“Play It Loud” Exhibition at the Met
INTRO: The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens its newest exhibition on Monday. Instead of the usual fine art or sculptures they are displaying instruments from one of the most transformative movements in American history – rock n roll. Stephanie Horton visited the member preview of the Play It Loud exhibition and reports
HORTON: Guitars encased in glass line the white-walled gallery. You might think these guitars would be museum-quality and untouched. But these are the relics of the rock n roll life.
PARRSH: Look how beat up it is man – they worked man they really worked.
HORTON: Mick Parrish is a 31-year-old musician who recently moved to New York. He is touring this exhibition with the kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for kids on christmas morning. He stops in front of a guitar. It’s a worn acoustic played by Wanda jackson with a leather strap and the neck is warped. It’s not pretty but for Mick the uniqueness makes it even more special.
Parrsh: No it doesn’t look like any other guitar.
HORTON: What does it look like?
PARRSH: T loos le a different guitar from any other guitar and t has her name on t.
HORTON: Ths exhibition exists for people like Parrish. He sees these instruments as part of something much bigger. A history which he says he reveres. Glenn Altschuler is the author of All Shook Up: How Rock and Roll Changed America.
ALTSCHULER: instruments were integral to rock and roll not only because they produced the sounds of roc n roll but because they were props n the performance. Guitars for example were frequently thought of and used as phallic symbols.
((musc up: johnny b goode rff))
HORTON: When rock n roll first appeared parents were alarmed. Artists Chuck Berry to Elvis Presley spurred a nationwide controversy.
((johnny b goode}}
.HORTON: The panic from roc n roll is long gone. Today its legacy is respectable enough for major museums. Max Hollen is director of the Met. He says the collection collection is right at home among the Greek and Roman statues.
HOLLEN: The Met has probably the greatest collection of musical instruments n the world so we’ve been researching instruments for decades. On the other hand ths s a show about rock n roll which s a culture a lifestyle that changed the 20th century. What we wanted to show was really the truth the instruments that encapsulate that.
At the center of the exhibit a glass case surrounds a stage with a band’s instruments. It’s the complete stage set of the 60s rock band The Who. Mick Parrish stands quietly staring at the drums, gleaming black, silver, with neon paint. He says these instruments hold a special place for him.
PARRSH:This is mutually where we meet. This is our altar.
HORTON: This exhibition isn’t about the pomp, it’s personal. While being able to see the
Pete Townsend’s smashed Les Paul guitar s really cool the people flocking to The Met might be looking for that limitless feeling. The kind they feel when they play their favorite song. The Play It Loud exhibition opens on Monday and continues until October 1st.
SOC Stephanie Horton Columbia Radio News