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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Pride (In the Name of Love)"

Wednesday, September 12: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
"Pride (In the Name of Love)" by U2 is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

For its fifth album, 1984's The Unforgettable Fire, U2 switched producers, turning from the crisp style of Steve Lillywhite to the moodier ambiance of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" was the record's most galvanizing performance, with the band wailing and Bono singing with fiery resolve. The Edge's shimmering guitar chords precede a frenetic rhythm figure; later he adds a trebly modal guitar run. But it's Larry Mullen's explosive drumming, particularly the way he drives the band into the chorus that gives the song its power.  "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" is a tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King, though it celebrates all who expound the transcendent power of non-violence. The song marked the moment U2 stepped out of Ireland to address the world at large. The band's next album, The Joshua Tree, would put the world at its feet. U2 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 by Bruce Springsteen (watch Springsteen's induction speech here). Click here to watch as Bono, bassist Adam Clayton, guitarist the Edge and drummer Larry Mullen each give acceptance speeches.

WATCH: U2 performs "Pride ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Suzanne"

Thursday, September 20: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

When he set his 1966 poem "Suzanne Takes You Down" to music for his 1967 debut album, The Songs of Leonard Cohen, the Canadian author-musician found a linchpin between the worlds of pop music and literature and empowered the emerging singer-songwriter sub-genre in the process. First recorded and popularized by urban folk performer Judy Collins, "Suzanne" drew melodically from cabaret and European art song, while its lyrics – inspired by a real woman (Suzanne Vidal), a real city (Montreal) and an imaginary love affair (Cohen's visionary genius) – transformed the everyday details of life into a hallucinatory religious experience. A gently arpeggiated guitar figure rolls like the cosmos around the singer as he murmurs a litany of observations – some crazy, some profound, all of them Suzanne. A contemplation of love and consciousness awash in an acoustic dreamscape, "Suzanne" stood apart from both the psychedelic hard rock and the protest songs of the late Sixties and endures, in hundreds of cover versions, as one of the most compelling songs Cohen has ever written. Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. Click here to watch Lou Reed induct Leonard Cohen, Cohen's singularly poetic Hall of ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Imagine"

Tuesday, October 9: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
John Lennon's "Imagine" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

"Imagine" became one of the enduring anthems of John Lennon's post-Beatles work. In an interview days before his death, he made a case for the brotherhood of man and woman: "That should be credited as a Lennon/Ono song. A lot of it – the lyric and the concept –came from Yoko, but in those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution, but it was right out of Grapefruit, her book; there's a whole pile of pieces about imagine this and imagine that, and I have given her credit now long overdue." Ono downplayed her involvement, claiming the period was ripe for mutual inspiration. Lennon responded, "Yeah, but if it had been Bowie, I would have put 'Lennon/Bowie' if it had been a male, you know... but when we did it, I just put 'Lennon' because, you know, she's just the wife and, you know, you don't put her name on, right?" Co-produced by Lennon, Ono and Phil Spector, "Imagine" was recorded in July 1971 at John's home studio in Tittenhurst Park. It reached Number Three on Billboard's Hot ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Enter Sandman"

Wednesday, October 31: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Metallica's "Enter Sandman" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Undisputed kings of thrash, 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Metallica streamlined heavy metal. They unplugged the power, doubled the speed and wrapped themselves in a bleak worldview, poles apart from the party-rockers they helped sweep aside. Combining punk energy with progressive rock's intricacy, Metallica gained notice via metal's tape-trading underground in the early Eighties. It took nearly a decade for them to conquer the pop charts without compromising their initial sound with a self-titled album featuring this hit. "Enter Sandman" is a typically nightmarish tale from singer James Hetfield. It's awash in images of doom, darkness and death worthy of the Brothers Grimm, and replete with Lars Ulrich's drum heroics. "Enter Sandman" prompted restitution on the part of NARAS, who awarded Metallica a Grammy for best metal performance after ignoring them previously in favor of, er, Jethro Tull. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, is home to a featured Metallica exhibit, including the "Scales of Justice" stage prop from 1988 and electric guitars belonging to James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett.

