"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"
Folk music princess Joan Baez notwithstanding, the 1960s seem to be officially dead at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, based on the inductees announced today.
Baez is in, along with 1970s progressive rock acts Yes, Journey and Electric Light Orchestra, and first time nominees Pearl Jam and Tupac Shakur--also both '90s artists and the two runaway favorites for induction. Sixties acts The Zombies, MC5 and Steppenwolf—the only ones selected by this RockHall voter—all missed the cut, as did fellow '60s act Joe Tex.
That Baez is the sole '60s survivor is somewhat problematic for the RockHall, which seems to decline in prestige among rock critics and historians each year. Indeed, Baez is a hugely important artist in folk music, not to mention politics and protest. But is she rock 'n' roll? Not according to chart performance, as her only Top 40 hits were soft-rockers at best: "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (the cover of The Band's classic reached No. 3 in 1971) and her original "Diamonds and Rust," which peaked at No. 35 in 1975.
Then again, what exactly rock 'n' roll is has never been adequately defined by the RockHall and only becomes more vague as the genre's recognized founders die off. Adding to the hall's increasing hodgepodge of inductees is a nominating committee that has likewise lost its historical perspective, as older members have been let go in favor of the grunge/hip-hop generation.
Hence, those who still remember the immortal rock 'n' roll contributions of artists like Lesley Gore, Nancy Sinatra, the Shangri-Las, Lou Christie and The Turtles—to name but a very few of '60s legends who remain overlooked—get lonelier by the day.