Songwriters Hall Of Fame Honors Elvis Costello, Tom Petty And Others

elviscostelloSo I read that the Songwriters Hall Of Fame has honored Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, Marvin Gaye, Chip Taylor, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards as the 2016 inductees into the Hall.

My first thought was – great choices. Elvis Costello is one of the great songwriters of our time. The “second” Elvis has a pure, natural gift for melody, and despite a penchant for wordiness, he has imbued his lyrics with power, wit and at times profound meaning.

Tom Petty I would put on a par with Springsteen. He doesn’t break molds or conventions in his writing, yet his songs stand out using traditional templates, a great achievement in itself. Authenticity and directness are his calling cards. Marvin Gaye distanced himself from most of his Motown labelmates because of his songwriting, and “What’s Going On” and “Mercy Mercy Me” revolutionized soul music with its social and political commentary.

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Chip Taylor, actor Jon Voight’s brother, came to prominence in the 1960s writing songs that others made famous, including “Wild Thing” by the Troggs, “Angel of the Morning” by Merrilee Rush and Juice Newton, “I Can’t Let Go” by the Hollies, and “Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)” by Janis Joplin. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards founded the seminal disco act Chic, and also wrote “Upside Down” for Diana Ross and “We Are Family” for Sister Sledge, both great songs. Rodgers recently co-wrote “Get Lucky” for Daft Punk.

This was all good, but then came my second thought – what the hell is the Songwriters Hall Of Fame? I had to look it up. Turns out it was founded in 1969 by Tin Pan Alley songwriter Johnny Mercer in order to honor the great songwriters of the first half of the 20th century.

By the end of the Seventies, the organization realized it needed to start recognizing songwriters from the Rock and Contemporary era too, to the point where today there just about as many post-Rock writers as there are pre-Rock writers.

But it’s a pretty uneven list. Lou Gramm and Richie Sambora are on it, but no Neil Young or Peter Townshend. Oh well, I guess there’s always next year.

Photo credit: By Victor Diaz Lamich [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.0 ca (], via Wikimedia Commons

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