Well, it’s all very nice and good that Cleveland’s Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame is celebrating its 25th year in existence. I approve of a place that recognizes the cultural impact and significance of my favorite music, which was of course originally thought of as an utterly disposable teenage fad. I do hope to go there sometime, although for the life of me I cannot think of any reason to go to Ohio again. There was a good Chinese restaurant in Columbus, but that was about it, I think. Anyway, hoo rah rah to the HOF. What hasn’t been all that nice and good for me are the annual induction ceremonies and resulting tribute/jam concerts. Aieee. Enough. After a few of those, you know what’s coming: Paul Shaffer nods and bops and smiles and points to other musicians, Bruce Springsteen comes out, 20 famous guitarists noodle all over each other, vocalists stumble over other people’s lyrics or try to out-sing the vocalist next to them, and the fancy audience usually just sits there except for one drunk guy who gives the bro air fist and remembers his hairline. Magic is not made, despite all the talent onstage; it is usually hammered to death by expectation and ego and excess.

HBO is running a highlights show now from the recent 25th Anniversary concerts at Madison Square Garden. Regular folks could attend these shows, recorded on two consecutive nights, although I think the tickets were pretty pricey. There is a decent sized chunk of fans that will pay it thinking, hey, these people playing are getting pretty damn old now and I can see ‘em all in one batch before they croak! Worth it! Jann Wenner tells me this is a "once-in-a-lifetime event!"

Do you want to know what I think? If you keep reading, I will assume that you do. I think that even if you are legendary and people will love you even if you come out and poop on a bongo, bring your A-game or don’t come. Don’t leave people thinking you are less than you were. If your current A-game is not even close to your prime A-game, stay home and cash your residual checks and be grateful that you were great once. I find that more respectful somehow, to everyone.

I kind of watched the HBO show. Here are my impressions:

Jerry Lee Lewis: Do you think he became “The Killer” because he couldn’t stand to play “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” one more time?

Crosby, Stills, & Nash
: Stills’ voice is struggling, Crosby’s was OK but froggy in spots, and Nash is the kind of guy who will never get fat.

Bonnie Raitt: Honestly, the exact same sound her entire career and a couple of hits awhile ago doesn’t really make her legendary. And to be even more honest, her skunk stripe bothers me.

Jackson Browne
: He finally looks old! Call Dick Clark!

James Taylor: Also will never get fat. Voice has held up.

Paul Simon & Art Garfunkle
: Remember when Paul dressed up like the turkey on SNL that one time?

Stevie Wonder: Really, really, really dated somehow.

Smokey Robinson: Had to push those vocals a bit, but lots of energy.

Bruce Springsteen
: I suspect some face work; he looks very…smooth. Also when he sings his neck cords out like jailcell bars. And that mechanical way he strums his guitar is distracting. He seems like a nice man.

Billy Joel: Has nothing whatsoever to do with “rock n’ roll.”

Annie Lennox: Wore a controversial t-shirt.

U2: Always sounds like U2. Bono sings on-pitch.

Patti Smith: Doesn’t sound on-pitch singing with Bono and probably cuts her own hair. I like her.

Ray Davies: Phoned it in. Would have been brilliant if he had literally phoned in his vocals with Metallica. I have such good ideas.

Metallica: Generic. Not really rock n’ roll either, believe it or not. They sound like a Jeep commercial through a solid-state amp.

Aretha Franklin
: ‘s knees must hurt.

Eric Clapton: Played blues licks.

Jeff Beck: Did not.

: Bono kissed her waist.

Mick Jagger
: Is funny and reliable, in a good way.

Ah, I don’t know. If the people at MSG were entertained, that’s what it’s all about. But for me, I would rather listen to some new music rather than some old music performed not as well as it once was. No one gets a lifetime pass.

You will have to sit through a commercial to see Paul Simon as a turkey now, which is somehow fitting to this entire post.