Neil Young and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

DEAN: It’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
RORY: And doesn’t Neil Young look cool? … If you’ll notice, he’s wearing a tux.
DEAN: Neil Young looks cool because he’s Neil Young, not because he’s wearing a tux.

Neil Young (born 1945) is a Canadian-American singer-songwriter, musician, and activist. His career started in the 1960s, and includes membership of critically-acclaimed rock band Buffalo Springfield, folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and solo work backed by his band Crazy Horse. His distorted electric guitar playing has earned him the nickname “Grandfather of Grunge”. He has won several Grammy and Juno Awards, and been named one of the great musical artists in history, defined by his guitar work, deeply personal lyrics, and signature high tenor vocals.

Neil Young has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – in 1995 as a solo artist, and in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield. He has served to induct others into the Hall of Fame six times: The Everly Brothers (1986), Woody Guthrie (1988), Jimi Hendrix (1992), Paul McCartney (1999), The Pretenders (2005), and Tom Waits (2011).

However, Neil Young doesn’t seem to have worn a tuxedo for any of his appearances at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, preferring a more casual (and occasionally more cowboy) look. When he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1982, he did dress in evening wear: not a tuxedo, but tailcoat, ruffled shirt, waistcoat and bow-tie [pictured].

It seems awfully unlikely, but just possibly they are watching an old video of this somehow (or it appears in a documentary or clip show???), and Dean mistakes it for the Rock and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. It feels as if Rory and Lane might have put it on expressly to persuade Dean that men can still look cool in formal wear.

Dean as Rory’s Escort for the Debutante Ball

We never see Rory ask Dean to be her escort for the ball, but we can safely assume he agreed with the greatest reluctance, because the first time we see him in this episode, he seems bewildered, dismayed and rather sulky as he discovers just what escorting Rory to her debut entails.

In real life, it is not recommended debutantes ask their boyfriends to be their escorts. Not only would a break-up put everything in jeopardy, but relationship dramas can create an unwelcome distraction. Some debutante committees even ban them outright, and it’s common for the committee to pair girls up with a suitable escort of their choosing – usually a boy or young man who has experience of cotillions and debutante balls. The DAR would have probably chosen someone rather like Tristan to be Rory’s escort (which could have been an interesting take on the episode).

As Rory is a very late entry, perhaps she has organised her own escort, along with her own dancing lessons and so on.

Little Debbie

LORELAI: Hey Little Debbie, your dad is definitely gonna be there.

Debutantes are often called debs for short. Lorelai turns this into Debbie in reference to Little Debbie, a brand of cookie and cake snacks that has a little girl on the logo.

It’s a product line of McKee Foods, and the company founders, O.D. and Ruth McKee named it after their granddaughter, Debbie, in 1960, even using her image to promote the products. Debbie McKee-Fowler is now the Executive Vice-President of McKee Foods.

Endless Love

LORELAI: Now, I know you would rather sit through Endless Love than ever be a part of this scene again.

Endless Love is a 1981 romantic drama, based on the 1979 novel of the same name by Scott Spencer. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, and starring Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt, Tom Cruise makes his film debut, in a minor role.

It’s a drippy story of teenage love gone wrong, with high melodrama which includes arson, being committed to a psychiatric institution, and imprisonment. It received mixed reviews, with only Brooke Shields getting any praise, and the book’s author saying the screen adaptation had been “botched”. Despite this, the film was a box-office success. The film’s theme song, also called Endless Love, became a #1 hit for Lionel Richie and Diana Ross.

976 Numbers

LORELAI: Now comes the reason for my phone call.
CHRISTOPHER: All your regular 976 numbers are busy.

976 numbers are premium phone numbers on a local level, as opposed to 900 numbers, which are national. Calling such a number will charge you by the minute. They were first used in the early 1970s. Although premium numbers could be used for such things as the time or the weather, they were especially associated with adult entertainment lines, which is what Christopher is implying.

Although the internet has almost killed off the old-fashioned sex line, they are still gamely struggling along.

Famous Debutantes

CHRISTOPHER: Well, did you tell her about Barbara Hutton, Doris Duke, Gloria Vanderbilt?
LORELAI: Yes, and she’s perfectly willing to marry Cary Grant, get offed by her crazy butler, and start designing blue jeans as soon as the ball ends.

Barbara Hutton, previously discussed. She was first dubbed the “Poor Little Rich Girl” at her lavish debutante ball in 1930. She married seven times. Her third marriage was to Hollywood actor Cary Grant in 1942; although he genuinely seemed to care for Hutton, they divorced in 1945. Grant did not seek or receive money from her in the divorce settlement. He was probably her best husband.

Doris Duke (1912-1993), billionaire tobacco heiress and socialite, dubbed the “Richest Girl in the World”. She was presented as a debutante in 1930, at a ball at the family home in Newport, Rhode Island. She was widely travelled, with an interest in the arts and horticulture. She was the first non-Hawaiian woman to take up the sport of surfing. A keen philanthropist, she donated money to AIDS research, medicine, and child welfare, including supporting the education of black students in the South. Duke died from a stroke, but rumours persist that she was murdered by her Irish butler, Bernard Lafferty (1945-1996). No charges were ever laid, and Lafferty died in his sleep only three years later. He wasn’t “crazy” so much as an alcoholic.

Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019), heiress, socialite, artist, actress, and fashion designer. During the 1930s she was the focus of a scandalous child custody case between her mother and her paternal aunt, Gertrude Whitney, which Gertrude won after Gloria’s mother was declared an unfit parent. Gloria made her debut in 1940. Vanderbilt studied both acting and art, managing to have successful careers in both, as well as becoming an author. A model at 15, she ventured into the fashion industry in the 1970s, and in 1976 launched a line of blue jeans which were an immediate success.

(The picture is Gloria Vanderbilt as a sixteen-year-old debutante).

Helsinki, the Girl Band, and the Nordic Set

CHRISTOPHER: Where are you?
LORELAI: Helsinki.
CHRISTOPHER: Really.
LORELAI: Yeah, I finally got the girl band together and after a week opening stateside, we headed across the Atlantic and now we’re huge with the Nordic set.

Helsinki is the capital of Finland with a population of over 600 000, although the greater Helsinki urban area is over 1.5 million. It is the most northerly metropolitan area with more than a million people, and the most northerly EU capital city. It has one of the world’s highest standards of living, and has been rated among the world’s most livable cities.

Lorelai told Max that her dream was join The Bangles, and this is another reference to Lorelai forming a girl band. The Bangles did tour Scandinavia in 1986, but never played Helsinki.

“The Nordic set” is a media phrase, more common in the early 2000s, for the fashionable Scandinavian crowd (such as Danish supermodel Helena Christensen).

Boston

CHRISTOPHER: Yeah, Boston. Baked beans, cream pie, tea party, strangler.

Boston is the capital of, and largest city in, the state of Massachusetts. It was founded by Puritan colonists in 1630. It has a population of more than 600 000 people, is one of the economically most dominant cities in the world, and is known for its diversity of neighbourhoods. It’s about two and a half hours drive from where Stars Hollow would be, so Christopher is significantly closer to them now. It’s also 15 minutes drive from Harvard University ….

Note that Christopher has moved to Boston without letting Lorelai and Rory know, or even giving them the landline number for his new apartment. It seems he hasn’t spoken to them since Lorelai’s bachelorette party, with the excuse that he was giving Lorelai space after she broke her engagement. Which might be reasonable, except he has a daughter, and there’s no excuse for not phoning her. Once again, Rory is an afterthought in Christopher’s relationship with Lorelai, rather than the focal point she should be.

Christopher quickly rattles off a few associations for Boston:

Boston baked beans

Baked beans sweetened with molasses and flavoured with salt pork or bacon. It’s been a speciality of Boston since colonial times, and baked beans with frankfurters is a favourite dish. Boston is sometimes known as Beantown.

Boston cream pie

A sponge cake with custard or cream filling, glazed with chocolate. It’s said to have been created in 1881 at the Parker House Hotel in Boston by a French chef. It’s the official dessert of Massachusetts.

Boston Tea Party

A political protest by the an organisation called the Sons of Liberty in Boston on December 16 1773. It was in protest of the Tea Act, which allowed the British East India Company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by British parliament. The Sons of Liberty strongly opposed the taxes as a violation of their rights, with the slogan “no taxation without representation”. Protesters destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company, boarding the ships and throwing chests of tea into Boston Harbor. The British government responded harshly, and the episode escalated into the American Revolution. The Tea Party became an iconic event of American history.

Boston Strangler

The name given to the murderer of thirteen women in Boston in the early 1960s; most were sexually assaulted and strangled in their apartments with no signs of forced entry. In 1967 a man named Albert DeSalvo confessed to being the Boston Strangler while serving life imprisonment for a series of rapes; he was found stabbed to death in prison in 1973. Although his confession revealed some details of the crimes unknown to the public, and DNA evidence has linked him with the Strangler’s final victim, doubts remain as to whether he committed all the Boston murders. George Nassar, the prison inmate DeSalvo reportedly confessed to, is the major suspect; he is currently serving life in prison for murder. Several films have been made about the case, most notably The Boston Strangler (1968), starring Tony Curtis.

Christopher’s glib associations for the city bring to mind the way Rory summed up Chicago to Dean as “Windy. Oprah”.

“… some mice, a dog, a pumpkin”

LORELAI: And uh, you’ll need shoes, hose, gloves, some mice, a dog, a pumpkin.

Lorelai is referencing Cinderella, previously discussed. Cinderella’s fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a coach, and a dog and some mice into attendants so that she could go to the ball in style.

It’s interesting that the last time Lorelai compared Rory’s situation to Cinderella was for her sixteenth birthday party, organised by Emily. This is another formal, dressy occasion they are going to for Emily’s sake, where Rory will be primped and put on display for Hartford society. For both events, Lorelai did her best to help Rory, even though she didn’t fully approve.

Lorelai is casting herself in the role of the fairy godmother, who is going to help Rory transform into a fairy tale princess for one night.