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Music history has been made with two uniquely powerful night of performances at Madison Square Garden i celbration of the rock & Roll Hall of Fame---and the educational foundation it supports.

NEW YORK (with Gary Baumgarten and Abbie Wasserman) – Music history has been made with two uniquely powerful nights of performances at Madison Square Garden in celebration of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame---and the educational foundation it supports.

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band; U2; Simon & Garfunkel; Metallica; Aretha Franklin; Annie Lennox; Stevie Wonder; Crosby, Stills & Nash along with Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and James Taylor; Dion; Patti Smith; Smokey Robinson; the Jeff Beck Band; a surprise appearance by Mick Jagger; intros (both nights) by Tom Hanks (who said he did it "just to get the access pass") and much much more turned midtown into the center of the musical universe once again.

With two (almost) completely different concerts (Jerry Lee Lewis played both nights) the Hall of Fame celebrated its 25th Anniversary and raised more than $4 million for a permanent endowment for the Cleveland-based museum and the educational work in which it specializes. An HBO special from the show will debut at the end of the long Thanksgiving weekend, Sunday, November 29.

Both concerts opened with the 74-year-old Lewis who, in a signature move, kicked over his piano bench the first night, then did it again on Friday.

Since his "Great Balls of Fire" was instrumental in kicking off the musical revolution that became Rock & Roll, it was a fitting pair of gestures.

Crosby, Stills & Nash's impeccable set opened with their loving ode to the festival at Woodstock, this year celebrating its 40th anniversary. As Graham Nash reminded the audience, 30 years and one month ago, CSN was here in the Garden for the legendary "No Nukes" Concerts, whose platinum triple album and feature film raised money and awareness for Musicians United for Safe Energy.

The trio was joined on "Love Has No Pride," "The Pretender," "Teach Your Children" and more by MUSE veterans James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt, whom David Crosby described as "my favorite singer in the world."

The "CSN & Friends" show took the form of a "swing (and hug) your partner" fest in which a close-knit extended family of world-class musicians moved from their own songs to hits shared by the group in a graceful, loving minuet. It set the tone for all that followed.

Paul Simon (also a MUSE vet) opened with "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes," "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard," and "You Can Call Me Al." He was joined by Dion on "The Wanderer," Crosby and Nash on "Here Comes the Sun," and Little Anthony and the Imperials on "Two Kinds of People." Art Garfunkel brought "The Sounds of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson," "Not Fade Away" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which he indeed conquered the high notes.

Stevie Wonder then delivered Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," "Uptight," "I Was Made to Love Her" and more. He was joined in succession by Smokey Robinson for "Track of My Tears," by John Legend for "Mercy, Mercy Me," by B.B. King for his signature "The Thrill is Gone," by Sam Moore for "Hold On, I'm Coming," by Sting for "Higher Ground" and "Roxanne," and by Jeff Beck for "Superstition," among others.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band then anchored the stage for the rest of the night. Tom Morello joined in for "the Ghost of Tom Joad," John Fogerty for "Fortunate Son" and "Proud Mary," Darlene Love for "A Fine, Fine Boy" and Da Do Ron Ron" and Billy Joel for "You May Be Right," "Only the Good Die Young," and "New York State of Mind." For a Star Spangled Finale reminiscent of the one with which they closed two MUSE nights in 1979, Fogerty, Moore, Browne, Love, Peter Wolfe and others joined Bruce and the E-Streeters in an unforgettable "Higher and Higher."

After Hanks again hailed Rock & Roll, and Jerry Lee Lewis again kicked over his seat, Night Two opened with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin's "Baby I Love You" and "Don't Play that Song," in honor of the man who first signed her, the recently departed Ahmet Ertegun. Annie Lennox joined her for "Chain of Fools." Then came Lenny Kravitz for "Think." With "Respect" Aretha nailed things down, backed as she was by a 20-piece band that included her son Teddy on guitar.

