Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
We start off this week with pictures, a whole bunch. All of the following women have something in common. See how many you know.
You probably recognized quite a few of those artists. Famous entertainers, every single one. They’re all in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
To clarify, that last photo is Whitney Houston. Last month she was on the list of the latest Hall of Fame inductees.
So, a little over 30 pictures above of some very talented HOF members. Not enough according to Ann Powers, National Public Radio’s music critic and correspondent. Only 8% of the inductees are women, and Powers made a case that 41 other women should be included. It’s an interesting list. We’ll examine a few and see if you agree with Powers’ reasoning.
Let’s get started. Powers writes that the most serious snub is that of Carole King.
“But she’s in as a songwriter (in partnership with her ex-husband, Gerry Goffin)!” That weak argument has stood between King and the placement she rightly deserves for too long. Tapestry is one of the biggest-selling albums of all time and the definitive emotional soundtrack for countless women and men of the baby boom.”
King wrote “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for the Shirelles with then-husband Gerry Goffin when she was 17. And that’s not all: “Take Good Care Of My Baby” (Bobby Vee, 1961), “The Loco-Motion” (Little Eva, 1962), “Up On The Roof” (The Drifters, 1962), “Chains” (The Cookies, 1962; The Beatles, 1963), “One Fine Day” (The Chiffons, 1963), “Hey Girl” (Freddie Scott, 1963), “I’m Into Something Good” (Herman’s Hermits, 1964), “Just Once In My Life” (with Phil Spector for The Righteous Brothers, 1965), and “Don’t Bring Me Down” (The Animals, 1966).
While she was recording Tapestry in 1971 James Taylor recorded King’s “You’ve Got A Friend,” taking the song all the way to No. 1. Tapestry spawned four GRAMMY Awards® — Record, Song and Album Of The Year as well as Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female honors. With more than 25 million units sold worldwide, Tapestry remained the best-selling album by a female artist for a quarter century, and King went on to amass three other platinum and eight gold albums. Tapestry was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1998.
Remember, we’re talking about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Again, Powers writes:
“Never simply confined to the country genre, the legendary (Patsy) Cline showed both the raw emotion and willingness to transcend musical boundaries that rock and roll supposedly pioneered.”
Dean Martin, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Ringo Starr, Anne Murray and Bob Dylan all recorded “You Belong To Me.”
Yes, those are the Jordanaires, Elvis’ backup singers, featured on that recording.
Why isn’t Cline, a huge star, in the Rock Hall of Fame? One reason could be that her final four Top Ten country singles didn’t make the pop Top 40.
Cline died in a plane crash in March of 1963. She was only 30.
The next song has the same title but it’s a totally different tune. From Powers:
“As witty a social commentator as Randy Newman and as heartfelt a memoirist as her most-gossiped-about husband James Taylor, (Carly) Simon was the most glamorous Everywoman in an era when feminism and pop pushed each other into new territory.”
Simon believed singing would be a great way to overcome her childhood stuttering. It worked. She recorded more than a dozen Top 40 hits.
Some tidbits about Simon. She had flings with Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson, Jack Nicholson and Cat Stevens, and was married to James Taylor.
A breast cancer survivor, King suffered from anxiety and depression.
She was the first artist to have won three major awards — Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe. Simon is now 74.
What about Connie Francis? Powers says she also needs to be inducted.
“The top singles artist of the late 1950s, Francis embodied teenage girls’ yearnings – the rocket fuel that made rock and roll run – but was, for too long, considered too ‘pop’ for the Hall. Such distinctions make no sense in the era of Ariana Grande.”
In 1958, Cashbox, Billboard and the Jukebox Operators of America named Connie Francis as the #1 Female Vocalist. She was named Top Female Vocalist by all the trades for six consecutive years, a record never surpassed. Francis remains the most commercially successful female singer of all time with an estimated world-wide sales figure in excess of two hundred million.
This song came out in 1959. That same year Francis said in an interview “Rock ‘n’ roll is a masculine kind of music. ‘Come on out baby we’re going to rock’…suited for a man to sing…The mistake that many girl singers have made is trying to compete with the men [whereas] I’ve tried for the cute angle in lyrics.”
In early November of 1974 Francis was on tour and was returning from a theater to a Howard Johnson Motel where she’d been staying. There she was brutally robbed, beaten and raped at knife point. The incident made headlines across the globe. The case went to trial where Francis was awarded $2.6 million for the motel chain’s failure to provide a safe room. It was the largest amount ever awarded in a case of sexual assault in the world, but brought no satisfaction to Francis. Following the attack she went into seclusion for the next seven years.
On being rejected for the Hall of Fame Francis once said, “I have no plausible explanation for this oversight, and I’m certain, that if asked, the ‘impartial’ members of this committee couldn’t dream up a logical explanation either. But I take solace in the fact that I’m not alone, because there are many other multi-million-seller artists who’ve also been inexplicably overlooked by this ‘exclusive’ club, as well. It’s a colossal joke. As a matter of fact, in the very unlikely event that I were ever to be nominated, I would undoubtedly decline. It’s nothing but a patently and unabashedly political issue.”
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
You can read Ann Powers’ article here to see who else she thinks deserves to be in the HOF.
And now Powers with our close.
“The queen of contemplative pop, whose reputation has been rehabilitated by young critics and musicians who understand the power in her soft approach, is as influential on current pop as any screaming rocker. She released her first single in 1966.”
On the morning of February 4, 1983, Karen Carpenter collapsed at her family’s home in Downey, California. She was taken to a local hospital, but the medical staff was unable to revive her. Carpenter died of heart failure after a longtime battle with anorexia. She was 32.