It’s always been a great irony of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that induction ceremonies might be the least rock ‘n’ roll thing ever. But Public Enemy, Rush, Heart, Donna Summer, Quincy Jones, Lou Adler, Albert King, and Randy Newman took their spots in the canon last night — the actual ceremony happened at L.A.’s Nokia Theater in April, but HBO didn’t air it until a month later — it was clear that many of them must be big fans of irony.
Randy Newman kicked things off with his anthem “I Love L.A.,” which got the whole crowd of Los Angelenos (including Jack Nicholson) earnestly singing the refrain “We love it!,” even though the song mocks their hometown. Later, Dave Grohl noted that Rush were being honored despite the fact that they’ve always been ignored by the mainstream press, especially Rolling Stone, whose editor in chief, Jann Wenner, co-founded the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. The best moment of the night came when Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson managed to give his entire acceptance speech using only the words “blah blah blah.” Speaking in different intonations and using hand gestures, he was able to convey the whole story of the band, right up to the surprising phone call that informed them that they were being inducted (“Blah BLAH blah?”), and the thanks-to-fans-like-YOU! speech that followed. (“Blah blah BLAH!” he said, pointing at the crowd.) He somehow managed to send up every awards-show speech ever — and maybe the whole Rock and Roll Hall of Fame itself — at the same podium where they’re so revered. If you ask me, that’s just as rock ‘n’ roll as any music that earned a golden statue that night.