R.E.M. Reunite, The Bacon Brothers Get “Footloose,” Trey Anastasio Gives Steely Dan Tribute, and More Moments From the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction

Steely Dan founding members Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker, R.E.M., Timbaland, Hillary Lindsey, and Dean Pitchford have officially entered the Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF). All were inducted into the SHOF during the 53rd annual ceremony on Thursday, June 13 in New York City.

The evening opened with a performance by the 2024 Abe Olman Scholarship recipients of Irene Cara‘s hit “Fame,” written for 1980 film by 2024 inductee Dean Pitchford, whose hits also include “Don’t Call It Love,” which became a country top 10 for Dolly Parton in 1985 and Whitney Houston‘s 1990 hit “All the Man That I Need.”

Spotlighting Pitchford’s contributions to the 1984 musical film Footloose—which also included Bonnie Tyler‘s “Holding Out For a Hero” and “Almost Paradise,” performed by Eric Carmen—Deniece Williams’ performed her hit “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” before Footloose star Kevin Bacon danced around the stage slapping a tambourine with brother Michael Bacon for the Bacon Brothers’ revved-up cover of the title track from the film.

During his acceptance speech, Pitchford remembered how his neighborhood playmate Yolanda Velasquez asked him if he was going to watch the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday, February 9, 1964, and how seeing them that night changed his life. “I bought my first transistor radio, and I was off,” said Pitchford. “It’s been 40 years, can you believe it?” he added later in his speech. “Thank you for listening to me all these years, and above all, thank you for hearing me.” Pitchford closed with a performance of his ballad “Once Before I Go,” which became a hit for Peter Allen in 1982.

Videos by American Songwriter

Before honoring Fagen and Becker of Steely Dan, their longtime manager Irving Azoff gave a glimpse into the humorous side of working with the band. The band once submitted a glossy photo for press use and intended on playing just one date of a booked tour. After the first show of the tour in Detroit, Michigan sold out in minutes, Azoff called to tell the band he was putting the rest of the dates on sale. “I called them and they said ‘No, no, no, don’t do that. We have no intention of touring. We just wanted to see how big we are in case we ever change our mind.'”

To help commemorate the band’s induction Phish‘s Trey Anastasio tore through a nearly eight-minute medley of Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” and “Reelin’ in the Years.” Fagen accepted the induction on behalf of Becker, who died in 2017. “I’d like to thank my partner Walter Becker, wherever he may be,” said Fagen.

“There would be no music industry without songs,” said SHOF chairman, songwriter, and producer Nile Rodgers, before presenting rapper SZA with the Hal David Starlight Award. Some past recipients include Post Malone, John Legend, Alicia Keys, Ed Sheeran, Nick Jonas, John Mayer, Sara Bareilles, and Rob Thomas. “This means the most to me,” said SZA. “Writing is where I felt like a person and that I had value … and it was beyond ‘Am I pretty? Am I liked?’ and that basically meant everything to me”

Carrie Underwood stepped out to honor hitmaker Hillary Lindsey, calling her “the queen of modern Nashville songwriters” before performing her 2005 hit “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” Lindsey has also co-written songs for Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, Shakira, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Luke Bryan, Michelle Branch, Lady A, and Martina McBride. She’s earned 27 No. 1 hits and also penned Little Big Town’s 2014 “Girl Crush” and Lady Gaga‘s “Million Reasons” from 2016 and “Always Remember Us This Way” from Gaga’s 2018 film A Star is Born.

Joking that her earliest song was “probably about poops and boogers and things,” and that she would sing into anything in her house, including her mother’s tampons,” Lindsey also thanked all of the co-writers she has worked with along the way. “Thank you for teaching me to be a better writer,” she said. “Music brings people together in ways that nothing else can,” Lindsey added. “I am and will be forever grateful.” She was then joined by Keith Urban for a duet on “Million Reasons” and his hit “Blue Ain’t Your Color.”

To induct songwriter and producer Timbaland was his longtime friend and collaborator Missy Elliot, who shared earlier stories about the strange animal sounds Timbaland would create around new sounds and beats.

“Timbaland literally changed the cadence of the time, because Tim also treated hip-hop records like R&B records,” said Elliott. “That’s what made Timbaland different. He didn’t go to school for it. It was a feeling.”

During his speech, Timbaland said “I don’t really talk too much. I just talk with my music,” and thanked his grandmother and the late Aaliyah, whose 1996 hit “One in a Million” he co-wrote with Elliott. He then conducted a group of musicians through a medley of some of his hits, including Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On,” along with Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody,” Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” and “Suit & Tie,” Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love,” and more.

“It’s hard to be in a real band, to create a catalog that reflects the sense of each band member’s unique perspective, their fears, their musical personality,” said an out-of-breath Jason Isbell, who just finished performing R.E.M.’s 1987 tongue-twisting hit “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” a song he admitted he first memorized when he was 10 years old.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 13: Timbaland speaks onstage during the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on June 13, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame)

“Usually, it’s the two main guys writing all the songs, and then the rest of the band is nodding along,” added Isbell, “but R.E.M. was greater than the sum of its parts. Bill, Mike, Peter, Michael, and Mike, each a great songwriter in his own right, but in the context of the collaboration something truly magical happened. Nobody sounds like R.E.M., even now, and it ain’t for lack of trying.”

[RELATED: R.E.M. Performs for First Time in 17 Years at the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame]

Isbell shared his early connection to the band’s music and how it helped him feel less “strange and out of place” growing up in the South. “I heard their songs on the radio all the time, and it’s safe to say thousands of outcast kids in the South had that same experience,” he said adding that R.E.M. created “art that will outlive all of us.”

“I don’t know if humanity will make it another 1,000 years,” continued Isbell, “but if we do, a weird kid in a tiny town will hear ‘Nightswimming’ and feel less alone.”

After their induction speech, R.E.M. walked on stage together to perform for the first time in 17 years with original members Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry, for a stripped-back version of their 1991 hit “Losing My Religion,” marking the first time the original four members have performed together since their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction in 2007.

Closing the night, Paul Williams presented Diane Warren—inducted in the SHOF in 2001—the Johnny Mercer Award, following a glimmering performance of “Stand Up for Something” by Andra Day. “A.I. worries about Diane Warren,” joked Williams. As one of the most celebrated songwriters, Warren wrote her first hit in 1985 with DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night” and has had nine No. 1 hits, 32 Top 10 hits, won Grammy, Emmy, and Golden Globe awards, and earned 13 Oscar-nominated songs for Best Original Song.

“Songwriting isn’t something I do,” said Warren. “It is who I am and what I live and breathe for every day of my life.” El DeBarge closed the night with a performance of her first hit.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 13: (L-R) Carrie Underwood and Diane Warren attend the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on June 13, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame)

[RELATED: Cindy Walker, Writer Behind “You Don’t Know Me,” Receives Posthumous Induction Into Songwriters Hall of Fame]

In April 2024, the Songwriters Hall of Fame also posthumously inducted the late country singer and songwriter Cindy Walker during a special ceremony in Nashville at Studio A. During the ceremony, 2023 SHOF inductee Liz Rose talked about her close relationship with Walker, who died in 2006 at 88 and was most well-known for her 1955 hit “You Don’t Know Me.”

In 1941, a 22-year-old Walker walked into the office of Bing Crosby Enterprises to pitch a song she had written for the crooner. Released in 1941, “Lone Star Trail” became a top 10 hit for Crosby, and Walker went on to write songs for Gene Autry, Loretta Lynn, Jim Reeves, Roy Orbison, and Perry Como, among many other hits.

The 54th Songwriters Hall of Fame induction will take place on Thursday, June 12, 2025.

Photo: The Bacon Brothers’ Michael (l) and Kevin Bacon by L. Busacca/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Kiki Wong Discusses Performing With the Smashing Pumpkins for the First Time: "Someone Pinch Me"

Kiki Wong Shares Her “Pinch Me” Moment of Performing With The Smashing Pumpkins for the First Time

On This Day: Nirvana’s Debut Album ‘Bleach’ Is Released and Launches One of the Most Legendary Rock Bands in History