- Written by Garry
- Created: 14 January 2016
Last time Kim and I were in Cleveland OH, we made the decision not to visit the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. We were only in town for an afternoon and didn't really know that much about the museum. We spent time with family instead.
Since that trip, I've learned a little more about it and I regretted not taking the time to check it out. So this time around we didn't make the same same mistake.
This is the part of the story where I'm supposed to try to convince you about how knowledgeable I am about rock music and how deeply aware I am of all the history, roots, influences and moments that have gone into shaping rock'n'roll culture. I'm supposed to pretend that not only have I heard of all the several hundred artists from exhibits spanning an entire century, but that I'm intimately familiar with and influenced by all of them, because I'm a far more hard-core rock'n'roll music aficionado than you are. You just listen to rock music; I live it.
I don't go in for that sort of hyperbolic nonsense anymore. I mean... well this whole website is more-or-less nonsense, but at least I'm upfront about it. The exhibits in the museum were excellent and informative, but to me it was the old guys with grey ponytails, faded headbands and frayed leather jackets wandering from display to display and nodding their heads with what they imagined were wise and sagely expressions (they might have just been tripping, or possibly falling asleep) that really told the story of rock'n'roll. It was those guys, and the younger musos doing the same routine, but dressed in jeans and merchandise t-shirts from their own bands while having competitions with each other to who could demonstrate the most knowledge about the most obscure artists from the 1970s, but who were really just regurgitating what they'd just read on the museum exhibits like it was common knowledge. That's how you know rock'n'roll will never die I guess.
It's easy to be too judgmental; I used to be exactly the same. In fact the most profound realisation I came to among all those faces, outfits and album covers was that I don't know when I stopped.
As a teenager, I was absolutely certain I was destined to make my mark as a singer/song-writer (assuming I wasn't too busy opening the batting for Australia) and I even had a band with my school friends. We did some gigs around Darwin and even recorded a couple of tracks. We liked to think we had a devoted fan group, but was basically just our sisters who got dragged along to hear us play.
I stopped playing with that band when I went off to university, but I was sure I would be able to make it on my own. I kept writing songs and playing them for no-one. Reading back over some of them, it's embarrassing to see how they all sound like they were written by an angsty self-important teen aged arts student, but comforting to remember that... well... they were. Meanwhile my co-conspirators went on to become authors and award-winning screenwriters and - yep - rock stars. Me? I played the occasional gig at the Happy Yess when they absolutely couldn't find anyone else. Now I don't even do that anymore.
Oh and I have a blog. You're reading it now. Maybe.
All of this was going through my mind as I stared up at set lists and jackets from U2's first tour. I tried to figure out what made them different from me. I decided "Everything, and nothing". Then I decided that was perhaps the most pretentious thing I'd ever written (quite an achievement, actually) and went with "They're international rock stars and I'm a communication and administration officer because those are the paths we've chosen. That's still not exactly down-to-earth, but it's possibly a little closer to the truth.
As with all museums, the exit took us through the gift shop. Did I want a book of photographic musical and cultural history? No. Did I want a souvenir t-shirt of the Rock Hall. No. Did I want an Elvis Presley themed shot glass? Um... no. Did I want a piano key slap band?
That's one glorious piano themed relic from the early 90s right there. And now I have the wrist band to prove it...
And then, just in case this whole post wasn't dripping with enough superfluous pathos as it was: This is the flyer for the photographic exhibit that occupied the top floor while we were there. In December. We had absolutely no idea what was just around the corner...
Ouch: that's some first rate pathos right there. Make of that what you will.
Garry with 2 Rs