Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Friday, June 25, 2010


We just got back from spending several hours at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, within spittin’ distance of the shores of Lake Erie.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I have done our share of music-related tourism in days past. We’ve visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. But country music does not speak to me deep in the recesses of my emotional core, so there is a “going through the motions” component to those experiences that is, perhaps, unavoidable.

This was different.

This was a museum filled with the memorabilia of the music that nurtured us through our developing years.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that there’s something slightly ridiculous about elevating any aspect of Pop Culture to the level of Museum-Worthiness. And yet, when you consider the total cultural and economic impact of rock music and its various source materials and derivatives over the past sixty years or so, there is no denying its drawing power. Why wouldn’t you build a museum for it?

Now: What better way to celebrate our visit to the R&RHoF&M than to post the Cheese Aisle’s first Friday Random Ten? Why, to post a Friday Non-Random Ten, of course. Instead of firing up the Little White Choon-Box to see what’s playing, I’ll post songs by artists whose various relics we saw.

Here we go:
  1. A Day In The Life - The Beatles

    Seeing the grey, lapelless jackets the Fab Four wore in 1964 when they first came to America - and the very outfit John Lennon wore on the cover of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band - was impressive enough. But it was little things like Lennon’s old report cards that really got to me.

  2. Walk This Way - Aerosmith

    Steve Tyler’s original, handwritten lyrics reveal an astonishing level of orthographic ignorance. In other words, the boy can’t spell his way out of a paper bag (not that it really matters in the Rock and Roll Bidnis.) “Reminisce,” f’r instance, is rendered as “remoniss.”

  3. Hound Dog - Elvis Presley

    There’s plenty of Elvis stuff, from hotel bills to the flashy outfits he wore in his Fat Years. Here’s a bit of trivia: My friend Barry had an uncle who was a session drummer in Memphis... and who played on several of the early hits, including “Hound Dog.” A canny businessman (or so he thought at the time), he insisted on being paid in cash for his session work instead of getting a cut from the royalties. Big mistake, but who could blame him? Later, Elvis presented him with a Cadillac by way of a thank-you... but think of the money he could have made from just a tiny piece of “Hound Dog”!

  4. Sweet Virginia - The Rolling Stones

    Plenty of Rolling Stones detritus, including several of Mick Jagger’s outfits. (It’s strange how bizarre most Rock and Roll Clothing looks up close.)

  5. Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash

    Johnny Cash’s tour bus is parked out in front of the Museum, and visitors can walk through it. Beautifully appointed, it is equipped with cedar-lined closets and a special toilet designed to handle those occasional Mexican food-driven “Ringmeat of Fire” events.

  6. Thriller - Michael Jackson

    Our visit to the Museum coincided with the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s untimely death. Notable MJ relics include one of his white gloves, along with several of the outfits he wore in his various shows and music videos. Among them is the shredded red jacket he wore in the “Thriller” video, back when he was only pretending to be dead.

  7. Are You Experienced? - Jimi Hendrix

    There’s a treasure-trove of handwritten lyrics and original clothing from the master guitarist, as well as artifacts from other members of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

  8. Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding

    Chunks of the chartered airplane in which Redding perished - and which bear his name - hang in the Museum.

  9. Bernadette - The Four Tops

    The original handwritten sheet music for this song is on display.

  10. Passion Play - Jethro Tull

    Hanging in a glass case was one of Ian Anderson’s flutes... and the patchwork suede vest he wore during Tull’s 1973 Passion Play tour. That meant that I had seen Anderson wear that very vest during a Jethro Tull concert at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. And who was with SWMBO and me at the Museum? Why, none other than our friend JoAnn, first cousin to bassist Glenn Cornick - one of the original Jethro Tull band members.

There was more. Lots, lots more. Bruce Springsteen’s handwritten notebooks, filled with early drafts of his songs. Eric Clapton’s Versace suits. Duane Allman’s guitar. A collection of Jerry Garcia’s guitars. Townes Van Zandt and Leonard Cohen setlists from their appearances on Austin City Limits (both of which made me think of Eric the Blade.)

It’s easily the most Museum Fun I’ve had since visiting the International Museum of Cartoon Art... a place that celebrates another aspect of Pop Culture that holds special appeal for me. I recommend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum highly, if you’re ever anywhere close to Cleveland.

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


Anonymous said...

.... thanks for thinking of me, sir..... I am most surely a Townes fan... and Cohen is growing on me like kudzu.... both were/are amazing songwriters....


Houston Steve said...

U can dump on Steven Tyler all u want, but i herd him sang that thar song, and is shorely sounded like he sed "rem-on-isss" to me. So he musta spelt it write.

Denny said...

I saw Tull om the Passion Play tour. I sat in the second row. They played the entire freakin' album. Then Anderson said, "Now, for our next number..." and they played for another hour-and-a-half. Awesome concert!

bob said...

I live in the Cleveland area but have never been to the R&R hof. I love the music but it's more about how it makes me feel than a visual thing for me.

Elisson said...

Houston Steve, you're only being nice to Tyler because he's a fellow member of the Legion of Stevies. But I've said it before and I'll say it again: Best thing he ever did was to squeeze out a rugrat who vaguely resembles the Mistress of Sarcasm.

Unknown said...

"(It’s strange how bizarre most Rock and Roll Clothing looks up close.)"

Funny this was mentioned in relation to Mick Jagger - G and I were looking at an old video from the mid 80s of Mick & David Bowie doing 'Dancing in the Streets' and I remarked to G that I used to think that video was so cool back in high school and now they just look ridiculous with the clothes they had on (and their dance moves - oy!).