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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Goes Political

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio Daniel F.

By Daniel F.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was shown on HBO on April 29. Some of the indictees decided to take the political route, something rock music has done for a long time.

Singer Jackson Browne talked about protest songs and how they should be as prominent today as they were in the 60s during his induction speech for folk singer Joan Baez.

Joan Baez, who has a reputation for being political, didn’t shy from taking shots at President Donald Trump.  The folk singer said,  “Let us together repeal and replace brutality, and make compassion a priority. We the people must speak truth to power, and be ready to make sacrifices.” Also, when Baez sang the song  Swing Low, Sweet Chariot  and sang, Carry me — you, us, even Donald — home. She also sang Woody Guthrie’s Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos) except it was cut from the HBO’s broadcast due to time restrictions.  

Baez has previously worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement and was at a San Francisco rally to save Obamacare in January.

Another political moment came when Pearl Jam’s singer, Eddie Vedder, said, “Climate change is real. It is not fake news.” Junior Brennan G. agrees with him. He said, “It is real. We caused it. We can fix it.”

The final political moment came during the inductee super jam. At the end of the ceremony, many of the inductees and the people who inducted them perform one final song. This year they played Rockin’ in the Free World by Neil Young. Vedder said it was to honor Young, who was supposed to induct Pearl Jam but couldn’t due to illness. The song is also a well known protest song, with the chorus telling everyone to “keep on rockin’ in the free world.” 

Other inductees included Electric Light Orchestra, who did a tribute to the late Chuck Berry, producer Nile Rodgers, late 90s rapper Tupac Shakur, San Francisco rock band Journey, and English progressive rock band Yes.

Video of Joan Baez courtesy of Cal Vid on YouTube.

Video of Rockin’ in the Free World courtesy of Neil Young – Topic on YouTube.

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