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NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson and Robin Young to discuss the new inductees.
“I think one thing people need to keep in mind about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is that it’s a legacy award. It’s something that you win when you’ve been in the business for at least 25 years. So any artist that’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has to have been active at or before 1988. So, it’s an award for a collective body of work up to this point,” Thompson says.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
And a quick look now at the newest inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, announced today. That's Nirvana. Then there's Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens and KISS.
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson joins us to talk about this. And Stephen, first of all, what does it mean to get in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame right now?
STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: Well, I think one thing people need to keep in mind about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is that it's a legacy award. It's something that you win when you've been in the business for at least 25 years. So any artist that's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has to have been active at or before 1988. And so it's an award for a collective body of work up to this point.
YOUNG: Well, OK, thank you very much. And for the rest of this segment, we're going to play Linda Ronstadt's "Desperado."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESPERADO")
LINDA RONSTADT: (Singing) Desperado, why don't you come to your senses? You've been out riding fences for so long now.
THOMPSON: Well, when you look at Linda Ronstadt's credentials for a legacy award like this, I mean, you're talking about somebody who has sold more than 30 million albums in a number of different genres. I think she's also a natural sentimental pick for an award like this. It was announced this year that due to Parkinson's disease, she can't - she can no longer sing.
HOBSON: Stephen, another inductee announced today is Peter Gabriel, who, by the way, is already in the Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis. But let's listen to his song, "In Your Eyes."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN YOUR EYES")
PETER GABRIEL: (Singing) In your eyes, the light, the heat, I am complete. I see the doorway of a thousand churches.
YOUNG: OK, everybody, life your boom boxes.
YOUNG: Great song.
HOBSON: Stephen, as you said, that song is from 1986. But what about Peter Gabriel?
THOMPSON: Well, I think Peter Gabriel, part of what's interesting about him is that, you know, he won - he's been in the Hall of Fame for a few years as a member of Genesis, but his solo work, to me, is very different from Genesis, you know. And so he is an inductee and a Hall of Famer in, you know, fairly different kinds of music.
His work in Genesis was much more progressive rock, and his work as a solo artist, you know - though it has had, you know, certainly strong, arty impulses - is really pop music.
HOBSON: Anyone you think should've gotten in that didn't?
THOMPSON: I will die on the hill of Weird Al Yankovic.
HOBSON: Oh, yes. Absolutely.
MARISA PENALOZA, BYLINE: And I think part of the - it's a little bit like the Grammys. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame feeds off the rage of the excluded. You know, I think part of being a music fan is, for a lot of people, is feeling like an outsider. And so the fact that everybody is mad that somebody's not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is very good for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
HOBSON: How could somebody who did "I Lost on Jeopardy" not be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Well, there is one more that we've got here, we'll go out on, Stephen. Let me first say thank you very much, Stephen, NPR music writer and editor. But also, we want to hear from Cat Stevens, who's an inductee here. But, of course, he's known, Robin, as Yusuf Islam.
YOUNG: But this is for his work as Cat Stevens.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
CAT STEVENS: (Singing) Oh, I've been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one. And I believe...
HOBSON: A little Cat Stevens, and you're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
Peter O’Dowd follows the route of Abraham Lincoln's funeral train 150 years ago, to look at modern-day race relations and Lincoln's legacy.