It has been pretty freezing ass cold in NYC these past few weeks. But I don’t think you could have asked for a more beautiful mid-winter day on Sunday, and it certainly was perfect weather to uncover your head, strip down to maybe one or two layers and make the trip down to Soho to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex. Because it is no secret that I like to Rock. Geoffrey snagged a few discount tickets on Goldstar, so I met him and his friend Susie outside the Annex and we got ready to rock like nobody’s business.
Our visit began in a small theater with a fifteen minute film featuring live performances and notable quotes from many of the artists ensconced in the HOF. My favorite clips were The Beatles, The Who and The Doors. They did show a live clip of Queen (I saw them five times back in the 70s), but it was from after Freddie Mercury cut his hair off and started looking like one of the Village People. So it did not yank my chain quite as hard as it would had it been one of those satin-jumpsuit-wearing Freddie clips. Anyway, when I saw Jim Morrison in his leather pants singing, “Come on baby, light my fire,” like the immortal Sex God that he is, well, I got a little teardrop.
Once you leave the theater all revved up for the Rock, you’re given a pair of Sennheiser wireless headphones that play songs from whatever artist is featured in the exhibit you’re standing closest to. For me, this made all of the difference in the world. I must tell you that when I stood in front of a display case that held Jeff Beck’s guitar while “Beck’s Bolero” blasted in my headphones, I felt kind of immortal.
While I really loved seeing the vintage stage costumes once worn by Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, Janis Joplin and Prince, one of my favorite exhibits was the NYC Punk Rock area. There’s a touching homage to The Ramones amid a number of artifacts salvaged from the late CBGB’s – including the club’s awning, tables and chairs, sound system, phone booth and whole sections of the graffiti and sticker-encrusted walls – that now form a sort of living tableau. It was totally cool. The Annex also hosts rotating “Special exhibits” – the current one being a rather comprehensive overview of the history of The Clash. Now, I am a huge devotee of first wave British Punk Rock as exemplified by bands like the Sex Pistols, The Damned and Generation X, but I am not one to get wet over The Clash. I could listen to “Clash City Rockers” and “Janie Jones” all day long, but they really lost me completely at Sandinista. In April, the Clash exhibit will rotate out to make room for an exhibition on the career of John Lennon. I will likely make a return visit to check that out.
Overall, we had a total blast. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex is so well worth a trip for fans who can remember back when Rock Stars were Gods, albums were worth paying for and going to a live concert was a magical experience rather than an inconvenient, expensive pain in the ass. Long Live Rock!