British music magazine NME recently published a feature asking more than two dozen performers what are the songs they'd wish they had written. The responses gathered from artists young and old, across genres, included nods to the likes of Bob Dylan ("It's Alright Ma(I'm Only Bleeding)"), David Bowie ("Ziggy Stardust" and "Life on Mars?"), James Brown ("Hot Pants" and "Cold Sweat"), Abba ("The Winner Takes It All"), the Beach Boys ("God Only Knows"), Ike and Tina Turner ("Nutbush City Limits") and more. (pictured, clockwise from left: Jimi Hendrix's 1967 Gibson Flying V dubbed "Love Drops;" Slash performs live at the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony; dresses worn by the Supremes in 1969.)
"Cole Porter and Irving Berlin are just the best," Ray Davies of Hall of Fame Inductees the Kinks told NME. "Songs by Chuck Berry, Otis Redding and Hank Williams I love, too. Or anything Holland-Dozier-Holland did for the Supremes." All those artists – as well as the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland – are Hall of Fame Inductees and feature prominently in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Cities and Sounds and Legends exhibits.
2012 Hall of Fame Inductee Slash of Guns N' Roses, expressed his desire to have written "Machine Gun," the psychedelic classic by Jimi Hendrix, most famously captured in all its 12-minute glory on the 1970 live album Band of Gypsys. "The psychedelic era of guitar playing still fascinates me, and Jimi was obviously front and centre of that," Slash said. "He seemed to be living at the furthest limits of his mind, and I think for an artist that’s the holy grail. This song shows that completely." The evolution of Hendrix's artistry, from his earliest childhood drawings to his famous psychedelia-inspired hand-painted Gibson Flying V guitar help tell the story of Jimi Hendrix in the Rock Hall's Hendrix exhibit, including an interview with Al Hendrix.
Annie Clark AKA St Vincent performed Nirvana's "Lithium" (from the group's 1991 breakthrough recording Nevermind) at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Brooklyn, but when asked by NME which songwriting credits she wished were hers, she looked to 1972 and a funk-laden track from Stevie Wonder's Talking Book. "The groove is impeccable," she told the music magazine. "It wouldn’t fit well into my repertoire though – it would be horrible! I wouldn’t be able to lock the gospel choirs in the song. I could hit the notes, I could practice and do the licks, but it would be such a fucking bad look. It would be corny if I covered it, but it’s such a good song."
St. Vincent talks about playing Nirvana songs at the 2014 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: