Tom Morello is my new favorite rock star. The music he's created isn't my favorite, but he's really everything I'd want in an idol. Maybe it's just that as a writer, I so appreciate the articulate speech he gave in honoring the Clash at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, conveying not only the band's music and social impact on the world, but their musical and social impact on him. By comparison, Billy Joel often found it easiest to explain the wonders of the Righteous Brothers by singing, hard-pressed to find spoken words to communicate his emotions.
My main complaint with Gwen Stefani's speech is that for all her professed
love of the band, it sounded like she discovered them with Synchronicity
and never dug into their back catalog. I can't say she was obviously worthy
of making the Police induction speech, but as the leader of the most enduring
band of the third wave of ska, and one that expanded their musical boundaries
beyond that same, repetitive syncopated beat, there wasn't an obviously more
worthy choice. Any disappointment I have with her being less articulate than
Tom Morello is offset by her willingness to show such an unflattering photo
of her overweight teenage self getting an autograph from a disinterested
But I'm absolutely disgusted that they allowed John Mayer on the stage with
the Police. He's this year's Jewel, utterly out of his league. Watching the
broadcast, I thought it was Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, which says it all
about how hopelessly generic Mayer and Matchbox 20 are in both their appearance
and their music. The Police were the antithesis of generic, a band of such
singular musicianship that no one else is capable of sounding like them.
Men at Work simplified the reggae influences, but it was never like the Rolling
Stones formula where any garage band could pull off an adequate version.
Twenty-five years from now, people will still extol the glories of the Police,
and John Mayer will have been long forgotten.