Between movies such as 1977's Smokey and the Bandit and 1981's The Cannonball Run – both starring Burt Reynolds – I've long dreamt of hitting the open road with adventure at every turn. When the first film debuted in the late 70s, I was driving a 1967 Ram Air Oldsmobile 442. Of course, with that kind of equipment at my disposal, visions of cross country exploits were inevitable. Alas, it wasn't to be. Jobs, money, a switch to a Toyota Celica and a fear of going to jail derailed those fantasies for good. Or so I thought.
Lo and behold, I now have a chance to live out that dream… sort of. Come Sunday, September 23, I am embarking on the 2012 Fireball Run: Northern Exposure, along with three other teammates. The only difference between this adventure and those on-screen antics I was so captivated by is that we can't speed. The Fireball is more like a game of Trivial Pursuit for eight hours each day, for a week, in a moving automobile traveling a circuitous route from Independence, Ohio, to Bangor, Maine. It's not an exact facsimile, but I'll take it.
When he set his 1966 poem "Suzanne Takes You Down" to music for his 1967 debut album, The Songs of Leonard Cohen, the Canadian author-musician found a linchpin between the worlds of pop music and literature and empowered the emerging singer-songwriter sub-genre in the process. First recorded and popularized by urban folk performer Judy Collins, "Suzanne" drew melodically from cabaret and European art song, while its lyrics – inspired by a real woman (Suzanne Vidal), a real city (Montreal) and an imaginary love affair (Cohen's visionary genius) – transformed the everyday details of life into a hallucinatory religious experience. A gently arpeggiated guitar figure rolls like the cosmos around the singer as he murmurs a litany of observations – some crazy, some profound, all of them Suzanne. A contemplation of love and consciousness awash in an acoustic dreamscape, "Suzanne" stood apart from both the psychedelic hard rock and the protest songs of the late Sixties and endures, in hundreds of cover versions, as one of the most compelling songs Cohen has ever written. Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. Click here to watch Lou Reed induct Leonard Cohen, Cohen's singularly poetic Hall of ...
A leading music photographer, Robert Alford has had his work featured in Creem, Rolling Stone and People magazines and on television, album covers and liner notes. The extensive list of musicians he has photographed reads like a "who's who" of popular music, from AC/DC to ZZ Top. In this interview, Alford shares the story of his trip to Mexico with ZZ Top singer and guitarist Billy Gibbons, and the misadventures they shared along the way all to get the perfect photo. Robert Alford's photos are the subject of Just Can't Get Enough, an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland,Ohio.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer shares the story behind the Grateful Dead's performances at the Great Pyramid of Giza in 1978, including the dress vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux wore during one of the Grateful Dead's performances during the group's three-night engagement and the artwork created by Kerry to commemorate the occasion. Both items are featured in Grateful Dead: the Long, Strange Trip, on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, through 2012.
For its fifth album, 1984's The Unforgettable Fire, U2 switched producers, turning from the crisp style of Steve Lillywhite to the moodier ambiance of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" was the record's most galvanizing performance, with the band wailing and Bono singing with fiery resolve. The Edge's shimmering guitar chords precede a frenetic rhythm figure; later he adds a trebly modal guitar run. But it's Larry Mullen's explosive drumming, particularly the way he drives the band into the chorus that gives the song its power. "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" is a tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King, though it celebrates all who expound the transcendent power of non-violence. The song marked the moment U2 stepped out of Ireland to address the world at large. The band's next album, The Joshua Tree, would put the world at its feet. U2 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 by Bruce Springsteen (watch Springsteen's induction speech here). Click here ...
In 2012, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart sat for an interview at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was on hand to perform and help open the Grateful Dead: the Long, Strange Trip exhibit. In this clip, Hart shares the story of when he first saw the Grateful Dead perform, before he was a member, and how an invitation from founding drummer Bill Kreutzmann to come by a practice session eventually led to Hart's first live performance with the band at the Straight Theater in San Francisco. "I had never heard their music," says Hart. "And then we started playing and hours later it stopped ... And Jerry [Garcia] said, 'We could take this around the world. This is the Grateful Dead.'"
The U2 Conference will hold its second meeting for an international gathering of scholars, critics, teachers, and fans in collaboration with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, April 26-27, 2013. The keynote speaker is Ann Powers, popular music critic for National Public Radio. The inaugural 2009 meeting drew a multi-disciplinary group from seven countries and featured more than 40 formal presentations, three films, and a weekend of networking opportunities. It also produced the edited collection of essays Exploring U2: Is This Rock ‘n’ Roll? (Scarecrow Press, 2011).
The 2013 conference theme is "U2:TRANS-," indicating an interest in U2 as going across, over, and beyond boundaries in rock and roll and working toward making moments of passing through or crossing over possible for fans as well as for the band itself. Conference organizers have posted a Call for Presentations and more details at www.U2conference.com
September 7, 2012 would have been Buddy Holly's 76th birthday. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, Holly recorded a catalog of songs – "Rave On," "Peggy Sue," "That'll Be the Day," "Oh Boy!" and "Maybe Baby," among them – that are rock and roll standards. He was born Charles Hardin Holley (later amended to "Holly") on September 7, 1936, in Lubbock, Texas, and learned to play guitar, piano and fiddle at an early age. Holly was an innovator who wrote his own material and was among the first to exploit such advanced studio techniques as double-tracking at Norman Petty’s recording studio in Clovis, New Mexico. He pioneered and popularized the now-standard rock-band lineup of two guitars, bass and drums. In February 1955, Holly opened a show at the Lubbock Youth Center for Elvis Presley, an event that hastened his conversion from country and western to rock and roll. ("We owe it all to Elvis,” he later said). Between August 1957 and August 1958, Holly and the Crickets charted seven Top 40 singles. While the wealth of material he recorded in that short time made a major and lasting impact on popular music, it ...