Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

My Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wristband.

The children decided to play Marco Polo with their small yappy-type dog at 9 this morning so I’m awake, even if I don’t want to be. As such, I thought I’d post about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

My cab driver yesterday, Mike (who forbade me from calling him ‘sir,’ which only served to make me call him ‘sir’ more) was a veritable font of information about Cleveland. He asked me if I’d prefer the scenic route or the highway. Scenic would take fifteen minutes more, but cost the same as the highway. I, of course, chose the scenic route. I’m glad I did, too. I got to see a lot of Lake Erie (“60 miles thataway is Canada!” he told me at one point) and a lot of ginormous houses belonging to Cleveland’s rich and famous (“you see that pink house? The guy who draws Ziggy lives there...” and “you see that building with the red door? Eliot Ness lived there when he was our security chief; you know, the guy who caught Al Capone...”) Still, nearly every building is made of brick and many have lush green ivy climbing up the walls so it was a feast for my eyes.

I don’t know what radio station we were listening to, but it was definitely the radio. I don’t know if the Buzzard still exists, but I’m betting it was WMMS. The only songs I remember are “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure followed by “Beautiful Day” by U2 and then Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt.” You’ll not hear that mix on a station in Florida, at least not one that isn’t XM or Sirius.

While I was looking at the houses and the cars and the general lay of the land, I realized something about Cleveland when compared to Sarasota: up here, people aren’t so concerned with artifice. Sarasota’s concerned with looks, of the city as well as its citizenry, to the point of distraction. Cleveland seems to say, “Yeah, this is what it is and we’re cool with that.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

So, eventually we make it to the Hall of Fame, which was designed by the same guy who did the Louvre - the glass pyramid thing is his signature according to Mike. There’s no photography allowed inside and they ask visitors to check their cameras at the coat check stand. I did not do that, but I also did not take any photos of the inside. When I got to the Stevie Nicks section, I so wanted to whip out my camera, but I resisted...I didn’t want to get tossed out.

The first thing I did when I got there, other than buy my ticket and such, was I watched the Mystery Train piece which was about the history of rock and roll. The first half covered the blues / country / jazz / soul influence and the second half took up from Elvis and the Beatles and went through to Metallica and was mainly about how sucky being a rock star is...I liked the first half better, but they did play the original “How Soon Is Now?” No footage of Stevie, no footage of Fleetwood this exhibit anyway. This was the only one I sat through as the Inductees exhibit was an hour long and I was starting to not feel all that great.

I perked up considerably when I saw the Stevie Nicks section. I ran down an old woman and a child because neither got out of my way fast enough. They have six of her dresses, then there were a couple of stickers, an 8 track tape of Rumours (um, really guys?), Stevie’s ballet slippers from the cover of Rumours, and a photo of Stevie with Steven Tyler and some other people. That’s it? Really? Couldn’t Lindsay bear to part with an old guitar or eyeliner from the Tusk days? No drumsticks from Mick or his resin balls? I think John’s playing the same bass and Christine’s still playing the same Rhodes or Korg piano. I mean, I’ve got some old vinyl Mac records, that’s probably worth a bit o’ space in the exhibit, though I certainly wouldn’t part with my Buckingham Nicks vinyl...that took forever to find.

After staying extra long at the Stevie exhibit (she’s an inductee with Fleetwood Mac, but I wonder if she can be inducted on her own, too), I roamed around staring at all of the Bowie stuff (six outfits spanning his career, including that awesome jacket from the cover of Earthling) and a bunch of memorabilia from the Serious Moonlight tour. They had some guitars from ZZ Top, and a fiber optic sign they used on tour - maybe my mom saw it when she went to their concerts.

They had a few rejection letters that were sent to U2, which I thought was one of the best things to include in the museum to show all the future rockers that even U2 was rejected in the beginning and look at them now.

They had two huge exhibits dedicated to Elvis and the Beatles and a couple of sections dedicated to Michael Jackson and, I’ll be honest...I skipped over those. I’m not into Elvis, I like the fifties poppy Beatles and not the sixties psychedelic Beatles, and I liked Michael Jackson when I was seven. When he started altering his appearance, I stopped liking his work.

I think my favourite non-Stevie exhibit might be the Jimi Hendrix one. It was huge, with outfits and several guitars, but I was most intrigued by his artwork. He had no formal training and it showed, but his work was fantastic. There was one piece he titled “The Good Shepherd and His Flock” and, in the background, there was one subtle black sheep. It might be my favourite.

It’s weird to look at some of these outfits and realize that these larger than life rock stars are your height. I mean, I know Stevie Nicks is roughly my height (5’4”) when she’s wearing her omigod tall boots, but looking at the full outfits of people like Mick Jagger and David Bowie and, taking for granted that they’re on mannequins, realizing they’re not that much taller than me is pretty neat. I think both Bowie and Jagger are around 6’. I also realized that the Thin White Duke is remarkably a lot like Jareth fashion-wise.

They even had small sections devoted to Joy Division / New Order and Siouxsie and the Banshees, which I really wasn’t expecting. They had handwritten lyrics for “Love Will Tear Us Apart” which is probably my favourite Joy Division song (I think that’s everyone’s favourite JD song, though...)

There was a sizable section devoted to Les Paul, the recently deceased innovator who designed guitars for Gibson. They had early prototypes, and recreations of some of them, in the exhibit as well as early footage of him performing with his wife. Lots of old school recording equipment, too. I almost wish you could play with brother would have a field day if he could get his hands on that stuff! I think he'd dig just seeing them, too.

They also had an art piece based on Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Nothing donated to the museum from the group, at least that I saw and it’s easy to miss stuff because there’s just so much to look at and read and I didn’t have that much time, but an artist created a giant wall and painted the words of Roger Waters on the back about why he decided to create The Wall. I wish I could have taken photos of that, too, because it was very cool.

On the same floor was the Janis Joplin and Rolling Stone Magazine exhibits. They had the original Fleetwood Mac issue from ’77 or ’78, with the band in bed together: Stevie with Mick, Lindsay with Christine, and John off to the side by himself and the Joplin exhibit had a lot of stuff about the Hell’s Angels and her scrapbook and some handwritten lyrics.

It was worth the trip just for Stevie’s dresses, but it was awesome to see so many other things from groups I admire. If you’re ever near Cleveland and like rock and roll, I highly recommend going.


Marvin the Martian said...

Funny, I didn't even NOTICE the Stevie Nicks "section." I thought it was annoying how they just lump a bunch of unrelated crap together from different bands in the cases. But the section on Les Paul was WAY cool. And the Beatles, too. The stuff on Jimi Hendrix, eh. And I thought the valentine from a very young Jim Morrison (plus his Cub Scout uniform!) was out of place in a Rock and Roll museum.

Lori said...

Marvin: It was relatively small even with the six dresses. I can't even remember who she was next to, I was so enthralled. Aerosmith, maybe? It was the first thing I saw when I walked into the costume room.

I liked it when they included things from their childhood in the museum, or rejection letters like U2 received. It showed these Rock and Roll Gods as regular people and there were a lot of teenagers in the place, all of whom I assume were dreaming of being in the rock star pantheon. If that were my dream and I was 15, seeing Jim Morrison's Cub Scout uniform would have been inspiring.