Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bernie Taupin Writes Complaint Letter to Songwriters Hall of Fame

Once again I’m forced to express my utter frustration with The Songwriters Hall of Fame nominating committee for failing to lionize and reward the work of Willie Dixon, arguably the greatest and single most successful blues composer of the 20th century. His inclusion in the Songwriters Hall of Fame is embarrassingly overdue.

To continually ignore this titan of the blues while consistently honoring songwriters whose work merely constitutes a handful of hits at most (I’ll refrain from naming names) is not only an appalling oversight, but a slap in the face to a genre that his songs have dominated for decades.

Without Willie Dixon, Chicago blues and Chess Records in particular would be bereft of much of its catalogue while every fledgling English blues band starting out would have be down to half a set list, think The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Cream and Led Zeppelin.

Ever since my teens, I have been in awe of Willie Dixon’s extraordinary talent as a musician, arranger, producer and above all other things a songwriter of unique and raw originality. In my estimation, he is an American icon in the tradition of Woody Guthrie, Led Belly and Duke Ellington deserving of the same accolades and rightful place in any organization that salutes compositional greatness (he was inducted posthumously into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.)

The Songwriters Hall of Fame informed me that they stopped inducting deceased songwriters because it became “physically impossible.” How? Aside from the fact that Willie Dixon should have been inducted before he was deceased, how on earth does The Songwriters Hall of Fame rationalize the exclusion of someone who embodies the very meaning of the words above the door? If as they say they can not arbitrarily induct someone, that it’s up to the voting membership, then I ask who are these people and have they no sense of history?

In today’s world the Songwriters Hall of Fame has become not so much about who deserves to be elected but all about whom they can build a flashy spectacle around. Recognition has become secondary to mediocrity fueled by getting marquee names to perform songs by someone who had some hits in the 70’s or 80’s.

Go online (see below) and see for yourself the incredible legacy of Willie Dixon. If you agree with me and see his exclusion from The Songwriters Hall of Fame as a travesty please let them know.

- Bernie Taupin

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