This past February my lovely wife surprised me on my birthday with a planned vacation – ALL ABOUT ME. My reward for turning a half century old included us visiting Cleveland. Yes, Cleveland. I can’t tell you how many times I was asked, “Cleveland? Why Cleveland?” after sharing the news with others, about the generous birthday present I had received, before our impending June departure. The answer to that incessantly proposed question is easy: because Cleveland rocks! The Ohio city is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and as a former music store owner, music connoisseur veteran, and Rock and Roll historian (I aced my Rock and Roll History class during my one year of community college) it makes perfect sense that I would desire to one day wander the esteemed museum’s halls.
There’s an immediate aura of greatness when entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The phenomenal facility exudes energy and excitement. There’s also an overwhelming feeling of unity amongst the sea of assembled fans; People of all shapes and sizes, age, and color have come together in celebration of Rock and Roll. The sizable, uniquely designed building boasts seven levels filled with all things music related. Inside the remarkable museum is the complete history of Rock and Roll and how it relates to the world. There’s also numerous exhibits and displays, countless memorabilia, and a few mini-theaters that continuously show video clips of those who’ve been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The first theater my wife and I just so happened to enter was showing some footage of my beloved Prince, so we quickly found a couple of empty seats and nestled into them with anticipation. Seeing my all-time favorite performer on the big screen was surreal. I was fraught with mixed emotions as I watched the recently passed, enigmatic superstar wailing on his guitar. Not even my wife was aware (until now) how close a teardrop, balancing on the rim of my right eyelid, was from toppling over and trickling down my cheek. Thank goodness the auditorium was dark.
Prince’s accomplishments and contributions to Rock and Roll are extensive, but The Hall also recognizes the “Rude Boy’s” significance in how the Parental Advisory labels on recorded music came to be in 1985. The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) was a committee whose goal was to slap warning stickers on any music they deemed too sexual, violent, or drug related. The organization compiled a list, known as the Filthy Fifteen, which included the most “objectionable” songs during that time, and Prince was on it for his sexually explicit “Darling Nikki.” Supposedly, PMRC committee member, Tipper Gore, had found her 11 year old daughter singing the words to Prince’s less than wholesome song when she decided the government should intervene to prevent minors from listening to such “filth.” (Here’s a novel idea: maybe parents should better monitor their children’s choice of music rather than getting the government involved.) The results of the mandatory Parental Advisory labels were far from what the PMRC had intended. In fact, there was an increase in sales of Rock and Roll music after the warning stickers were introduced.
I know there’s been some pushback over the years concerning Rock and Roll music. I’m well aware Elvis Presley was initially banned from The Ed Sullivan Show due to the King’s inability to control his swaying hips. However, I did not realize the extent as to how long it has been going on or how relentless politicians have been in their attempts to silence Rock and Roll. It does appear politicians and the music world have mended some fences in recent years though. The saxophone that former President Bill Clinton played, during his first presidential campaign in 1992, is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Clinton became somewhat of a “rock star” after integrating music with the political world. The unlikely partnership between the two entities has flourished ever since. I’m not too keen on government officials attacking the music industry, but I certainly don’t care for entertainers publically endorsing politicians either.
After 6 hours of leisurely roaming The Hall (bless the missus for humoring me that long) I decided I had probably had my allotment of all the sights and sounds the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had to offer. My wife and I then set out for a nearby duct tape event. The aptly named Duck Tape Festival was precisely what one might expect from the event’s unambiguously titled celebration. The Duck Tape brand festival featured all things duct tape. There were seemingly endless rolls of every color and design imaginable of Duck Tape for sale, duct tape crafts for the kiddos, and several famous landmarks crafted from the sticky stuff. My field of expertise is not critiquing works of art, but I must say the Eifel Tower, Liberty Bell, and Mount Rushmore displays, concocted almost exclusively out of the “fixes everything” product, were truly sights to behold. “Mt. Duckmore,” an amusing and clever replication of South Dakota’s magnificent landmark, included Trust E. Duck, Duck Tape’s mascot, sculpted alongside the carved busts of the four former U.S. Presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt.
The Duck Tape Festival was interesting enough (and FREE), but we were actually there to see the evening’s musical guest (also FREE). The event ended with a performance by 80’s MTV darling, Lita Ford. The Heavy Metal queen began her set over an hour and a half late, but it was worth the wait (at least to me). It was a little hard to complain since the price was right (FREE). FREE is good. Besides, attending a Rock and Roll concert just seemed like the perfect ending after an entire day spent at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cleveland? Absolutely!