Maybe This Is Why I Didn’t Get into Harvard or Stanford

In yesterday’s post I whined about the fact that nearly 40 years ago I got rejected when applying to the MBA programs at Harvard and Stanford (and I even shared the rejection letters to prove it).

I’m sure there were multiple reasons why the admissions committees made such decisions, but perhaps a key one was that they realized that my grasp of the English language was just as bad then as it apparently is now.

I just read a fascinating article (well, at least the parts of the article I could understand were fascinating) by Bill Wyman, All 214 Artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ranked From Best to Worst. While my first thought was to see if I agreed with the rankings, my major takeaway was that I realized that I do not have the necessary vocabulary to be a music critic.

Here are some samples from the article, first showing the artist and where he, she, or they ranked, according to Wyman, followed by a word or phrase I did not understand:

Lou Reed (81): But at his best, he expanded the idea and potential of rock with everything from his waspish personality to his perversion-laden demimonde to his best songs, which took the music to places it had never been before.

I had no idea what demimonde meant, so I looked it up: Demimonde refers to a group of people who live hedonistic lifestyles, usually in a flagrant and conspicuous manner.

I still have no idea exactly what that sentence is saying.


Queen (213)This preposterous aggregation looked and sounded awful from the beginning, their music a pastiche of pastiches of things no one in the band were inclined to understand, all of it culminating in “We Will Rock You.”

Once again, it was time for Wikipedia: A pastiche is a work of visual art, literature, theatre, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists. Unlike parody, pastiche celebrates, rather than mocks, the work it imitates.

Whatever. I liked Queen. I certainly would not have ranked them one spot from being the worst inductee.


Bob Dylan (3)He remains the nonpareil avatar of pure artistry with all its peevish, unadulterated glory — and missteps, stumbles, and exasperations.

I assumed by the fact that he was ranked third, that Wyman liked him, but I wasn’t quite sure what he was trying to say, so I had to look up a couple of words:

nonpareil: having no match or equal; unrivaled.
peevish: easily irritated, especially by unimportant things.

OK, got it, I think…


Little Richard (12)But at his best, he was personification of priapism and kink on a scale that made all who came after, even Prince, mere pretenders.

I’m embarrassed to say I did not know what priapism meant; I looked it up, and now I’m too embarrassed to include its definition.

Not really sure what Wyman is trying to say here with the use of such a word…


David Bowie (21): Rock’s high priest of archness and the polymophously perverse, our first great art-rock star, creating pop (“Changes”) and rock (“Ziggy Stardust”) ineffability from a highly detached but ever-curious perch.

Assuming that it should be Polymorphously perverse, this refers to a psychoanalytic concept proposing the ability to gain sexual gratification outside socially normative sexual behaviors. Sigmund Freud used this term to describe the sexual disposition from infancy to about age five.

I guess that’s one way to describe Bowie.


Bill Withers (194): Answerable to nobody, as rectitudinous* an artist as soft rock has produced. 

*piously self-righteous.

I guess given how low Withers is ranked, being piously self-righteous must be bad.


I’m sure I could go on and on, these were just a few that caught my eye as I was scrolling through the list.

Beyond my vocabulary challenges, there were several interesting tidbits in the article. It’s also the kind of article that leaves itself open to a lot of debate about where such an artist should appear, if at all.

But I think I’ll save the tidbits and my interpretation of the rankings for a later post.

You know what they say, always leave your audience wanting more, at least the audience that I haven’t put to sleep, yet…

So hats off to the admissions committees at Harvard and Stanford; you somehow knew that I would never be capable of being a music critic.

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