In a recent issue of Rolling Stone, the Hall of Fame and Museum dominated almost the entire issue. Rolling Stone’s editor and Publisher Jann Wenner was actually instrumental in establishing the Hall of Fame so covering the excitement surrounding the recent 25th Anniversary concert* that took place over two nights in New York’s Madison Square Garden was a no brainer. The issue is chock full of information about the Hall and Museum, including an explanation to the oft asked question, “Why is it in Cleveland?” (Answer: Alan Freed, a Cleveland DJ, coined the term “rock and roll”; that and Cleveland offered financial support for the museum!) Check out the issue for in-depth coverage of the concert and a thorough history of the Hall of Fame and museum.
My experience at the Museum was great. I love hearing musicians talk about music (which is why I think “It Might Get Loud” is one of the best films ever made) and their love of music. When artists articulate their passion for music, I think, “Yes, you get it! We’re brethren – we’re cut from the same cloth!” It was no surprise, then, that my favorite part of the museum was the plethora of musician testimonials. Throughout the Museum, artists’ quotes are scattered on the walls and within the artifacts; in the Jimi Hendrix exhibit (which was great but no match for the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Experience Music Project in Seattle) the wall was decorated with various Jimi quotes, including one I loved so much, I wrote it down (after I finished tearing up.) Jimi said, “It’s not an act but a state of being. I play and move as I feel. My music, my instrument, my sound, my body are all one action with my mind.” Preach, brother! There were also great testimonials in the many films that played in various parts of the Museum. Bruce Springsteen is featured prominently in many of these films (and there’s currently a special exhibit about him at the Museum) and he is one of the greats when it comes to articulating how music makes you feel. Hearing The Boss talk about loving music was such a treat – when I got home, the first thing I did was put on my vinyl of Born in the USA. (And for what it’s worth: That album cover – whew, patriotism never looked so good!)
Another neat part of the Museum was seeing the original papers on which songwriters wrote their songs. In one display case was Jimi’s “first draft” of Purple Haze (which was originally titled Purple Haze/Jesus Saves). In another was Green Day’s Minority. In another were several Springsteen songs, including Glory Days. I think it’s so interesting to see where the artist was when he first wrote the song and then to listen to how the song changed (or didn’t change) by the time it was recorded.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Museum, tells our musical history. It is a fantastic archive for any music fan to pore over and, with the exhibits and vault items constantly changing (only about one fifth of the artifacts in the vault are on display at a time), it is definitely worth rocking and rolling through again and again.
Visit the Rock Hall’s website for a complete list of Hall of Fame inductees, like The Boss, Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan.
*Calling the exciting concerts that took place in October a 25th Anniversary concert is a bit of a misnomer. The idea for a Hall of Fame was hatched and set in motion in 1983. (A great year!) The first class of inductees was inducted in 1986. Neither of these years makes 2009 a 25th anniversary year. They could have easily called it the 26th Anniversary concert or the 23rd Anniversary concert, but they didn’t. Doesn’t anybody listen to Dan Rydell, who pleaded, “What, there’s a law that it’s gotta come on fives and tens?”