Jeff Beck returned with a jazz/blues quartet in a set highlighted by "Drown in My Own Tears." Sting joined in for "People Get Ready," bluesman Buddy Guy for "Let Me Love You," followed by ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons for "Rough Boy" and Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady."

After an instrumental version of "Day in the Life," Beck gave way to Metallica's high-amp renditions of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "One." Lou Reed contributed "Sweet Jane" and then gave way to Ozzy Osbourne's "Paranoid" and "Iron." The Kinks' Ray Davies set the stage for U2 with the classics "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night."

The rest of the show belonged to Bono and his bandmates and friends. Opening with "Vertigo," the quartet sailed through "Magnificent" and "No Line on the Horizon."

Springsteen and Patti Smith came out for a group cover of her "Because of the Night"---twice, apparently for the benefit of HBO, which may have needed the second take to cover a glitch the first time around. It's a good bet you'll see that one on the HBO Special at the end of the month.

Also a good bet is "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," along with the Black Eyed Peas' guest version of "Where is the Love."

To top the two nights, Mick Jagger brought his aerobic instructor's physique center stage with Fergie to do "Gimme Shelter" and "Stuck in a Moment."

U2 closed down more than ten hours of the two-night extravaganza with "Beautiful Day."

But not before Bono gave a monumental nod to "the saints, the heretics, the poets and punks that now make up our Hall of Fame." Rock, Springsteen added, is a form of liberation that demands everyone "have fun with it."

The fun was more than evident through both big nights, from Hanks's loosey-goosey introductions and Jerry Lee's pyrotechnics to a beautifully choreographed but gritty and completely professional 10-hour marathon from those who have created a culture that simply did not exist a half-century ago, and does not seem to be going away.

That a uniquely crafted museum stands to commemorate it in the nation's heartland seems every bit as fitting as two powerful nights in the nation's media center, a landmark event that has made possible the institution' first permanent endowment (for a fuller explanation, please see the interview that follows tomorrow with the Foundation's Joel Peresman).

Close your eyes, for example, and the beautifully bedecked Aretha could have been singing in Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church, founded by her father, where she first began to sing in the 1950s. The music industry has changed over the decades, she told us after her Friday performance, but it must do that to stay strong. "R&B, hip hop are alive and well," she says. "Some of the lyrics I like," she said, "some not so well." But the karma of the Rock Hall allows her to "see older members…that have come a long way" along with "the new people."

Among them might be Jeff Beck, who "thanked" Eric Clapton for being grounded by the gall stone operation that turned Beck from a back-up to a headliner. And Ozzy Osbourne, who challenged us to name another profession in which a performer knows that "when he's fucked up it's gonna be a good show."

A more subdued Steven Van Zandt paid homage to "the British invasion" which got the industry "where we are today." It was "fun to do a review" of multiple songs with multiple artists, as the E-Streeters did with Springsteen Thursday night. "It's like an old school rock and roll show. That's the way it used to be."

After nominating Darlene Love for membership in the Hall, Van Zandt lamented that if the Rolling Stones were beginning now, his radio show, the "Underground Garage," would be the only one to play them. "There is no format for new rock and roll," Van Zandt said. "It's almost impossible these days" for new groups to make a dent.

"When our generation goes," he added, "it's going to be weird."

John Legend might agree. "I am the luckiest kid in the world," he told us. "I haven't paid my dues, and I am humbled and honored to be with Stevie Wonder" and "all these amazing artists that have been making music for a long time."

"A new generation will be changing the world in different ways," added Bonnie Raitt. "In the change we feel brewing, I think the Internet and the advent of satellite radio and independent newspapers…will help get the truth out and keep the debate going," she told us. "I think music and rock & roll will continue to shepherd that along."

"Rebellion is a life-long thing," said Jackson Browne. "Rock and roll has always been the language of self-empowerment, freedom and community, and always will be."

