Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hall Of Famer

Last night, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- along with fellow Class of 2008 inductees John Mellencamp, Leonard Cohen, The Ventures and The Dave Clark Five (and a few others) -- in her very first year of eligibility (25 years after the release of her first record) at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC. Our Lady Madonna was inducted into the Rock Hall by one of her most recent musical collaborators -- Justin Timberlake ... who gave a rambling and oftentimes awkward-sounding speech ... which I transcribed word for word and present to you in its entirety:


Ok, shut up, it's not about me tonight. Madonna ... Madonna will be out of the music business in six months (noise from the audience) ... just let me finish. 'Her voice is like Minnie Mouse on helium.' 'Comparing Marilyn Monroe to Madonna is like comparing Raquel Welch to the back of a bus.' That's what they were saying about Madonna 25 years ago, I don't think any of them around to say it tonight. See a strange thing happens when you are asked to induct Madonna into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. First, of course, you're overwhelmingly honored because there is and will only every be one Madonna. But then, but then, you become aware that every single word you can possibly imagine saying about Madonna suddenly sounds much hotter, much dirtier and a whole hell of lot more fun. 'Induct her? Why, yes, I'd love to.' 'Enter the hall. Every chance I get.' With all do respect to the fine city of Cleveland, even that place sounds slight erotic knowing that Madonna is going to be 'entering the hall' just as soon as I have the pleasure of personally inducting her. And though I'm pretty sure that Little Richard would disagree, the truth is that nobody has ever gotten into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while still looking this damn fine. Madonna, you're taking your rightful place in this hall but I'll just go on record saying you're no old museum piece. But tonight, tonight is not just a chance for me to come to Madonna (I said 'come on to', that's terrible) ... tonight is a moment to pause and consider the singular impact of this woman. Madonna has changed the way our world sounded, she's changed the way our world looked and somehow she still found time to publicly kiss at least someone who I may or may not have kissed myself ... while I was in the audience, yeah, course you know I'm all talking about Sean Penn. They're jokes! They, they're jokes! For longer than I can remember, back before breastfeeding, Madonna has been causing a stir, usually well-timed for the release of her latest album and making our culture a more provocative and interesting place. When she first appeared on the scene a sultry, dance-pop act dressed in lace and fishnet stockings, Madonna captured the attention of women and men with a certain downtown thrift store chic that was all her own ... until millions tried to jump on her bandwagon. Back then, few would have predicted that all these years later, and she politely but firmly forbid me to count, she would remain one of the most popular and crowd-pleasing acts all around the world. Yet, Madonna hasn't become one of music's greatest stories ever told just by shocking us at regular intervals, she's done it by working harder and being smarter than everybody else. As she made MTV the place to be seen, she racked up the greatest track-record in music history -- 47 Top 40 hits. That's almost one for every year that she's been alive, give or take a few ... but ... I told her I was gonna jab her a little bit. Anyways, the point is this is a singing, dancing, writing, promoting, achieving superstar who became the biggest name on the planet the old fashioned way -- she earned it. The success story of Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, the daughter of Madonna Louise and Tony P. Ciccone, from Bay City, Michigan is a one-of-a-kind and truly global. Like most great artists, Madonna didn't have the easiest of childhoods but she found her way to New York City, a place that seemed to suit her incredible style and energy. She studied dance with Alvin Ailey and even toured with a disco act called The Patrick Hernandez Review. Madonna has always proudly let her dance music roots show. Dance music often expresses joy, and the joy of sex but Madonna drew upon its power to spread a message that suggests that she was never really a 'material girl'. Her tracks have always been fresh with an ever-changing sense of style and groove yet taken as a whole, her shapely body of work told a story and offered a transcendent message of hope and empowerment that managed to be spiritual and sensual. Madonna's music dared you, hell it ordered you, to express yourself, to open your heart, to cherish and to justify her love. Whatever pose she was striking, at any given moment, Madonna has remained both a familiar friend and a beautiful stranger. She's consistently evoked the past with an edge that felt shockingly new. She bravely mixed and matched the sacred and the profane. She may have been in some way like a virgin but there was never any doubt this is a woman of experience. 'Sex' is not just the name of some book she wrote and there's never been any question about who's running Madonna's career. She's always been a woman on top and I'm sure fully enjoying that position. And that's true today, whether that's in her position as singer, song writer, dancer, producer, author, director, wife or mother. I co-wrote and co-produced half of the tracks on her new record entitled 'Hard Candy'. And naturally when I tell people that they're always asking me what it's reeeeally like to work with Madonna. Is she the control freak that everyone says she is? And I'm gonna tell ya, hell yeah. As a matter of fact, I wanna tell a little story really quick -- one day, in London, I showed up to the studio and (it's prolly because of the freakin' schedule she had us under) but I was feeling a little ill, I was feeling under the weather and she could tell and she said, 'You're not feeling too well today?' and I said, 'Noooo not too well today.' and she said, 'Well, would you like a B12 shot? We could get a B12 shot.' and I was like, 'Yeah, I'd love a B12 shot.' That's the first thing I thought of. And, uh, and so I'm thinking, right, that we're gonna call it a doctor and he's gonna make a house-call [mumbling] Here's a B12 shot. And, uh, then she proceeds to reach into her designer handbag and, uh, pull a Zip-Lock bag of B12 syringes out. And then she looks at me with that face that she looks at people with and she says to me, 'Drop 'em.' I don't ... I don't know what you say to that so I immediately dropped my pants. This is a true story by the way, I swear I'm not making this up. So, uh, she gives me the B12 shot, in my ass and then she looks at me and she says, 'Nice top shelf.' And that was one of the greatest days of my life. But, I guess in my own cheesy way I got to thinkin' I would tell this story because I figured that's exactly what Madonna is and will continue to be for all of us -- the shot in the ass when we really needed it. Her upcoming single from her new album is called '4 Minutes to Save the World' and, in a sense, that's what Madonna has always done -- save the world, one great four minute song at a time. Ladies and gentlemen, the world has long been full of Madonna wannabes, and I might have even dated a couple, but there is, but there is only one Madonna. So right now, it is one of the true thrills and privileges of my life to stand on this stage and induct Madonna into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Here is a write-up from the New York Times of last night's induction of Madonna into the Rock Hall:


