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Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll: "A Day in the Life"

Wednesday, June 1: 4:20 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Beatles Sgt Pepper Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

A look at a few items from the Beatles on display inside of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

It's virtually impossible to overstate the initial impact of "A Day In The Life". Not simply a climax to the revolutionary Sgt. Pepper's album, its position following the reprise of the title track separated it from the preceding concept.  To many listeners, the Beatles seemed to be saying that was an act. This is where it gets real. Oh boy...

The piece originated as a John Lennon composition with the working title "In the Life Of..." It took shape at EMI's Abbey Road studios early in 1967.  Lennon had a stunning beginning and end, but no middle. McCartney, in an unrelated effort, had already written middle. His 'woke up, fell out of bed' fit perfectly between Lennon's halves. "A Day in the Life" is thus a Lennon/McCartney composite rather than collaboration.  In that spirit, McCartney donated another loose jewel, the ethereal tag 'I'd love to turn you on'. The material dictated equally adventurous recording. Consider the majestic, seemingly eternal piano chord which draws song and album to a close. As John, Paul, Ringo Starr and ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

Tuesday, May 24: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Bob Dylan Times they are a Changin lyrics

As detailed in Clinton Heylin's biography Behind the Shades, musician Tony Glover visited Bob Dylan's New York apartment in early October 1963 and stumbled across the lyrics to a new song, "The Times They Are A-Changin'." When Glover expressed reservations about the line "Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call," Dylan countered, "Well, you know, it seems to be what the people want to hear."

Dylan had recorded a publishing demo the previous month and recorded the song officially on October 24. Though the Times They Are A-Changin' album wasn't released until mid-January 1964, Dylan performed the song in concert throughout the fall of 1963.

His ambivalence about the song colors his divergent recollections. Discussing "The Times They Are A-Changin'" in the notes for the mid-Eighties Biograph retrospective, Dylan stated, "This was definitely a song with a purpose. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and for whom I wanted to say it to.... I wanted to write a big song, some kind of theme song, ya know, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way....I had to play this song the same night that President Kennedy died. It ...


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Finding John Lennon's "first real major piece of work"

Thursday, December 3: 4:23 p.m.
Posted by Ivan Sheehan

The Beatles and John Lennon In My Life lyrics Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland

John Lennon called "In My Life" his "first real major piece of work." 

The song started as a long poem about the bus ride from his Aunt Mimi's house in suburban Liverpool, where he grew up, to the dockside area of the Mersey River. The poem listed Lennon's beloved childhood haunts, including one locale familiar to Beatles fans: Penny Lane.

"The words were almost irrelevant. 'In My Life' started out as a bus journey from my house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning every place I could remember," said Lennon in a 1980 interview. "I wrote it all down and it was ridiculous... it was the most boring sort of 'What I Did On My Holiday's Bus Trip' song, and it wasn't working at all. But then I laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about the places I remember. Paul helped with the middle-eight."

And though Lennon variously referred to "In My Life" as his, the elegiac reverie on life and love, a poignant reflection on what matters most, the essential fragile translucence of things caught in a Beatle melody was so beautiful that neither John nor Paul would ever agree on ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, The Beatles, History of Rock and Roll

Did the Vietnam War Have a Soundtrack?

Tuesday, November 24: 1:52 p.m.
Posted by Doug Bradley

The Animals We Gotta Get Out of This Place Vietnam War songs

Doug Bradley, author of DEROS Vietnam, has written extensively about his Vietnam, and post-Vietnam, experiences. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in March 1970 and served one year as an information specialist (journalist) at U.S. Army Republic of Vietnam (USARV) headquarters near Saigon.

I first became a soldier in a war zone on Veterans Day (November 11) 1970. It’s an irony I’ve wrestled with for 45 years, due in part to the precise timing of U. S. Army tours of duty in Vietnam, which meant that Uncle Sam would send me back home exactly 365 days later — on November 11, 1971.

Needless to say, the date is etched in my mind and will always be. It’s personal, of course, but in a way it’s lyrical, too. I say that because my earliest Vietnam memories aren’t about guns and bullets, but rather about music.

As my fellow “newbies” and I were being transported from Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base to the Army’s 90th Replacement Battalion at Long Binh, I vividly recall hearing Smokey Robinson and The Miracles singing “Tears of a Clown.” That pop song was blasting from four or five ...


