I ended 2016 in Liverpool with my boyfriend and his family. On a foggy December day, we boarded a bus and drove around the city, learning the history of the history of rock & roll. I’m not the biggest Beatles fan, but anyone who discounts their music as uninfluential or superficial is trying very hard to sound sui generis. Whatever your opinion on the mop-tops, rock & roll as we know it wouldn’t exist without the crisscrossing streets of Liverpool.
We started at the famous docks in the historic port city where the Beatles Museum is located. Driving between the downtown area, we saw the park where John Lennon’s parents met, the houses where Ringo and George were born, Penny Lane, and Strawberry Fields (both actually real places!). We drove down the street where Lennon witnessed his mother be fatally hit by a car. We stopped at the graveyard that holds Eleanor Rigby (apparently unrelated to the song) near the church that turned down a young Paul McCartney for a choir spot, and saw the pub across the street from the arts college where John spent most of his time when he was supposed to be in class.
The tour ended at the Cavern Club, a club three stories underground, shaped like a tube station. I’m not sure what it used to be in a past life, but it’s been a hidden gem of Liverpool before The Quarrymen ever met. As the Beatles, the lads played here about 500 times over the course of two years.
Display cabinets built into the brick walls housed treasures collected over the club’s lifetime, including one case that housed three guitars, one sporting the signatures of Freddie Mercury and Brian May, one with Mick Jagger and the rest of the Stones, and the third boasting the name David Gilmour.
Say what you will about doo-wop, boy bands, and silly British teenage boys (and I’ll probably agree). There’s something powerful about three generations of people, from Brazil, the US, South Africa, the Philippines, and everywhere in between, all crowded in an underground cave in a rainy English city just to sing a song about holding hands that was written 53 years ago. Something that certainly qualifies as magical.
Have a Scien-tastic day!