Admittedly, working at the museum provides a unique perspective on the induction ceremony. We sometimes will know far in advance who is or isn’t appearing and who may or may not perform. You look at it on paper and the conversation starts. What will this year’s event be like? It’s taken me a long time to come to a conclusion but I think I’ve figured it out. It doesn’t matter if this band member doesn’t come or that artist doesn’t perform. That’s all distraction. What makes each annual ceremony a singular event is the display of real human emotion. That’s all that truly matters. It’s the moment these performers drop the artifice and protection mode they often employ just to survive being in the spotlight, and genuinely reveal themselves. Last night at the Waldorf, Iggy Pop, the most fearsome and uncompromising performer I have ever seen, spoke of the Stooges and his late friend and band mate Ron Asheton, with tears in his eyes. ABBA’s Benny Andersson wistfully remembering buying his first record (Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel” / “Treat Me Nice”) and how this new and totally foreign music captured him. Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder jumping on stage with the Stooges, embracing bassist Mike Watt and shouting along to “I Wanna Be Your Dog” like he’s been fanaticizing about it since he was 13 years-old. Graham Nash, now twice inducted, marveling at his 63 year friendship with fellow Hollie Alan Clarke.
Music is made real when it connects to the listener’s emotions. When the inductees speak from the heart, it’s where the Hall of Fame becomes real.