Saturday, April 14, 2012


Today I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum for the first time in years... I have to say that, although I've been there a couple of times, it always takes my breath away.

Now I know that that sounds a bit corny.  But I was standing near a guitar played by Muddy Waters.  And near guitars played by Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley.  It's pretty amazing when you think about the effect that the fingers that played those strings had on the future of music.

At the same time, I saw guitars from Tim Armstrong of Rancid, Slash and Zakk Wylde.  The museum absolutely treats rock and roll as a living, breathing thing and I think that that's so important.  It's not just a wax museum.  It's a museum about the music, not just the inductees.

There was a lot to love about the museum. I really dug the exhibit about protests against rock and roll. It's great to remember how scary the music was to the establishment at one point.

There was a cool exhibit with props from Pink Floyd's Wall tour.  Amazing to have The Teacher looking down at you.  The scope of that album still blows me away, but standing next to the pieces from that tour's stage really fosters your appreciation of what an ambitious project it was - a concept album, movie and stage show, conceived all at the same time.   The big exhibit of the moment focuses on The Grateful Dead, but I only checked it out a bit.

Another theater had a film... I wasn't really sure what it was about, but it had interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Bono and Pete Townshend, among others. I've seen footage from these exact interviews before, but it's always fun to watch those guys wax about rock music. But there's one part where Townshend talks about his friends dying: Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon.  "They may be your fucking icons, but they're MY fucking friends!" And another part where he talks about how guys like Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain and Ice-T will keep doing what he does, even if he stops.

I went into one theater and they were playing a film showing the Rock Hall's 25th anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden from a few years ago.  I could just watch that at home, of course.  But watching Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band performing "Born To Run" (with Billy Joel) on a huge screen was cool.  And I got chills watching Clarence Clemons playing that sax solo. 

Other screens had highlights from past induction ceremonies:  Alicia Keys' amazing speech about Prince, Prince owning Clapton's solo during the all-star jam on George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," the Cream reunion, the Talking Heads reunion, John Fogerty making his speech with his former bandmates standing coldly near him, and then performing afterwards with Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson. They've had some great moments. 

I'm writing this as I'm sitting in the press room waiting for this year's ceremony to start.  This time, the inductees aren't only artists who I had to play "catch up" with once I discovered them (although I *have* played "catch up" with The Faces), but some that I've been with since their early albums: Guns N Roses, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys. I'm looking forward to seeing some of those great moments tonight. 

The first time I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum was actually opening weekend.  My then-girlfriend/now-wife suggested going on a road trip to Cleveland for opening weekend (a big concert marking the opening boasted Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band doing their first show together in a long time, John Mellencamp, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, James Brown, Johnny Cash, Iggy Pop, Chuck Berry, John Fogerty and The Allman Brothers Band, among others). I had managed expectations about how cool the museum would be: I was picturing a Madame Tussaud's type deal. I was really happy when I saw it: they really do a great job of keeping the history and telling the story.  I'm glad that that is still the case today.  I couldn't give a higher recommendation for the museum: you really need to go.  I had a great time there today, and I can't wait to come back.  

1 comment:

Eric said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing that. I have only been to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame once, and like you, I was impressed and blown away. What I thought was going to take a short period of time to go through instead got me wrapped up in an exhibit about Les Paul. I learned a lot that day, and I got to share in a lot of history. Being there the weekend you were HAD to be incredible.