There are times when one looks at the sales record of a group that has had enduring influence and realizes that they were much more popular than you had thought. Such was the case for me when I examined the popularity of the Indigo Girls. Having been familiar with such songs as “Closer To Fine,” “Galileo,” and “Shame On You” on the radio over the past twenty years, it came as a great surprise to me to see not only that the band had an enviable record of gold and platinum (and one multi-platinum) albums but that one of their members owns a record label for other independent singer-songwriters. This is precisely the sort of influence one would expect from a band that had been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but not only has that not taken place, but I have never even heard of the band as among the most significant snubs of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as if they were not even on the radar.
The Influence Of The Indigo Girls
How does one measure influence? Does performing on a hit song with Pink where serious cultural and political issues are addressed count as influence? Does owning a record label that encourages and supports the distribution of music for independent singer-songwriters count as influence? What about their leftist political activism for such causes as LGBT rights, feminism, environmentalism, Native American rights, and opposition to the death penalty? Or what about the fact that even nearly thirty years after the release of their self-produced debut album they still have songs played on AAA stations in the United States, namely the aforementioned “Closer To Fine,” “Galileo,” and “Shame On You.” When one thinks of the most important folk rock groups of the last few decades, the Indigo Girls are on that list, and have encouraged others after them. It is hard to think of a more obvious case for induction that is more obscure than this one.
Why The Indigo Girls Belong In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Even apart from their own label, the ominously named Daemon Records, with such artists as Magnapop, the Ellen James Society, the New Mongrels, Kristen Hall, Rose Polenzani, Girlyman, James Hall, and the Athens Boys Choir, even apart from their enduring catalog singles that have remained relevant and beloved despite never achieving great chart success on the pop charts, even apart from their collaborations with Pink, Anne Murray, Joan Baez, and Brandi Carlisle, or their fan-friendly permission to concertgoers to tape their performances and share them with other fans, the Indigo Girls have the cold, hard sales to make a solid case for induction. Try this on for size: a double platinum album (their self-titled sophomore album), three platinum albums (Rites of Passage, Swamp Ophelia, and the double cd live album 1200 Curfews) as well as three additional gold albums (Strange Fire, Nomads Indians Saints, and Shaming of the Sun) . That’s a record of hit albums not possessed by many artists, particularly not artists who have been a part of a somewhat marginal community.
Why Aren’t The Indigo Girls In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?
Many female acts in general remain snubbed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Janet Jackson, among many, many others ), and it seems that open and obviously lesbian singers have had an even tougher time being inducted. Aside from that, it seems as if many people are not aware of just how much success the band has had as an album-oriented folk rock band with tight harmonies and sustained critical approval. Perhaps they should be made aware.
Verdict: This is a pretty open and shut case for induction.
 See, for example: