When you’re a young music fan, and you discover The Beatles for the first time, there’s really nothing quite like it. It’s a magical experience and some of the most surreal music listening you’ll ever participate in. When I was about 11, I heard The Beatles for the first time, and my life changed forever. There were bands such as The Strokes, that as a kid made me want to learn and play the guitar, but hearing The Beatles made me envision something completely different. I dreamt up actually making music, writing songs, forming a band, studying music, and making music a large part of my life.
After I heard them, I started collecting their albums. Each album would keep me occupied for weeks. Each album was so different and had a totally different sound and atmosphere to the last. When you’re in your room at 11 or 12, and you save up chore money for a Beatles album or receive one as a birthday or Christmas gift, the first listen is a ritual. I would run to the computer, burn the CD, run to the couch or my room, put my headphones in and indulge. You do not really appreciate moments like these till you’re older, and the same goes for how good the music was. I would sit there, listen to the songs, stare at the cover and the gatefold and the little booklet that came with it. I would observe their hairstyle at the time, what clothes they were wearing, what they were singing about; it was always an experience.
I still remember the first Beatles album I ever got– “HELP!”. It was a birthday gift, the only one I received on my actual birthday that year. I remember we had a party before my birthday on the weekend, and I got lots of gifts, but I did not get the Beatles album I asked for. The only album I’ve ever asked for at that point. I did not know an album could be a physical thing you could wish for and then enjoy. I remember I woke up that morning for school, and my mom surprised me with a card and the CD. I was so happy, somehow none of the other elaborate gifts at that time (probably video games, Legos– whatever I was into at that age) meant as much as this little piece of plastic. I remember listening to it, and at that young age thinking, “I didn’t know every song on an album could be good”. I was searching for the bad ones but couldn’t find them.
Several years later, music is the biggest part of my life, all thanks to The Beatles. The Beatles were a gateway to bands and sounds somewhat like them and completely like them. Funny how I’ve grown out of several things over the years, but The Beatles have remained a constant love for me, and they still surprise me to this day. They will never get old, and that is a very special thing in life when you discover something that never ages but remains a timeless love. So, my point is, when I was a young kid listening to Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, I would close my eyes and picture these magnificent surreal places full of color and beauty. A sort of mysticism built up around these places, I pictured them as beautiful and vibrant as the songs about them were. Finally, in May 2019, I went to the birthplace of The Beatles and got to visit all these places myself. I went to Liverpool.
I had not done a solo trip since I’ve been abroad, but my friend Dave suggested it was something I must do at least once. I know several people that have done it, and some claimed it gives you a nice sense of freedom, but can often evoke feelings of loneliness and isolation if you stay too long. I thought Liverpool would be the perfect place to take a solo trip. I was dying to go, and it seemed like I had friends who wanted to join, some Beatles fans and some not, but I couldn’t wait any longer, so I just spontaneously booked it one day after seeing how cheap it was to take a train there.
I knew this would be the perfect place to take a solo trip for many reasons. One– I have total freedom to see all the sights that I want to see. Two– no one can complain about their feet aching, or someone keeps having to go to the bathroom too often. And three– I could geek out and be a nerd over The Beatles sights by myself. I imagine if I brought my non-Beatles friends they’d say, “Penny Lane barber shop, so what? I see barber shops every day”, to which I’d respond, “This isn’t just any barber shop! This is the one Paul sang about in Penny Lane, you know? The part with the barber has the photos of the heads in the window, everyone he’s had ‘pleasure to know’- ah you guys just don’t get it”. I could avoid this if I traveled solo. Also, I’ve met some other Beatles fans abroad who seem to be big fans, but I wanted to have some alone time where I can just stare at the gates to Strawberry Fields with my headphones in, play the song, and not have to worry about not keeping them enough company. I’m coming off quite cynical, I know.
Either way, I took a train to Liverpool on Thursday, and the first thing I did when I got to the city was walk to my Airbnb in a nice little neighborhood just near the pier. I set my bags down, and then I walked to the iconic clock tower building and saw the beauty of the pier. A beautiful Ferris wheel, plenty of ice cream trucks, a merry-go-round, and some breath-taking sights of the city and the ocean in the distant. Certainly, a place I could spend an entire summer. They even had a large area for an inflatable obstacle course, reminiscent to American Ninja Warrior or Wipeout. It was fun to watch in the morning as you enjoy a coffee, and see people struggle to complete the course as they are making constant splashes across the water. Anyways, I’ll get into that later. I then went to the Cavern Club, the iconic place where bands like The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Hollies, and many other famous British bands played before they took off. There was music in the walls when I entered, and I could feel it. I always read about it, and the stories it told, but being there is a whole other story.
When I entered, they had old posters advertising The Beatles and bands before they were famous, and a Beatles tribute performer was even playing. The ceiling was so low, it wasn’t too big, and it was just wild to see where they came from– where it all began. From the Cavern Club to stadiums for over 80,000 people. I hung out for a while and found the place to be really cool, but I soon went back up the several flights of stairs towards the Hard Days Night Hotel; yes, a hotel dedicated entirely to The Beatles. They even had statues of them all along the top of the hotel. I walked through it, viewing the cool pictures along it, the floors were titled Beatles songs and the rooms were titled their names such as the “John Lennon” suite.
I got a quick bite there and all the food and drinks were even named Beatles songs. It was my heaven. I then went to the Museum of Liverpool close to where I was staying and thoroughly enjoyed it. They had a John Lennon exhibition at the top for his solo years, and it was really emotional. His old instruments were around, there was a room with a white piano he played that only played the song “Imagine” in the background. It was really cool to see all of the love and affection the city had for John, and I even learned quite a bit.
After this, I called it a night and headed home for a day of full exploring– one that I’ll never forget. The best day I’ve had abroad, I think. That will all be explained in the next blog which will be part two. In the meantime, "All My Blogging" I will send to you.