Friday, April 1, 2016

The Fab Four

So here I am in Liverpool, on my Beatles pilgrimage. It certainly isn't hard to find references to the Fab Four in the city of their birth. There are Beatles cafes, Beatles shops, Beatles tours and Beatles statues. And why not? Although Liverpool was a vibrant shipping center and musical nexus even before they came on the scene, when the vast majority of people on the globe hear Liverpool, they think John, Paul, George and Ringo.

I myself took one of the aforementioned tours, with a likably garrulous taxi driver named Alan who regaled me with tales of the Beatles (and lots of other tangential stories) for almost four hours.

We certainly didn't miss anything. For example, we went to Penny Lane, which is an actual street, and we saw the bank, the barber shop, the nearby fire station and even the "shelter in the middle of the roundabout." You could get fish, and presumably finger-pies. Every lyric in the song came to life!

Beneath the "blue suburban skies," we visited childhood homes of all four Beatles. Ringo's birthplace is looking a little rough these days...

...but Paul's tidy childhood home is owned by the National Trust.

John's house is in good shape, too -- Alan, my guide, said it's still owned by Yoko Ono, though it is open to the public. George's is rather nondescript and still lived in by some poor inhabitants who have to put up with a bunch of nosey tourists.

We saw the church social hall where John and Paul first met...

...and in the nearby graveyard, the resting place of one of their most famous muses. (Apparently Paul McCartney has described other origins for the name in the song, but my guide thinks he's simply trying to protect this woman's peace and quiet.) There's a tombstone for a McKenzie, too, although there's no indication that he was a clergyman.

Strawberry Fields is a real place, too -- once a grand old house and then an orphanage, it burned down and was rebuilt as a rather bland-looking institution. And now it's closed completely. Beyond the gate are lots of weeds and a shuttered building.

After my tour, I had to go find the Cavern Club myself -- I suspect because the club owners are somehow associated with a competing tour. I didn't go in. Apparently it was demolished after the Fab Four played there and later rebuilt, allegedly with the same bricks.

It's not a Beatles song, but I just have to point out that there really are Ferries 'Cross the Mersey!

In the evening I went for a walk down by the waterfront, which is built up with a combination of elegant old wedding-cakey palaces devoted to shipping and industry, and sleek, modern museums and entertainment complexes. I found a pub and had a pint, and then found another pub where I intended to order dinner -- but despite large signs out front that said "FOOD," they did not serve food in the evening. So I had another pint, and then embarked on what proved to be a fruitless search, at 8 p.m., for a pub with food. I stopped in four or five before finally giving up and eating a sandwich from Tesco in my hotel room, watching an episode of "The Good Wife."


  1. Loved your photos...has been on my list to see since kiddom!

  2. I am glad that you were lucky with the weather on your first day in Liverpool. Nice to see the origin of "Eleanor Rigby". I didn't know that. Did you also spot a yellow submarine surfacing in the Mersey?

  3. You put a smile on my face this morning. It was fascinating seeing all those Beatle-related spots.
    I did travel to London as an adult about 15 years ago, but I lived there for a year in 1966 when my father picked up a gig at the Imperial Defense College.
    It was the height of Beatle time and all my friends were filled with envy. I wish I had gone looking for these spots then myself.
    And I when I was back in the states a boyfriend gave me the Jerry and the Pacemakers album with "Ferry Cross the Mercy."
    Wow, did you ever give me a walk through memory lane!

  4. You've been on Holy Pilgrimage!
    Thanks for sharing, Steve Reed. I think I especially loved the blue suburban skies...

  5. I know the Peacemakers song only because of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood cover. I couldn't care less about the Beatles.

  6. I love this post! All the those references to those fabulous songs! That really must have been a fun day. Well, all except for the dinner part.

  7. I loved this, Steve! Now I'm humming Eleanor Rigby and if the past is any indication I'll be doing so all day.

    I was a bit young for the Beatles at the time they broke onto the scene, but my brother, who was four years older, was well into their music and so it came into my life in a big way too. I should thank him for that someday.

  8. interesting but not something I would do.

  9. Fun! I love the blue suburban skies best :)

  10. Great tour and photos. Now you'll listen to all your old beatles tunes. I didn't listen to the Beatles when they first came on the scene but I certainly listened to them since.

  11. I forget which programme had that last building in its opening credits.

  12. What a great day out - and under that brilliant blue sky.

    I like the Beatles music but I would not especially go to Liverpool to see their sights/sites.

    However, you had the day you were looking forward to - in spite of the pub with no grub.

    Ms Soup

  13. I rather enjoy traveling with you, sir! Thanks for the tour!