism hasn't stood the test of time. Millman went on to be one of the founders of

Hey, did you know Annie Lennox appeared in the movie The Room? Unfortunately, it's not the Tommy Wiseau disaster-fest but a TV movie based on a Harold Pinter play, but at least it was directed by Robert Altman, the thinking man's Tommy Wiseau. 

Who Am I to Disagree? Eurythmics split in 1990, and Lennox went on to release some excellent solo albums, while Stewart busied himself as a producer. I don't exactly know what to do with these things, if they become part of a group's dossier or not. Even without that extra credit, the duo has a solid body of work, with a range of hits that fill a wide sonic palette while always feeling like Eurythmics. As part of MTV's original vanguard, they set the tone both musically and visually for the Eighties. 

They seem to have all the markers in place. Their music is memorable and enduring, their hits both defined their time and remained somewhat timeless, their look and sound were both uniquely their own. I'm voting yes for Eurythmics. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Total Destroy: The Case of the MC5

Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa When Rolling Stone magazine collected articles for a 25th anniversary issue, an MC5 profile by Eric Ehrmann was the earliest feature selected. When that article first appeared, the MC5 was one of the hottest acts in rock, even though their debut album, the live Kick Out the Jams, hadn’t been released yet. They were at the crossroads of the hippie movement and what would come to be called punk, all roaring guitars and political anger, propelled by the anthemic title single.

That was probably the high point for the MC5, when they were all promise and no delivery. Shortly after that article appeared, Lester Bangs reviewed Kick Out the Jams for Rolling Stone, and he was not impressed, calling it “this ridiculous, overbearing, pretentious album.” It reached a rather wan Number 30 on the album charts, with the title single going to Number 87.

My sense is that the MC5 worked better as an idea than as a band. I worked for Rolling Stone when the magazine reran their cover story, and what struck me about that feature was how retrograde the band was. They lived together in a house in Detroit Big Pink-style, where they were attended to by their old ladies, who I don’t believe were even granted names in the article. Their entire position was to serve the men, although the article did praise the “total destroy barbecue” they prepared for them.

The MC5 released their second album Back in the USA, produced by future Springsteen honcho Jon Landau, in 1972. It didn’t do as well as Kick Out the Jams. Their third album, High Time, from 1971, did even worse, and the band was shortly no more.

At this point, nobody listens to the MC5. Lester Bangs notwithstanding, Kick Out the Jams has regained some luster in the ensuing years, being named to Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, but they’re never played on classic rock radio, and their musical lineage lives on primarily through the work of Ted Nugent. All the White Panther Party rhetoric seems silly now, but hey, it meant something back then. Especially to Ted.

Kick out the Jams The MC5 really were an important band. Their saga kicks off the indispensable punk chronicle Please Kill Me, and their mix of heavy metal thunder and political broadsides showed a new way for rock music to go. In a sense, they remind me of N.W.A, who easily made it into the Rock Hall last year, despite a career that was even shorter than the MC5’s. But N.W.A had lasting cultural significance, and I don't see anybody making movies about the MC5 25 years after their demise.

Given the choice between cultural significance and musical quality, I’ll go with musical quality every time. I just don’t see enough of it in the MC5’s case. I vote no for the MC5.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Such a Pretty Garden: The Case of Radiohead

Baby's Got the Bends This might be hard for some of you younger fans to deal with, but once upon a time, Radiohead was considered not much different from Nada Surf or Harvey Danger, rock bands that had a fun left-field hit in the early 1990s but that we never expected to hear much more from. "Creep" was a great single, full of self-loathing and that great chukka-chukka guitar hook, and if that was all Radiohead ever did, Nineties kids would still remember them fondly. But they did a lot more.

Eventually, of course, they'd deconstruct rock & roll and put it back together in mind-blowing (but still fun!) new ways. I think those early days are, in a way, key to what Radiohead eventually achieved. If you'll pardon the hyperbole, Radiohead remind me of Pablo Picasso, who was a tremendous draftsman in his younger days before he started moving facial parts all around women's heads. If he didn't know exactly how to draw realistically, he wouldn't have nearly as effective making his cubist visions.

Radiohead's early songs are brimming with pop smarts. After "Creep" hit, they landed "Fake Plastic Trees" and "High and Dry" on the British charts, and those songs are as tightly and brightly constructed as anything from Abba or Elvis Costello. Having that ability (and getting that out of their system) allowed them to make OK Computer, with its radical rethinking of what rock songs could be. Still and all, "Karma Police" and "No Surprises" are brilliantly composed and borderline tragic.

