To take a line directly from Dave Grohl, this country is a sonic highway – one long path lined with various music meccas. For this week's edition of Five for Friday, here are five of the best and most iconic music destinations worth visiting.
This Alabama city is where some of the biggest and best hits were crafted and recorded. An old welcome sign even read (and still may read): "Welcome to City of Muscle Shoals, Hit Recording Capital of the World." The locale remains home to both FAME Studios, formed in the 1950s by Rick Hall, as well Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, founded in 1969 by the now-legendary rhythm section known as the Swampers. Muscle Shoals' impact still resonates with musicians today. To wit, the 2014 documentary Muscle Shoals, which features interviews with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Mick Jagger, Alicia Keys, Keith Richards, and many more.
Even before Prince's untimely death, fans everywhere wished for entry into his secret world. That opportunity has finally arrived, albeit due to dire circumstances. Paisley Park will soon be open to the public (some public tours were already granted, though others are delayed due to zoning complications). We all hope the mystifying bubble in which Prince lived, recorded, and performed offers a firsthand look into his life. The park will also be turned into an exhibit of sorts. Various artifacts and memorabilia are already displayed throughout the Chanhassen, Minnesota destination.
Located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, this iconic venue has remained a vital force within the music industry since it opened in 1961. The space even comes complete with its very own mission statement: "To protect, preserve, and perpetuate Traditional New Orleans Jazz." Additionally, Preservation Hall is home of the renowned Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which not only preserves traditional jazz but forges its future as the group travels to popular music festivals around the country. The members also teamed up with Arcade Fire for a David Bowie tribute parade in New Orleans and more recently joined Arcade Fire on stage for the latter's headlining set at Panorama festival this past summer in New York City.
The Strawberry Fields memorial in New York City is special in its own right, a space inundated not with carefully curated memorabilia from John Lennon's past but rather a place where others can contribute items of their own in memory of the late legend. A mosaic engrained in the pavement depicts a large peace sign with the word "Imagine" in its center. As for the park's carefully selected location, it sits directly across the street from the Dakota, Lennon's former home and ultimately, his place of death. Often times, guitarists line the benches surrounding the mosaic, performing renditions of Lennon and Beatles classics while visitors leave flowers in memoriam and as symbols of preserving Lennon's desire for peace.
Back in 1950, rock n' roll pioneer Sam Philips started a studio of his own: Sun Studio, in Memphis, Tennessee. Now deemed "The birthplace of rock-and-roll," this iconic recording space fostered hitmakers like Ike Turner, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and many more. It was originally called Memphis Recording Service. But because Sun Records shared the same building when Gary Hardy reopened the space in 1987, he chose Sun Studio – essentially merging the two entities as one. In 2003, Sun Studio was deemed a National Historic Landmark.