Greg Harris, president and CEO of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, said he believes that if the world’s top places were narrowed to 100, the museum would still make the grade.
There hasn’t been a list I haven’t liked.
Best of lists. Shopping lists. Reading lists. And yes, even to-do lists. I like them all because there’s nothing more satisfying than, one-by-one, marking off an accomplishment.
So when my friend, Annaliese Ennis, came to me with her battered copy of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and a request for a road trip, how could I refuse?
With only months left before moving out of state, Annaliese wanted to check off all that Ohio has to offer.
What we found was a single entry: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.
The museum designed by architect I.M. Pei offers seven floors of pure rock. From exhibits explaining the roots of rock and roll to displays teeming with rocker memorabilia, the museum includes items from the iconic Elvis Presley all the way the English synthpop duo Erasure.
IF YOU GO:
■ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., Cleveland, 216-781-7625 and www.rockhall.com.
■ Open every day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Open every Wednesday until 9 p.m. Extended summer hours start Memorial Day.
■ Admission: Adults, $22; seniors (65+)/military, $17 (with ID); children ages 9-12, $13; children ages 8 and younger, free with purchase of adult admission.
■ New exhibit opening May 24: Rolling Stones: 50 years of Satisfaction.
On our recent trip, we mulled the photographs, instruments, and decades of Rolling Stone covers with visitors of all ages. Some drifted by the exhibits while others read every placard. Large screens projecting scenes from early concerts and interviews prompted some visitors to sit down and watch while others paused to catch a few guitar riffs and then moved along.
While many of the museum’s exhibits remain consistent, there are always new treasures to be found. This year they include a 1967 acoustic guitar from singer/songwriter Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics to “I’m on Fire,” and the 1985 Chevrolet Astro touring van used by the band Rage Against the Machine.
And then there are the types of features that you can’t see anywhere else, such as an hour-long, three-dimensional U2 concert that puts Bono and The Edge right in your face, literally.
Greg Harris, president and CEO of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, said he believes that if the world’s top places were narrowed to 100, the museum would still make the grade. That’s because, similar to the Mona Lisa in Paris, a song by Otis Redding or Bruce Springsteen is pure art.
“I’m honored and thrilled to be [in the book],” Harris said. “I feel we are here and people come here because rock and roll is the most powerful art form ever created. … It has brought us joy. It has brought us solace. It is the soundtrack for anyone born within the last 70 years.”
Harris noted that rock and roll has inspired millions around the world to think differently. He said that artists for decades have spoken through song on issues impacting our world.
“I believe that’s why [the museum] is in the book, because rock and roll has touched and impacted so many,” he said. “It’s a special place.”
After about four hours exploring every interactive display and dozens of bejeweled stage outfits — wow, is Mick Jagger short! — Annaliese was satisfied.
“The list gives me a place to start my adventures, places I would never think of going and things I didn’t know existed that could be close by,” she told me about the book. “I won’t likely see all 1,000 places but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.”
After exiting the museum into the cool Cleveland wind blowing off the Lake Erie shore, we became two more of the nearly 8 million people from around the world who have visited the museum since its opening in 1995.
Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die acknowledged that “there’s no rhyme or reason” to choosing the world’s best places. Some entries are chosen through recommendations, others through research, and still others are selected because “serendipity brings you to an obscure place” that you otherwise may have missed.
“It’s a very much an organic, growing list,” Schultz said in a telephone interview. “No sooner is the book published than it can be absolutely redone.”
1,000 Places to See Before You Die is meant to be only a “scratch the surface” of travel, she said. It’s a collection offered to inspire the average person to realize just how much there is out there to see, to taste, to experience.
“I’ve always been a music fan and I’m also a fan of architectural design so the [rock] museum is the perfect place,” Schultz said. “I searched it out and I had the most wonderful time. I saw the joy it brought to multiple generations.”
A travel writer by trade, Schultz published the first version of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die in 2003.
Since then, it has undergone a major overhaul during which some entries were consolidated into one — for example, the Art Institute of Chicago, Billy Goat Tavern, Arun’s restaurant, and Superdawg Drive-In melded into one destination: Chicago — and 200 entries were added.
But although I have the newer, color edition of the book and Annaliese still works from the original black and white version, one entry remains constant: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is still Ohio’s only entry.
Schultz said she knows that there are many more places in the world to see than the ones she had listed. Even seeing all 1,000 would likely take someone into their 400th birthday, she joked. But not every journey has to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mongolia — although she does have that slated on this year’s agenda. Instead, travel adventures can be found on a weekend or simply down the street.
Enter another version of the book: 1,000 Places to See Before You Die in the United States & Canada (Workman Publishing, 2007, 2011, $19.95). Within these pages there is plenty to see within the Buckeye State.
There is Cincinnati Chili to eat, Hocking Hills to hike, the islands of Lake Erie to enjoy. In total, Ohio has 14 destinations or experiences listed.
“That was the fun of doing the U.S. and Canada book, being able to flush out more places because now I was working with a continent instead of the world,” Schultz said. “…Every weekend, really, Americans should be on the road. We have such a wealth of places.”
And, oh yes, I asked. What about Toledo?
“No, sorry,” Schultz answered, admitting she had never been to the Glass City. But she promised to consider it when working on another possible revision.
Although it took me nearly 10 years since its original publication to take on the ultimate traveler’s list, I have since vowed to do my best. So far, I can check off 84 destinations, experiences, and types of food that are listed.
Granted, that’s a far cry from 1,000 but I think Annaliese has the right idea — I can give it a try.