Metallica performs "Enter Sandman" live at the 2009 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cleveland:


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Heart of Gold"

Monday, November 12: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Born on November 12, 1945, Neil Young is one of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters and performers. In a career that extends back to his mid-Sixties roots as a coffeehouse folkie in his native Canada, this principled and unpredictable maverick has pursued an often winding course across the rock and roll landscape. He’s been a cult hero, a chart-topping rock star, and all things in-between, remaining true to his restless muse all the while.

Neil Young was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: first as a solo artist in 1995, and again as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1997. After being inducted by Eddie Vedder at the 1995 Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, Young performed blistering versions of "Act of Love" and "F*!#in Up." The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's exhibits in Cleveland, Ohio, are home to a number of artifacts from Young's lengthy career, including the earliest known manuscript of his classic tune "Heart of Gold," with lyrics he wrote between December 1970 and January 1971. (pictured below)

Neil Young exhibit at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and MuseumIn the liner notes of his career retrospective Decade, Young said of "Heart of Gold": "This song ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "That's All Right"

Monday, January 7: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Elvis Presley's That's All Right is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 would have been Elvis Presley's 78th birthday. Presley was among the first ever inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, an honor befitting his standing as the undisputed King of Rock and Roll. Presely rose from humble beginnings to launch a musical revolution, helping guide the trajectory of the rock and roll genre for deacades. But is "That's All Right" where the legend of Elvis began? What's certain is that "That's All Right" was Elvis Presley's first commercially released recording. He had previously made two private recordings, whose four songs give absolutely no hint of what was to come. Neither did two additional songs Presley tried before "That's All Right" during a faithful July 5, 1954, recording session. That Presley was recording at all is a tribute to Sam Phillips. Phillips' Memphis Recording Service was where Presley had cut his private acetate records and where he would sometimes hang out, trying to find an opening in the music business. Phillips contacted Presley after receiving a song demo he thought might suit the shy teenager. It didn't, but Phillips persevered. He called for the July 5 ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "The Tracks of My Tears"

Tuesday, February 19: 2 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
1987 Hall of Fame Inductee Smokey Robinson

Born on February 19, 1940,  Smokey Robinson is among the most enduring songwriters of the 1960s. He also produced great records, notably by his own group, 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees the Miracles, and by the Temptations, Mary Wells and Marvin Gaye. Finally, Robinson was a great performer, the longest-lasting aspect of his career. But performing was Robinson's least predictable talent. He couldn't really be called a soul singer. Jackie Wilson influenced every first-generation male Motown singer, but even at the Miracles' most raucous, Robinson was no belter like Wilson. His singing bore traces of doo-wop and 1950s R&B, but no gospel. He was the most controlled of the great soulsters, at his best as an unruffled ballad singer – Motown's answer to Bing Crosby, or at least Billy Eckstine. "The Tracks Of My Tears" may be Robinson's greatest record. Without disparaging his beautifully disciplined voice, its power comes from elements in the arrangement:  huge drums, a lovely guitar line and sharp horns. Then there are the lyrics, with their irresistible rhymes. "My smile is my makeup I wear since my breakup with you" is tremendous not because it's profound, but because it says ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Work With Me Annie"

Monday, November 18: 4:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Hank Ballard and the Midnighters

Born on November 18, 1927 (some sources note 1936), Hank Ballard wasn't the first to write smutty songs, but he was one of the more determinedly single-minded to exploit what he called the "raunch groove." His "Get It" was about, well, getting it. The title was startling coming after "The Shrine of St. Cecillia," the previous release by the Royals (as Ballard and the Midnighters were known prior to being labelmates with a "5" Royales). Its success, however, pointed the way. Ballard hit his stride with "Work With Me Annie," which is not about working. Reportedly toned down from its first draft, "Annie" still didn't leave much to the imagination: “Annie, please don’t cheat/ Give me all my meat / Oooo-weee / So good to me /Work with me, Annie / Let’s get it while the getting is good.” Needless to say, it went to the top of the R&B record charts in early 1954 despite being banned by the FCC. In a 1987 interview, Ballard recalled: "But [controversy] made the record hot. All that carryin’ on. 'What is this record about?' 'You can’t hear it on the radio – banned!' I tell you, in the Boston area ...


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