--
Harvey Wasserman is author of SOLARTOPIA! and HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. He helped co-found Musicians United for Safe Energy, and spoke (for Greenpeace USA) at Woodstock II in 1994. Gary Baumgarten is the Paltalk News Network's director of news and programming and host of the network's News Talk Online; for CNN Radio he covered the 9/11 attacks in New York and Hurricane Katrina. Abbie Wasserman is a senior at Stern College in New York City, majoring in English literature.

Originally posted to harveywasserman on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 10:13 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  NIce diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, rainmanjr, GenXangster

    Thanks for the report.

    Somewhere a senator sits behind a big wooden desk...he took his money just like all the rest- Neil Young

    by ctami on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 11:04:06 PM PST

  •  Rock and roll was great (3+ / 0-)

    untill the bean counters ruined it.  Go Little Steven.

    •  Many feel (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      metal prophet

      that the poobahs that created the Rock Hall were among the ruiners.

      Stop Rob "The Job Outsourcer" Portman. Jennifer Brunner for Senate http://www.jenniferbrunner.com/

      by anastasia p on Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 03:30:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As Metallica has so rightly pointed out... (0+ / 0-)

        ....a lot of great bands are being kept out of the Hall, such as Kiss, Motorhead, Rush, and Slayer.

        •  Kiss and Motorhead, maybe (0+ / 0-)

          Rusk, definitely. Slayer? I don't think so.

          Dyslexic devil worshipers pray to Santa.

          by zaynabou on Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 06:53:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  They're quite an essential band.... (0+ / 0-)

            ....to thrash metal. Far more than pure noise, they helped define a genre. Also, they're probably one of the most extreme bands to ever have a decent commercial impact (along with Cannibal Corpse and Lamb of God). They also had a stretch of four straight brilliant albums, which is more than can be said for a lot of bands. Hell Awaits took metal to a new level of intensity and speed, Reign in Blood perfected it, South of Heaven showed they could mix up tempos and even play slow and still be intense, and Seasons in the Abyss made their music accessible without making it commercial or slick.

  •  I know it's only rocknroll (4+ / 0-)

    but I like it

    "99% of the battles and skirmishes that we fought in Afghanistan were won by our side." ~ Marshall Akhromeyev

    by ActivistGuy on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 11:11:40 PM PST

  •  I live in the city where the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    metal prophet, rainmanjr, dolfin66

    Rock Hall is actually located. Strangely, (haha) the huge hall of fame induction concerts are never here. Hmmmm. Cleveland sucks. LOL! I guess nobody wants to come here. Thanks for the report, though. I look forward to seeing it on HBO.

    Coincidentally, I was watching a comedy earlier called "The Rocker" that was supposedly set in Cleveland. They kept showing the Rock Hall as if it meant anything to Cleveland other than just another history museum with an expensive gift shop to visit.

    •  Me too and ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greenchiledem, GenXangster

      this entire event is pretty much, like their failure to have inductions here anymore than once in a blue moon, is pretty much the back of their hand. Unfortunately, there has been an ongoing battle for control between the New York and Clevelnd foundations, which are separate — something no other hall of fame has to endure. It's not Cleveland  that sucks; the events they've done here have been successful. The problem is primarily New York's. BTY I home you come to the Janis Joplin concert that caps the annual American Music Masters series starting next week. The honoree this year is Janis Joplin. She's not a big favourite of mine, but the show is sure to be great.

      Stop Rob "The Job Outsourcer" Portman. Jennifer Brunner for Senate http://www.jenniferbrunner.com/

      by anastasia p on Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 03:30:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I grew up there. Elivs's concert... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GenXangster

      that launched his career was at the LaSalle theater on St. Clair and 105th.  Is it still there?  It was just a few blocks from my doctor's office.  I remember it well.  I also remember trying to go ice skating after Alan Freed's original concert at the old Cleveland arena.  It was a shambles from the night before.  I was only 10 and didn't know what had transpired.  I learned fast, though, and would listen to the Moondog show at night in my room with the radio under my pillow so the folks wouldn't hear it.  You have no idea what we went through to get our music out there....