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Singer/Songwriter Eric Roberson's Touching Open Letter to Smokey Robinson

Wednesday, November 4: 6:13 p.m.
Posted by Eric Roberson

On Saturday, November 7, 2015, Eric Roberson will perform as part of the Rock Hall's Music Masters tribute to Smokey Robinson presented by Klipsch audio. Get your tickets before they're all gone!

singer songwriter Eric Roberson Rock Hall 2015 Music Masters tribute to Smokey Robinson concert

Motown was like the soundtrack of my household. That's pretty much all we played, so I was enormously familiar with Smokey Robinson, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, as well as all the Motown stuff that Smokey wrote.

He was my first example of a songwriter. Period. Not only was he an artist that wrote for himself, but he wrote for all these other artists. And there were all these hits, and it was like, man, this guy is like really working towards the betterment of music, and the betterment of like lyrics.

So as I grew and got into poetry, got into music, I was very much a student of Smokey Robinson, very much a big fan of a lot of his songs that he created, and just all the things he was doing.

It really helped me when I got into the industry and became a songwriter and was pretty well-known and was trying to become an artist as well, most of the labels ...


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5 Must-See Items in the Rock Hall's New Paul Simon Exhibit

Tuesday, December 23: 11:15 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

After countless hours researching, interviewing Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Paul Simon and collecting for Paul Simon: Words and Music, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum lead curator Craig Inciardi shares some of his favorite things in the new Paul Simon feature exhibit, which opened October 30, 2014.

What was Paul Simon's first guitar? Stadium acoustic guitar played by Paul Simon

1. Paul Simon's First Acoustic Guitar
All musicians get their start somewhere. On his 13th birthday, Paul Simon received his first guitar as a gift from his father Louis Simon, who was a musician. His father taught him a few chords and Simon quickly realized that many of the popular songs from the 1950s – the ones he was listening to – used the same chords and patterns. He and childhood friend Art Garfunkel began to write songs using those voicings. The first song they wrote using the Stadium brand acoustic guitar was called “The Girl for Me.” 

2. Letter from Paul Simon to Art Garfunkel
Paul Simon wrote this letter dated August 13, 1957, when he was attending summer camp in Bellport, New York.  Art Garfunkel was at different summer camp in New Jersey, and it was a pivotal moment in their young lives. They had been singing ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Inductee, Hall of Fame, Exclusive Interviews, Paul Simon

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Work With Me Annie"

Monday, November 18: 4:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Hank Ballard and the Midnighters

Born on November 18, 1927 (some sources note 1936), Hank Ballard wasn't the first to write smutty songs, but he was one of the more determinedly single-minded to exploit what he called the "raunch groove." His "Get It" was about, well, getting it. The title was startling coming after "The Shrine of St. Cecillia," the previous release by the Royals (as Ballard and the Midnighters were known prior to being labelmates with a "5" Royales). Its success, however, pointed the way. Ballard hit his stride with "Work With Me Annie," which is not about working. Reportedly toned down from its first draft, "Annie" still didn't leave much to the imagination: “Annie, please don’t cheat/ Give me all my meat / Oooo-weee / So good to me /Work with me, Annie / Let’s get it while the getting is good.” Needless to say, it went to the top of the R&B record charts in early 1954 despite being banned by the FCC. In a 1987 interview, Ballard recalled: "But [controversy] made the record hot. All that carryin’ on. 'What is this record about?' 'You can’t hear it on the radio – banned!' I tell you, in the Boston area ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Today in Rock, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

The Rolling Stones Spend "Some Time" Together with Ed Sullivan

Thursday, October 24: 3:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Rolling Stones' get risqué and suggest "Let's Spend the Night Together"

Tonight as part of the 18th Music Masters series of events, Alan Light will present a keynote lecture at Case Western Reserve University's Ford Auditorium that will look at the triumphs and challenges of the Rolling Stones' longevity. Light is the former Editor-in-Chief of Spin and Vibe magazines, a frequent contributor to The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and the author of The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah.” This event is free and reservations are not required.  Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The event will be live streamed here.

Although Ed Sullivan vowed never again to have the Rolling Stones on his show after their first appearance in 1964 – the same year the impressionable group of twenty somethings first landed on American shores, making a pilgrimage of sorts to Chess Records in Chicago – the popular TV host knew a ratings boom when he saw and heard it. Putting aside his resentment for the "unkempt" appearance of the Stones and the raucous audiences they attracted, Sullivan would welcome the Stones on his program five more times in the Sixties, where they'd perform 17 of their ...


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