Aimee Mann’s 1993 Whatever is one of the great debut records, a dazzling collection of smart, emotional pop songs. It began a three decades and counting run of wonderful output by one of music’s most underrated songwriters.
While this was Mann’s solo debut, it’s easy to draw a line to Whatever from ‘Til Tuesday’s final album, 1988’s Everything’s Different Now. That record, for which Mann wrote or co-wrote all but one track, has all the hallmarks of her solo work only in glossy New Wave packaging.
Our next 2013 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee is the Canadian prog rock trio Rush. Formed in Toronto in 1968, the band took a few years to land on its core lineup of vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart, the three gentlemen honored by the Hall.
Rush was first eligible for the Rock Hall in 1999 but didn’t receive a nomination until their induction year of 2013. They were considered one of the major snubs up to that point by Rush Rats.
In 2013, Public Enemy made it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, making them the second hip-hop act to do so (following Run DMC in 2009). Cue the perennial argument over whether rap acts belong in the Rock Hall.
I land in the ‘yes’ camp, recognizing that rock music over the last 35 years owes as much to rap as the rock music of the previous 35 years owed to country and blues. The Rock Hall features plenty of country and blues musicians, so why not rap artists?
Our next 2013 inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is one of my personal musical heroes, Mr. Randy Newman. Newman first became eligible for the Hall in 1988 and was first nominated in 2005. He didn’t make the cut that year but had better luck the second time he made the ballot.
Newman reacted to the news with his usual dry sense of humor, saying “I really thought maybe I’d have to die first. I didn’t think it would happen if it didn’t happen, you know, a little earlier. But this is great. I’m really glad it happened when I was still around to see it.”
The next performer inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 2013 class was blues guitarist Albert King. Eligible since 1988, King died in 1992 so didn’t live to see his induction in his first nominated year (he would have to have lived to the ripe old age of 91 to do so).
King was born Albert Nelson, but changed his name to that of another blues legend, B.B. King, so he could pass himself off as the latter’s brother. B.B. King wasn’t crazy about that until he met Albert, saying “I got to know him and realized he was right; he wasn’t my brother in blood, but he sure was my brother in the blues.”