Song of the Week – Cleveland Rocks, Ian Hunter

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I finally got to Cleveland to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last week. It lived up to my expectations with tons of cool memorabilia to check out. We spent 5-6 hours there and easily could have gone back the next day to do it all again.

(BTW, Cleveland may get a bad rap, but I found it to be a very nice city. It was clean, has beautiful architecture and artwork, and there were lots of people out for the ballgame versus the Yankees or getting dinner and drinks.)

Of course the city of Cleveland has been all over the news for the past 24 hours due to LeBron “King” James’ decision to return to that city instead of renewing his contract to play basketball for Miami.

So with all this Cleveland stuff running through my consciousness, I’m taking the easy route and making Ian Hunter’s “Cleveland Rocks” today’s SotW.

Conventional wisdom is that Hunter originally wrote the song in tribute to his home country, England, but changed the reference to Cleveland to help improve the city’s self-image. But the leader of Mott the Hoople has been known to tell the story differently in recent years, implying the song was written to give kudos to Cleveland fans for embracing Glam Rock ahead of the rest of the country. In an article by John Petkovic, of Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer, Hunter is quoted as saying:

“I was watching TV one night when this comedian starts making fun of Cleveland… Cleveland had the coolest rock fans in the country — I wrote ‘Cleveland Rocks’ for them, because they were always so great to me.

Cleveland was the first city in America to embrace Mott the Hoople… The East and West coasts had their heads up their [expletive], but Cleveland was hip to us and Roxy Music and David Bowie right away.”

The recording certainly doesn’t suffer from the help Hunter received from Mick Ronson on guitar, and the E Street Band’s Gary Tallent on bass, Roy Bittan on keys and Max Weinberg on drums.

A version of the song by The Presidents of the United States of America is probably familiar to many of you as the theme song to Drew Carey’s mid 90s ABC sitcom.

Enjoy… until next week.

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