Don't Leave Me Dry "No Surprises," by the way, was initially included on the soundtrack to A Night at the Roxbury, the "Saturday Night Live" spinoff film with Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan, until preview audiences found it so heart-melting that it took them completely out of the movie in utter sadness, and the song had to be replaced. Of course, most people would have preferred to be taken completely out of A Night at the Roxbury.

After OK Computer, Radiohead's albums became events in the way that Beatles albums were events, and they usually lived up to the expectation: Kid A and Amnesiac were acclaimed as masterpieces; In Rainbows even spawned a hit single in "Nude," their first trip to the American Top Forty since "Creep." I don't need to convince you guys of this, do I? Radiohead is great.

This Is What You Get Baseball Hall of Fame voters would certainly love to vote for the likes of Willie Mays or Babe Ruth, but realistically, they end up shrugging their shoulders and inducting Bill Mazeroski and Bruce Sutter. Those of us who are fortunate enough to vote for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame would love to elect a Chuck Berry or an Aretha Franklin, the kind of person who makes it feel like an honor to honor them. Most of the time, though, we're chewing over Yes and Joe Tex.

So it's nice to be able to support an artist like this, one that not only belongs but helps define what the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame should be. I know that Thom Yorke and the boys have made disparaging, unenthusiastic noises about what Radiohead's place in the Hall would mean. Bald drummer Phil Selway told the great Rolling Stone interviewer Andy Greene, "We'd have to sit down and talk about it, but it's probably not at the top of my list of things to do." On the other hand, bassist Colin Greenwood: "I'd be grateful if we got in. Look at the other people that have been inducted. I don't know if everyone else will go though. It might be me just doing bass versions of everything like, 'Come on, you know this one!' I'd have to play the bass part to 'Creep' five times." Now that's a Hall of Fame quote.

The bottom line is, too bad for you, Phil: Your band belongs to the world now. And the world wants to give it the highest honor we can. I vote yes for Radiohead. It's fun to vote for Willie Mays.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Jersey Boys: The Case of Bon Jovi

On a Steel Horse I Ride I’ve always loved the opening to Jimmy Guterman’s Rolling Stone review of Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet: “How many clichés can you squeeze into a pop song? Probably not as many as Jon Bon Jovi can. Listen to ‘Raise Your Hands, from his new album Slippery When Wet. (I know, that's two already, but titles don't count.) Bon Jovi lets loose with nasty reputation, sticky situation, ain't nobody better, show me what you can do, under the gun, out on the run, set the night on fire, playin' to win. Pretty impressive, and that's only the first verse.”

Maybe that’s unfair, since “Raise Your Hands” isn’t exactly a landmark in the Bon Jovi canon, but Slippery When Wet is by far the band’s best-selling album, and was its first to go to Number One on the charts. When you think Bon Jovi, you think Slippery. And you think clichés.

You also think of a world-dominating band, whose brand of lightly teased hair metal spawned five Number One hits, from 1986’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” to 1990’s “Blaze of Glory.” That’s as many Number One singles as Prince or the Eagles, a number that legitimately puts them into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame conversation. On the other hand, Milli Vanilli had five Top Five singles (and three Number Ones) in that same time frame. The late Eighties, man.  

We're Halfway There Bon Jovi’s apotheosis came with “Wanted Dead or Alive,” which cast the Jersey pretty boy as an urban cowboy. Jon has said he modeled the song after Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page,” a weary travelogue depicting the downside of being a traveling rock star (which also laments “all the same old clichés”). Jon’s version of this prefers to brag about the fact that he’s seen a million faces and rocked them all, which is undoubtedly true.

“Nobody listens to Bon Jovi's brand of pop metal for its lyrics,” Guterman wrote in the RS review, “they listen because they want to bang their heads lightly. It's a canny marketing strategy, but Bon Jovi's band is barely functional: guitar solos pop up like afterthoughts, bass lines whine like spoiled children, and Jon Bon Jovi's voice is double- and triple-tracked in halfhearted attempts to cloak its blandness.” 

I think he’s wrong about this: Bon Jovi’s lyrics are read by his fans as a way to mythologize their lives, to bring some drama to working in a diner all day, or working on the docks when you’re not out on strike. The rest of Guterman is spot-on, though. He even missed the fact that Jon and the boys worked those late-verse key changes harder than anybody since Barry Manilow, or that Jon makes as nearly many references to guns and shooting as Ted Nugent does.

Shot Down in a Blaze of Glory The bottom line is this: I have never listened to Bon Jovi on purpose. I have no doubt that they will cruise into the Hall of Fame on a steel horse, but I don’t have to be a party to it. Jon Bon Jovi has had far more money, women, recognition and fame than I will ever dream of, and I’m sure he will do quite fine without my approbation.