Two questions jump out with the announcement that Ray Davies, principle songwriter for the Kinks, has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
What took so long? And how did Sting and Glenn Frey get in first?
Critical judgments aside, Davies long ago earned his place. Writer of such classics of the rock canon as “You Really Got Me,” “Lola,” “All Day and All of the Night” and a bounty of lesser-known gems that place him among the great rock writers of his generation, Davies was inducted alongside Donovan (“Hurdy Gurdy Man,” “Sunshine Superman”), Jim Weatherly (“Midnight Train to Georgia”), Mark James (“Suspicious Minds,” “Hooked on a Feeling”) and Graham Gouldman (best known for his work with 10CC) in New York on Thursday.
The event honored the writers with performances by Rosanne Cash, Jon Bon Jovi, Martina McBride, Miguel and others, each working to further the hall’s stated goal to “preserve, honor and celebrate the legacy of the great songwriters whose work has enriched the world’s culture.”
Davies, who made the news earlier in the week when he confirmed that a long simmering feud with his brother Dave has cooled enough that the Kinks might write new music, was unable to attend the celebration due to an illness in his family. In his stead, Bon Jovi performed versions of Davies' classics “Celluloid Heroes,” “Better Things,” “Low Budget” and “All Day and All of the Night.”
Of course, that only scratched the surface. Here is one of Davies' lesser known pieces of perfection: “Oklahoma, U.S.A.,” from the Kinks’ woefully underappreciated country rock album “Muswell Hillbillies.”
Established in 1969, the hall of fame features an impressive membership. Davies, Donovan and company join a roster that includes early American songsmiths Francis Scott Key and Stephen Foster, Tin Pan Alley geniuses Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin and George & Ira Gershwin, a bounty of rock writers including Chuck Berry, James Brown, Carole King, Ellie Greenwich and hundreds of others.
Other writers were honored with special awards at the gala, as well. Philadelphia soul legends Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff received the Johnny Mercer Award; longtime music executive Doug Morris received the Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award; Dan Reynolds (Imagine Dragons) was given the Hal David Starlight Award; Del Bryant earned the Visionary Leadership Award; and the 2014 Towering Song Award was given to Harold Arlen & E.Y. Harburg for their song “Over the Rainbow.”
Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @lileditCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times