I have a bucket list of sort. You know, things I want to do before I pass on to become one with the Force. I’m not going to share all of the items here but I’ve been lucky in the fact that I’ve accomplished a number of them. Recently, I got to scratch another one off due to pure chance.
I got to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Last week, my wife and I drove to Erie, Pennsylvania in the hopes of finding toys we could not find in Canada, items for two nephews who will arrive around Christmas, some random things for her work and a few bags of different flavoured Oreos.
My wife had good luck in her toy hunting, tracking don a few My Little Pony lines that have yet to make it across our border. Me, not so much. I did manage to track down an awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Classic Leonardo at Walmart. Tons of articulation and a great sculpt, it really captures the feel of the movie Turtles without breaking the bank like the ones from some of the premium toy companies out there.
But it was on our trip to an outlet mall, a highway sign told me that we weren’t that far from Cleveland. At the hotel, I looked it up and we were only an hour and a half from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I cautiously asked my wife if there was any chance we could go. She laughed at me, said I was being silly and that we could go as we had nothing planned on Saturday.
I had no idea how big it was so I emailed my new music nerds in arms, Alan Cross and Jeff Woods about the place. Was there any specific exhibits I needed to find? Was I wasting my time by going? Was I setting myself up for a letdown. Alan replied with the note that he hadn’t been there in years but it was a must visit. Jeff mentioned that I might be able to get it done in a day if I was lucky.
Situated on Cleveland’s waterfront, the building itself is this nice mix of glass and steel. As you walk up to the front doors, you can already hear the music of some of the various inductees playing off some nice sounding outdoor speakers. Then you enter the HoF and it’s glorious.
For me, as a serious music nerd, it’s honestly kind of like walking into the Vatican. You are greeted right away by some cars that were used as part of U2’s lighting rig during the Zoo TV tour (probably my favourite era of U2). There seems to be a long line to get your tickets but it flows incredibly quick and smooth. Now I don’t know how often he is there but the guy who sold us our tickets looked like he used to be a bodyguard for The Stones. Big, biker looking guy that seemed incredibly appropriate. Like he had done his time in security or being a roadie and this was his reward.
The next couple of hours are a bit of a blur. There is so much to see, I had to really force myself to slow down to take it all in. Luckily, I took a crap ton of photos so I can manage to put a few thoughts together. Here are some of my highlights.
Hand Written Lyric Fragment from “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys
There are very few perfect songs. If you sit there long enough, you can usually find a flaw or two in anything. God Only Knows is (in my humble opinion) one of those rare, perfect pop songs. Between the lyrics, the melody and the harmonies, every time I hear it, I just get a bit of a smile on my face. It’s amazing to see such a beautiful song started off as such a small scrap of paper.
Devo was probably the first nerd rock band. Their sound was different, innovative and weird when they hit the public consciousness in the mid-seventies. It’s a band I fell in love with the moment I heard them.
Hand Written Lyrics to “London Calling” by The Clash
I’m not much of a punk guy but I have an incredible fondness for both The Ramones and The Clash. London Calling is a great song but seeing this lyric sheet made me realize that in order to be a rock star, you’ve apparently got to have good penmanship. Hell, the worst handwriting I saw in the entire museum was Joe Walsh’s on Life’s Been Good To Me and it was still light years ahead of my sloppy handwriting.
George Clinton Outfit
I discovered Parliament Funkadelic in my mid-teens when they performed with The Red Hot Chilli Peppers at the Grammys. Gotta love the costumes that went with their awesome sound.
The first solid body Les Paul
The electric guitar has long been seen as the instrument of rock n’ roll but with out Les Paul and his “Log”, things may have turned out differently. It’s a terrific piece of history that I never thought I’d get a chance to see.
“Head Master” from The Wall
Now, I couldn’t figure out if this was used in any actual live performance but as a huge Pink Floyd fan, I can tell you that it’s at the very least an exact copy of one of the performance inflatables used by Roger Waters or Pink Floyd and it’s an amazing sight to see.
I could go on and on. While I’ve always had issues with how the HoF does it’s selections, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame itself is a must see for anyone who has a deep nerdy passion for rock music in all of it’s many forms. And even if you’re just kind of into music, it’s a great way to kill a day.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!