Leave it to Madonna to make the right gesture. For her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she didn't worry about whether her career as a pop hitmaker, image maker, sex symbol and provocateuse qualified her as a important figure in any narrowly defined genre of rock 'n' roll. She just brought on an unquestioned rocker -- Iggy Pop, the blunt, anarchic and durable songwriter and performer who's a fellow Michigan-born musician -- to sing punk-chorded versions of her hits "Burnin' Up" and "Ray of Light." He was shirtless, hyperactive and backed by the Stooges, who along with him have been nominated but snubbed by the Hall of Fame ... Madonna entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its 23rd annual induction ceremony, held Monday night at the Waldorf-Astoria and telecast live on VH1 Classic. She was named to the hall alongside the Indiana rocker John Mellencamp, the Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen, the instrumental band the Ventures, from Tacoma, Wash., and the British Invasion band the Dave Clark Five, whose lead singer, Mike Smith, died on Feb. 28. The Louisiana-born blues harmonica player Little Walter, a major figure in Chicago blues, was inducted as an influence on rock 'n' roll. The songwriters and producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, whose Philadelphia International label was a 1970s soul powerhouse, were named as nonperformers; their award had been renamed the Ahmet Ertegun Award, after the founder of Atlantic Records and one of the founders of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But it was Madonna's night. She was introduced by the multimillion-selling pop singer Justin Timberlake, who collaborated on her coming album, "Hard Candy." He said that while they were working together, he had come to the studio one day feeling ill, and Madonna had suggested a shot of vitamin B12. She didn't call a doctor, he said. She took a Zip-Loc bag of B12 syringes from her designer bag, said, "Drop 'em," gave him the shot, and added, "Nice top shelf." Mr. Timberlake said, "That was one of the greatest days of my life." Madonna, calling herself a "control freak," immediately corrected him. "I said, 'Pull your pants down,'" she asserted, before starting one of the longest speeches given at any Hall of Fame ceremony. Among the people she thanked were naysayers: "The ones that said I was talentless, that I was chubby, that I couldn't sing, that I was a one-hit wonder," she said. "They pushed me to be better, and I am grateful for their resistance." The annual induction ceremony, for musicians whose first commercial releases were at least 25 years ago, took place as the recording business struggles. Strangely, the goodie bag for those who attended the ceremony included a stack of blank recordable compact discs -- which can hold copies of music that has not been paid for. Presenters faced the downturn with jokes. Paying tribute to John Mellencamp, Billy Joel said: "Let's face it. Nobody's selling records anymore. The record industry died before you did. Congratulations, John." Mr. Mellencamp, the heartland rocker, performed his own songs, including "Pink Houses" and "Small Town," and had much of the black-tie crowd on its feet during "Authority Song." He said he was glad that during his career, "people thought the songs was about them. I want to thank those people" ... Leonard Cohen was introduced by Lou Reed, who quoted extensively from Mr. Cohen's lyrics. "Thank you so much for reminding me that I wrote a couple of good lines," Mr. Cohen deadpanned in his sepulchral voice. He called entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame an "unlikely event." A respectful Ben Harper inducted Little Walter, saying, "You can hear the instrument saying to its player in every note, 'Thank you, thank you for all you’ve done for me.'" Then he performed "My Babe" with James Cotton on harmonica. Early-1960s Ventures hits helped define the basic rock-band lineup of two guitars, bass and drums. They performed "Walk Don't Run" with a substitute lead guitarist, since one of the band's founders, Bob Bogle, could not attend. "That was the song that made all of the guitar heroes want pick up the guitar," said Paul Shaffer, the night's music director.

Here is video of most of Madonna's acceptance speech (the clip is 10 mins. long and, yet, Madge still had lots to say and is cut off at the end):


What else can be said ... much congrats goes out to Madonna and all of this year's inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite the fact that there are a few haters out there who are still talking shizz about Madge, she continues to be a force to be reckoned with. I was very impressed that she remembered to thank her ballet teacher, Christopher Flynn, from Detroit who encouraged her to follow her dreams because she was special. See, there are a lot of cool people that come out of Detroit Rock City (I also love that she thanked the Semtex Girls, who hold a very dear place in my heart ... they were the ones who helped me get to meet Madonna back in October of 2005) 25 years into her career, she continues to ignite fans around the world with her music and her artistry. There are a great many of us who have been fans of Madonna since as early as we can remember and I contend that she still has many more fans to come along the way. This most recent accolade is only the latest in a long career of accomplishments ... and she's far from coming to the end of her professional journey. I am very proud of my Michigan "hometown" girl. I can't wait to see and hear what she's got in store for us next. [Source]