      "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

      by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 05:14:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  105th and St.Clair? I don't think its there (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dolfin66

        anymore. I used to live a block from that corner on Parkwood briefly. They've got The Q arena and the Wolstein Center (formerly the CSU Convention Center) to throw concerts now. At least our basketball team doesn't have to go all the way to Richfield to play anymore. That was embarrassing. Cleveland has improved its venues but at the same time, lost many of them that made it Rock and Roll town in the first place. I'm too young to have known that Cleveland. I only know the poverty that piled up after the steel plants began to close. We came here in 1979 when I was 6.

        •  Rent the movie... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GenXangster

          "The Light of Day."  It stars Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett.  That's a little late for my earliest memories, but it showed how our old town can still rock in spite of a lack of good material.

          During the Motown era I DJ'd on a Vet. Admin. radio station, managed a mixed race group (OMG!) and finally left after Guido the pimp shot at me downtown.  There used to be a great nightclub where all the R&B acts visited:  Leo's Casino down around 20th and Euclid.  I got to see them all.  What a blast.

          Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo...all decaying cities.  The people of Ohio just kept letting their elected officials allow the corporate weenies to move the jobs overseas and cast the workers to the gutter.  It makes me sick.  I wonder if your area will ever recover.  Cleveland needs a sports champion in the worst way...

          "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

          by dolfin66 on Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 11:59:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think I saw that movie a long time ago. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dolfin66

            Its actually really early in my memories so I have forgotten much of it and probably didn't get it when I saw it the first time. Its probably worth watching again. I didn't even remember it was about Cleveland.

            Until the industry jobs and factories come back here, this town will kill anything that tries to happen. There's nothing to sustain an aspiring musician here, not even hopes of falling back on a steel job if the music doesn't work out. Most of the people with any talent get the hell out of here never to return.

            Steel towns have metal and rock and roll in the air. The hard sounds of machines, the clunk and rattle of hard rock from groups like Black Sabbath and Nine Inch Nails depend on the metal to make the metal. Without steel, Cleveland can't really be the metal town everyone likes to romanticize about.

            The R and B groups like the O'Jays and LeVert and a few other acts like Bone Thugs and Harmony sometimes make their way onto the national music scene but to a much less mainstream audience.

            •  It's a pity. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              GenXangster

              Joe Walsh of the James Gang and Eagles fame is from C-town.  There were many excellent musicians that I hung with in the 1960s.  

              I also worked for TRW in Euclid as did my dad for many years.  The manufacturing jobs really came before big steel in that Cleveland basically supported Detroit's auto industry.  

              I'll be you can find really good bargains on homes in good parts of the city.  I wish you the best at whatever you do.  I currently live near Austin, TX, the self-proclaimed live music capitol of America.  And we do see every great piece of music come through here.  It's pretty cool.  The bad news with success is that everybody wants to live here and it's getting CROWDED.

              "Have a beginner's mind at all times, for a beginner knows nothing and learns all while a sophisticate knows all and learns nothing." - Suzuki

              by dolfin66 on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 05:36:38 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Rock & Roll, music that changed the world! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenchiledem, dolfin66

    I used to come home from school and my Mom would have on American Bandstand, Live from Philadelphia with Dick Clark.

    It was fantastic, wonderful, eye opening, mind expanding.

  •  yeah yeah yeah (0+ / 0-)

    who knows where we'd all be without rock & roll....there's something indefinably powerful about music & it's impossible to overstate how important this has been for all of us.  

    it's amazing to think now that jimi hendrix's version of the star spangled banner is the one that's most listened-to of all.  of course, it's the best, and the most accurate reflection of the origins & meaning of the song.

    r&r of course has been commercialized, as all great things eventually are to a certain extent.  but the music still has the power to move & change the world.  now, thankfully, it's the internet that carries it the best & most powerfully.

    i do hope the rock hall goes totally green....that'd be a great statement.  there's all the power they'd ever need to come from the lake.  

    glad for these nice posts....thanks!   no nukes/4 solartopia....

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