One of the coolest (and most frustrating) things about music analysis is that there are truly no absolutes. Anything said really just serves as fodder for discussion. “Best” is meaningless and taste is subjective. You might think Metallica is the greatest metal band of all time, but I KNOW that Black Sabbath is. The beauty is that we’re both right. Art discussion is one of the only forums where two diametrically opposed viewpoints can both be valid. You could certainly never make a blanket statement that one specific song was the all-time greatest, because there are no set rules. There’s simply no way to defend an absolute when discussing art.
Now disregard everything I just wrote because:
“TRAIN KEPT A-ROLLIN’” IS THE GREATEST ROCK ‘N’ ROLL SONG OF ALL TIME.
It’s true. No song in the storied history of rock ‘n’ roll tops it for impact, influence, longevity or attitude – not “Johnny B. Goode”, not even “Blue Suede Shoes”.
The vast majority of rock fans know “Train Kept a-Rollin’” from Aerosmith’s tremendous 1974 version on their second album, Get Your Wings, and its permanent spot in their live set over the last 35 years, but “TKaR” goes way deeper than that. Aerosmith’s take on the song, while undeniably kickass, isn’t even the best version. As a starting point, let’s check out Aerosmith laying it down live in ’74 (turn this up LOUD):
Yeah, that’s one bad jam right there. A great big chunky riff and pile-driving beat – recipe for awesomeness. That doesn’t prove that it’s the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song of all time though, so let’s look deeper.
About 783 times a day we get asked the following unanswerable question: “What’s the single greatest piece of memorabilia in the Hard Rock collection?” Though it’s by nature a subjective question, there are a few pieces that are so mind-blowingly historic that they just might qualify for that rarified title. Let’s check out a handful of contenders from our interactive memorabilia website. Click on the photos to see these pieces in amazing detail and get more of the back story at our interactive memorabilia website. You can chime in on this discussion over at our memorabilia Facebook page.
How’s this for starters? Here’s an early draft of the Bob Dylan classic “I Want You” from his 1966 masterpiece Blonde on Blonde. An original Dylan manuscript is like a Shakespeare folio. It really is that culturally significant.
We’ve been gearing up lately for the grand opening of our newest cafe and it’s going to be pretty damn spectacular. In a few short weeks, we’re unveiling our Seattle location. Opening in Seattle is incredibly exciting, but it’s also pretty daunting. The Emerald City is one of the great American rock ‘n’ roll towns, so we know we’ve got to come correct. It can be difficult to select the proper artifacts for a city with the type of music scene Seattle has enjoyed since the jazz age, but we’re pretty sure we’re up to the task. Though we’ll have plenty of great pieces from our usual faves, like the Beatles, Elvis, the Stones and the Who, we’ve amassed a pretty great selection from Seattle artists to pay tribute to this great American city. Let’s look at a few here. You can also see each piece in it's full glory over at our interactive memorabilia website. Or at Hard Rock Cafe Seattle, when it opens at the beginning of February. Either one is an incredible experience.
A few months ago, we ran a piece about doing tech work on Jimi Hendrix’ 1969 Fender Stratocaster. Now this pristine axe is going to find a new home in Jimi’s hometown of Seattle. When it comes to music memorabilia, nothing is more iconic than a Hendrix Strat. Jimi used this one with both the Experience and the Band of Gypsies. All the wear on the lower bout is from Hendrix’ forearm. How cool is that?
From time to time, some of our more passionate guests will get worked-up over certain pieces of memorabilia in our collection and try to take us to task over them. Usually, this stems from someone assuming that a joint called the Hard Rock should exclusively display memorabilia that fits into their personal definition of what “hard rock” music is. Here’s the thing – our memorabilia collection strives (successfully, we think) to present a truly broad cross-section of music culture. If we only adhered to an “it must be rock music to qualify” ethos, not only would we have to purge pop-culture icons like Madonna or Michael Jackson from our collection, we’d have to lose every piece of memorabilia from before 1954. More importantly, we’d miss out on presenting some of the most unique – and most significant – pieces from the crazy and wonderful world of popular music. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things we’ve been asked about. You can also see a lot more of these kinds of items at our interactive memorabilia site. Let’s start with one of the most controversial pieces in our collection – the jacket Rob Pilatus of Milli Vanilli wore to the 1990 Grammy™ awards:
A few weeks ago, we ran a story about working on some legendary guitars in anticipation of a feature article in a major music publication. On Wednesday, the editors of Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines, Brad Tolinski and Tom Beaujour, came in for a visit and the opportunity to get some trigger time on these incredible axes. It’s always a blast to see peoples’ reactions when they first visit our warehouse, but when it’s a couple guys like Tom and Brad, we know we’re going to be in guitar nerd nirvana. To up the ante, Rick Gessner and Jeff DeHollander of Valvetrain Amps were kind enough to bring in some of their incredible custom amplifiers. Check it out:
L to R: Guitar World’s Brad Tolinski with Jimi Hendrix’ ’69 Stratocaster, Hard Rock’s Jeff Nolan with Billy Zoom’s ’54 Gretsch Silver Jet, and Guitar Aficionado’s Tom Beaujour with Country Joe MacDonald’s ’62 Gibson ES 355
Tom puts Paul Kossoff’s ’57 Les Paul Jr. through its paces. This guitar sounds amazing!
Lately, we've been digging through some of our most over-the-top artifacts from the world of country music. This week, let’s look at some of the coolest, most ostentatious pieces of wardrobe the universe has ever seen – NUDIE SUITS! As always, you can check out great stuff like this all over our interactive memorabilia website by clicking here.