The museum was well mapped out so it was easy to maneuver from one room to the next and among the six levels. And while there was so much to see and hear, everything about the experience helped me deepen my understanding of the importance of mentors in our lives. In almost every exhibit visitors could find something about the early influence of gospel and blues, and even hear current artists talk about those performers whose style and music helped to shape their own sound. I was reminded of the anecdote Shelley Harwayne tells about Paul McCartney’s acceptance speech for one of his Grammy awards where he thanked his mentor, Buddy Holly. We all need mentors in our lives whether we are children, students, artists, writers, or parents (to name just a few).
Throughout the museum I was awestruck to see on display the thinking and planning behind many of the songs that I love. On carefully preserved notebook pages with ripped edges, scraps of hotel stationery, or backs of envelopes, visitors could view handwritten lyrics or chord progressions in the artists’ own hand. They were messy, with words deleted and substituted, and perhaps questions scrawled in the margins. What a treasure to share with young writers! Although much of the writing I do now is done on the computer, I was reminded that my best thinking often comes from my notebook lists, jottings, and drawings. It is in a notebook that I can often flesh out an idea or find the essence of what I want to say.
If you ever find yourself in Cleveland, I would highly recommend a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You’ll discover a lot about music, and maybe just something about yourself, too.