Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Road Trip of Pure Imagination: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

I suppose the question now, is - if my plan all along has been to travel the world and see wondrous things, why would I start it at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?  Why Cleveland of all places?

I don't know.  Because of my Dad, probably.

All of my earliest memories are music.  When I close my eyes and try to think of what it was like when I was very very small, I picture myself dancing in the kitchen while Dad played folk songs out of a book.  Or standing in front of my parents' bedroom mirror, mouthing along to Elvis Costello and Don McLean; Mom tells me the first song I ever learned was "Can't Buy Me Love" by the Beatles.  She says she would find me sometimes, singing the only word of the song I knew.  "Lo-ove Lo-ove.  Lo-ove..."  But the first song I remember is "Veronica."

Or sitting very still on the waterbed while the records played.  My sister and I had to be very careful when the records came out - too much bouncing around at we could scratch the disc.  If we wanted to listen, we had to sit.  If we wanted to play, we had to go downstairs.  Sometimes he would set out the record sleeves, and we could look at the pictures while the music played. 

He made me a mix-tape, once, and I nearly played that thing 'till the tape broke.  I don't remember everything that was on it, now - truth be told, I'd forgotten all about it until recently, when it all came flooding back in a wave of nostalgia one night as I was trying to fall asleep.  But I remember the mix was...diverse.  It had John Mellencamp singing "Rave On," The Ventures, both versions of Cindy Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," and Little Richard covering "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider."  I loved that tape.  When I got my first Walkman (yes, Walkman!  Welcome to the 90's, folks!), I would hide my headphones under my pillow until the lights went out, then let the music play me to sleep.  I don't remember what happened to that tape.  I probably threw it away when I was a teenager, and had long forgotten how important it was. 

There was another tape.  Not the same one, I don't think, but he'd put it in to play whenever he had to drive me and my sister anywhere.  It never took us long to get anywhere back then, so I don't know if we ever made it past the first two songs.  We'd make him laugh by belting along with Whitney on "And I Will Always Love You," and mumbling the words to what we affectionately called "The It's The-It's The" song, named for that one moment when the backing vocals beats Michael Stipe to the chorus of "It's The End of The World As We Know It."  All of this would lead to me shocking one of our day care workers with a passing reference to Richie Valens.  We all knew "La Bamba" at that point, but how many of us knew the voice behind it? 

When I was three I knew the sound of Bob Dylan.  When I was five, a cardboard mock-up of Costello's "Spike" album used to scare me away from our study.  I feel like I've seen every documentary that's ever been made about The Beatles - I could probably name their catalogue back to front if I needed to.  I dutifully sat through "The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack" in the theater, even if we do still give my Dad grief about owning it on DVD.  And though I can't say that my taste in music mirrors my Dad's, I also can't say that I wouldn't be a straight Top 40 listener if it hadn't been for the yesteryears of sitting very still on a waterbed, listening to records play.

So the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just seems like the logical first step. 

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