I was right – the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had enough color to make up for the permabrown of Ohio and the rest of Indiana. We arrived in Cleveland, which I keep wanting to spell with an “a” in it, and promptly went for lunch at a place called Carnegie Kitchen and Dining. Now, having spent some of my formative tasting meals in New York, it is axiomatic that anyplace with “Carnegie” in the name probably isn’t going to suck. It didn’t. If you’re in Cleveland, stop in.
Lunch accomplished and eaten, we moved on to the Hall of Fame, for which the hotel runs a shuttle. Our shuttle driver gave us a block by block tour of the city for the entire mile it took to get there, which was by itself worth the price of admission. The folks taking tickets were also wonderful – possibly because it was a slow day – but instead of counting everyone by their “normal” age, they decided we should all have Rock-n-Roll ages. This lead to the Human Tape Recorder, otherwise an adult in the eyes of the ticketing system, being admitted as a child along with Number One Son, and the Reigning Queen of Pink being admitted for free. Hey, royalty is different.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is immense, and richly detailed. In addition to the underwear that Elvis stained on his third tour of some hotel outside Memphis on a Tuesday in July, they have the actual shirt that Joey Ramone was wearing when he took some drugs. (Mind you, that was most of them.) Also, they have all the keys from all the hotel rooms Timothy B. Schmidt stayed in while touring with the Eagles. (He evidently kept them all.) The collection of guitars was honestly incredible, and the videos around some of the exhibits were fantastic. The top floors were dedicated to the Grateful Dead, which was overwhelming even for those of us who like their music. It’s amazing.
One of the best parts of the whole meuseum was seeing the original notes from several – I think eight – songwriters, of songs that you would know. There’s Don Henley’s pen scratching out “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” Billy Joel’s hand editing “My Life,” and Joe Walsh’s surprisingly graceful script putting down the lines to “Life’s Been Good.” SOBUMD waved me over to make sure I saw the best, though – Warron Zevon’s original notes for the words to “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Some of you may know that I am a huge Zevon fan. For me, getting to see what he scratched out and changed in even one song was a terrific thrill. Plus, on the albums, I really can’t always hear exactly what he’s saying, so I was very glad to finally get to see *exactly* what that one word is, since I can’t understand it on the song.
Mind you, the word turns out to be “jizz,” but hey. At least I know. We are not surprised.
Another highlight was the Reigning Queen of Pink, on seeing Michael Jackson’s white glove: “Look! It’s the Doctor’s gay hand!”
Leaving the hotel the next morning, as we were attempting to check out, there was some confusion as FOBUMD and I both handed the clerk our keys. She asked which of us had our last name; we pointed at each other and remarked that we both did. She looked up brightly, smiled, and said, “Oh, brothers!”
“Yes,” I said, while my father was still getting his breath, “yes, we are!”
I used to hope I looked as good as and as young as he does when I’m his age. These days, I’m just hoping I see his age from this side of the dirt, you know? Anyway, I think he may have tipped her extra, once he stopped laughing.
Wheels up after breakfast, and we were Chicago bound!