New exhibit at Newseum explores music's Influence in American history

There's a new exhibit in town with a little bit of rock and a little bit of politics.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Jimi Hendrix's Guitar, Bono's famous black jacket, and Bill Clinton's saxophone. These are just some of the items that can be found at the Newseum's latest exhibit, "Louder Than Words: Rock, Power, and Politics."

"These are the things that make Baby Boomers all tingly and excited," said Patty Rhule, a senior manager at the Newseum. 

On Thursday, Rhule gave WUSA9 a tour of the exhibit to give us a sneak peak of what the public would see when it opens on Friday morning. 

"We have John Lennon's electric guitar," she said as she pointed at one case. "The Beatles weren't particularly political early on in their careers. But in the late-1960's they decided they needed to make a statement. So with their album, Revolution, they started making a statement about the Vietnam War. And this is the electric guitar that John Lennon played." 

Rhule said that this activism in music has been a constant thread through history. She said often artists have had great influence over the population, on issues like civil rights, and anti-war. 

"I think music is really," she said. "Has the power to change minds in a way that someone just talking at an issue doesn't have. Music has a way of lifting an issue to a higher level."

At another case, Rhule showed us the black jacket that Bono wore at the 2002 Super Bowl, just months after the attacks of 9/11. As he sang "Where the Streets Have No Name," the names of the victims played on a screen behind him. 

"Music can have a role in uniting people after a tragedy," she said. 

Also in the museum is the famous white T-shirt and blue jeans of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" album. Rhule said that this song is often misunderstood as many. In reality, she she said the song focused on the hardships faced by veterans when they return from war. 

"That song has been," she said. "Is such a powerful anthem for our time." 

The exhibit showcases modern music as well, exploring how many artists connect their songs to movements like "Black Lives Matter." 

The exhibit will now be open until July 31, 2017. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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