Sundays, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and ... a cult?
9 May 2:13pmNicholas Pipitone
In the hall of fame of days, Sunday is a first balloter. Plans and obligations be damned, Sabbath day. I’m going to mindlessly surf twitter and there’s nothing you can do about it. Get out here, Raisin Bran. I’m going to add a few scraps to the Keurig cup landfill. Let’s go.
Eventually of course, the remote wanders into my hands. It does that all by itself, approaches me like it knows I want to know what’s on. I usually go right to HBO. Maher, nah. Hidden Figures? Nah. Boxing? On a Sunday morning? Why? Ballers? Really?
Rock and Roll Hall of fame Induction Ceremony? CLICK.
Let’s go down a rabbit hole.
Shit. I didn’t think this early on a Sunday I’d be thinking, “Damn, I love Nights In White Satin” but here I am. The silver-haired nearly octogenarian Moody Blues are playing; a 2018 inductee and creators of some of my favorite album titles. “In Search of the Lost Chord” is as pretentious as it is fake artsy. But it worked. Justin Hayward’s voice sound good for his age. The crescendo in the chorus “But I love you, yes I love you” gives me the feels.
Sunday. A little mid-tempo art rock. What could go wrong?
Bon Jovi is the next inductee.
You know, if you close your eyes you feel like you’re watching an updated version of the 2001 “masterpiece” Rock Star with Marky Mark Wahlberg. The Howard Stern intro is almost perfectly cast, it’s vomiting New Jersey all over the place. Stern leads a sing-along of “I’m a cowboy …” and the crowd joins in willingly. I’m half emotional until I realize, God, these lyrics suck.
“… There are two paths in music – play for fun or play for keeps,” Mr. Bon Jovi says, as if quoting a rejected version of the aforementioned Rock Star script. It’s almost beyond criticism – I’m watching Jon Bon Jovi speak and I’m somehow expecting eloquence? I’m bored. Time to mindlessly surf Facebook.
I scroll, hoping to find another rabbit hole and see that 88Nine DJ Extraordinaire Ken Sumka has posted an article “All 214 Artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ranked From Best to Worst.” I click on it wildly scrolling down like a kid in a candy store dying to see Green Day lounging at the bottom of the rock dumpster at #214.
But no. Damn. It’s Bon Jovi.
The article is brilliant. It speaks of the real hero in the Bon Jovi story, Desmond Child, the Songwriting Hall of Fame inductee who wrote “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Child is the genius (my adjective, not yours) behind some of rock’s most cheeseball balladry, along with “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” “Livin La Vida Loca,” and other tunes you won’t admit you kind of like. I’m willing to bet when Child was writing those songs he wasn’t thinking “I want to make weddings better FOREVER.”
He also wrote the song, “I Was Made For Loving You,” a big hit in the late 70s for Kiss. It’s crazy because that song is not a rock song; it’s a disco laden slice of sugar that feels ridiculously out of place for a band like Kiss. The video is kind of uncomfortable to watch. Peter Criss is not a disco drummer. But you can’t help but believe the lyrics are coming directly from Paul Stanley’s deeply sexualized masculine heart:
Tonight I want to give it all to you
In the darkness
There’s so much I want to do …
Child also impersonated John Lennon to get to Clive Davis at a music industry event in the early 1970s. His band “Desmond Child and Rouge” had a minor hit in the late 70s. And in a strange and bizarre turn, he joined a cult called “Akwenasa” in which he lived for four years and lost a million dollars.
Turns out the cult leader wanted the members to denounce success, continually telling them, “it doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.” Hmm, where have I heard that one before? Is it possible the rallying cry from one of the more famous pop songs of the 80s are is words of a bizarre cult leader? "Livin' on a Prayer?" Who knew?
I think I found the bottom of this Sunday morning rabbit hole.
Read "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members ranked from best to worst" here.
Read a revealing Desmond Child interview here.
Hear the original demo for "Livin' on a Prayer" here.
(Featured Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images/Rock Hall)