Bob Marley's Motherfucking hat.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an awesome place. Even if you are not super keen on music, I have to think you would find it entertaining. It’s a cool building, too, on the edge of Lake Erie, and shaped like a pyramid.
We were in for less than 15 minutes, and I already felt overwhelmed. I was trying to make sure the kids were digging it and also the cousins. I felt so grateful to be there and it was such an awesome gesture for them to take us. I think Cindy knew I was going to love it, based on how I feel about music. If so, she was right.
As we walked into the third area, there was exhibits related to the people who made rock and roll happen. I was stoked to show Liam who Charlie Christian was, and he got to hear some of his music at one of the many stations. Christian played guitar for Benny Goodman and was one of the early shredders on the electric guitar.
I’m not sure Liam was as impressed as I was when I heard Christian play, but someday he will understand better about why guys like Charlie Christian made it possible for guys like Pete Townsend and Jimi Hendrix to do their thing. I’m glad a seed was planted.
Rightfully, there was also artifacts from people like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson, and Bob Wills. All three of them are favorites of mine in different ways and I felt very vindicated by seeing them so prominently displayed. I will spend several hours in the coming year talking about the musical contributions of these folks in my upcoming classes.
I can’t forget about Ruth Brown, too. I love her so much and will teach youngsters about her next year. I got to share my love for her with Mary Kay and was excited when she pointed out that Ruth Brown was on one of the many videos playing on screens around the exhibit. “Teardrops From My Eyes” is a song you should all check out.
As we walked along a wall of exhibits that showed why people were initially afraid of rock and roll, I felt so proud to be even a small part of that history. There were great quotes from Elvis Presley, Eminem, and Frank Zappa about why non-fans should not be scared. This hallway opened on a room full of Elvis Presley stuff.
I have seen some Elvis stuff before but none of it was as cool as this stuff. In one case, there was a collection of books that were among the King’s favorites. They were opened to places where he had written notes and I found them fascinating. There was also a three-wheeled motorcycle that belonged to the king and one of his glittery suits. Skinny Elvis was a very slight man, it seems, and if he was really six feet tall, he was proportioned more like someone who was a few inches shorter.
There was a cool exhibit of Jerry Garcia’s art around the corner. I had heard about him creating stuff on a computer, but they had at least a dozen examples of this work and several of his guitars in a cool, circular room. Of course, Grateful Dead music was playing in there, but there were also nods to his solo work, as well. I sent Mark a message from in there.
The blur of the rooms is catching up to me, but I feel like we went into a hallway from there that had exhibits related to different eras and genres. I was particularly taken with the punk rock exhibit. It had examples from the usual suspects, of course, including a pair of Sid Vicious’ boots. Teresa commented on how ugly they were. They had a fair number of artifacts from the Damned, which made me happy, and I kept saying to Teresa, “These are my people.”
I was somewhat disappointed there wasn’t more about New Wave music, but you can’t have everything. There was some of those bands represented, but not a lot. So much cool stuff, though. I really can’t wait to visit again so I can take it in even further. They had some grunge stuff, as well, and that was neat. As we went through these exhibits, it was fun to note how many of the artists I had either interviewed, written about, or opened for at a gig. Rock and roll is really a small community when you think about it.
Probably the most impressive part of the museum came next. Most of what followed for a good amount of square footage was dedicated to the Beatles. Tons of clothes and instruments and information were there for the absorbing. They had a cool video room where the legendary rooftop concert was being shown. The screens were big enough to make you feel like you were there, and the sound was impeccable.
I could have stayed in there for a lot longer than I did, but I was worried that our 3-hour window of being in the RRHOF was going to close before we saw it all. We pushed onward into a cool room that contained a lot of stage gear and clothing and lyrics from bands I love. There was a cool Alice Cooper exhibit and David Bowie, Prince, Depeche Mode… so many. I took a picture of a bunch of fuzzy ZZ Top gear, too.
I will post all that stuff on the ergonomic mischief Instagram at some point soon, I promise.
I can’t believe I am almost to 1000 words, and I haven’t even gotten through half of what we saw. Teresa really enjoyed the Beatles stuff, but Liam was not as impressed. He thinks John Lennon was a douche because of something he read about how he treated his children. Liam takes stuff like that very seriously and I love that about him. I did learn that the Beatles are in Teresa’s top three bands.
It was so great to see all six of us looking at things with eyes filled with wonder. More to come.
See you tomorrow.
Here is Elvis Presley's handwriting in his copy of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet. I love this book, too. I have a version without the shadow of my phone, but I love how this one picked up the mirror-like reflection of the neon ELVIS sign above.