Dan Talmo, co-host of Global Revolutions, takes us along again on some European adventures. First stop, England:
My wife and I have arranged a somewhat lengthy European tour based around the upcoming WOMEX conference (World Music Expo) in Spain in mid-October. In a few weeks, I plan to report on happenings at WOMEX 2016. Meanwhile, we make a stop over in one of the great capitals of international music: Liverpool.
We are just wrapping up a three-day Beatles immersion in Liverpool. It’s amazing the amount of music that came out of this city in the 60’s. (Give a listen to Gerry and the Pacemakers’ Ferry Cross the Mersey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08083BNaYcA). We did two of the main Beatles attractions and supplemented those with our own driving tour to other locales. We are staying at the Penny Lane Hotel – the “shelter in the middle of the roundabout” is just outside our hotel door.
We started our experience with the National Trust tour of John’s and Paul’s childhood homes. Both are kept in a “living” state, circa 1960, in active residential neighborhoods. With a side trip to the street-only view of George’s and Ringo’s homes, the modest beginnings of the Fab 4 are readily apparent. John’s Aunt Mimi’s house (where John mostly lived) certainly has the more middle class look and feel of the four, though still half of a duplex. The other half is for sale if anyone is interested. Standing in the same rooms where some of the great rock and roll classics were composed gave us chills. The rooms are very small and picturing John, Paul, George and others crammed and jamming in these small spaces had to be a fun time. (Paula got to play on Paul’s piano). We had a chat with a Paul-aged gentleman living in the attached row house next door, who said: “Don’t really care for them. Would rather listen to Count Basie and Duke Ellington. American big band music is what I like”.
We also toured the main downtown museum, “The Beatles’ Story,” which is very well done. With so much attention to detail, one can spend a day or two just reading the stories and checking out the rare photos and memorabilia such as mono reel-to-reel retail tapes of early Beatles albums and posters from fan-club mailings.
A highlight of The Beatles’ Story was the superb exhibit by photographer Pattie Boyd, the first wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton. The exhibit displays intimate photos of two great guitarists in creative moments and just kicking back. Her story and influence is one of the under-acknowledged parts of pop history.
A few other very striking parts of The Beatles’ Story (already known but brought out by this tour) are:
- The hundreds of tunes they covered before they came into their own as songwriters
- The hundreds of live performances in Liverpool and Hamburg before their first UK and American chart hits
- The short time span of their meteoric rise and life as a band – just six years between the Ed Sullivan Show and their breakup
Liverpool is a very welcoming, large, and vibrant city, but a visit isn’t complete without following a bit in the four lads’ footsteps.
(Photos and contribution by Paula A. White)