Treasure Hunting in Cleveland
I didn’t expect the inside of Cleveland’s Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame to live up to the promise made by its exterior. The building was designed by I. M. Pei who designed the Louvre’s iconic glass pyramid. The Hall of Fame looks so much like the Louvre, in fact, that I half expected Tom Hanks to round the corner in full Da Vinci Code mode. He didn’t. So we went inside.
Their collection is entirely unlike like the type of cheesy display that you would encounter at a Hard Rock Café where a random guitar and two shiny outfits that were worn on stage by someone you have sort of heard of are encased in Plexiglas on pedestals. The six floors of the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame have been thoughtfully planned and assembled with obvious reverence and an experienced historian’s eye. The main exhibit traces the progression of rock ‘n roll from its earliest practitioners to today’s artists. A mélange of original handwritten lyrics, instruments, promotional materials, costumes, record albums and much more are arranged chronologically. Listening booths, video monitors, mini-theaters, a variety of projections and larger performance spaces present archival footage of musicians at their best. It was hypnotizing.
In contrast to many of the historical exhibits I usually favor, Cleveland delivered pure pleasure. It was a nostalgic, uplifting and thrilling experience that made me want to replay every vinyl record that Harry and I have kept since our college years.
Thanks to our family’s music listening habits and a few contemporary television shows and films that have used older music in their soundtracks, Mariah recognized a good percentage of the celebrated artists and their music. Of course, she was enraptured by one of Lady Gaga’s dresses and another worn in concert by Taylor Swift. No surprise there. They were lovely and I took the requisite photos of her standing beside them.
But let’s be real. Those dresses had nothing on Bruce’s dog-eared notebook containing his original handwritten lyrics to Born to Run. The real treasure was inside of the pyramid after all.