Best Debut Album: Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced? Any song on this album could be the best song on this album, and every song is among the best songs ever written. That would be enough, but Hendrix went a couple of steps further. He single-handedly created a new genre - psychedelia - and brought virtuosity to songcraft. As a lagniappe, as the Cajuns say about getting a little extra treat, the interplay between Hendrix and the drummer, Mitch Mitchell, is a mind-meld, the likes of which have never been duplicated in rock.
Best Songwriter: Chuck Berry. Yes, "Johnny B. Goode" is overdone to the point of parody. So is "Duh-duh-duh-duh" by Beethoven. So is "To be or not to be" by Shakespeare. Consider: "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Memphis, Tennessee," "Too Much Monkey Business," "Reelin' and Rockin',?" "Roll Over Beethoven." Dylan is deeper. Costello is artier. Lennon-McCartney are lovelier. Jagger-Richards are bluesier. (All of those are compliments, by the way.) But Chuck Berry is mightier: He established rock-and-roll's chromosomal structure.
Dumbest Song (by Good Musicians): Talk about difficult - a dozen immediately spring to mind, including "My Ding-a-Ling" by the "Best Songwriter" in rock, Chuck Berry. If I had to choose just one, though, it would have to be "Rock the Casbah" by The Clash, a truly inchoate mishmash of "huh?" - and lame music, to boot.
Dumbest Song Lyric (by Good Musicians): This is also a toughie, as there are so very many stupid lyrics in rock. "Little Earlie-Purlie came by in his curlie-wurlie and asked me if I needed a ride"? Bruce, just what were you thinking? Blinded by the light, indeed. My personal favorite, though, is from Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow/Don't be alarmed now/It's just a spring clean for the May queen." Ooh, makes me wonder, too.
Most Overrated Band: Pink Floyd. Hello. Hellooo. Hellooo. Is anybody in there who knows how to rock??? Pretension as an art form.
Most Underrated Band: T-Bone Walker. Okay, A.) he’s not a band, and B.) he may not even be rock-and-roll. But his early 1950s big band/R&B/Chuck Berry licks, before Chuck Berry ever even recorded, was carrying the baby that would be adopted and raised by others.
PHEEEW. YAAAAAY. [OCEANIC SOUND OF ENORMOUS APPLAUSE.]
Thank you. Thank you very much.
Man, I’ll tell ya, it’s great to be back in Chicago. And Tokyo. And Santiago. Or wherever you are right now.
You’ve been a wonderful audience.
Before I go, let me add that you should send your choices for the categories above to me directly, Jim Shahin, at email@example.com. Include your first and last name, the city where you live, a phone number, and your e-mail address. Anything you send might be used (small print: and made fun of) in a future column. Thanks, again.
AND GOOD NIGHT!