In which I reminisce on one of the places I’ll remember all my life (though some have changed)
A year ago I made a pilgrimage up from London, where I was living at the time, to the holy musical mecca that is Liverpool.
This was a pilgrimage in the truest sense. Spiritual fulfillment for a believer of ten years. I experienced all the staples of quintessential northwest-English weather, including a torrential downpour which lasted a solid few hours (“if the sun don’t come you get a tan / from standing in the English rain”) and a bout of frigid Merseyside wind (make no mistake, walking beside the river in late January is like asking to have your hat blown clean off your head). I boarded a bus for a Magical Mystery Tour, where I visited each Beatle’s childhood home, befriended someone whom I still talk to regularly even though he lives halfway across the world, and sang a lot. I drank (with the aforementioned friend) in the original Cavern Club, which exhibits memorabilia, guitars, etc. from the many bands it has hosted over the years, and which was especially packed and lively on a wet Saturday night. I walked down Penny Lane, all the way to the storied barbershop.
I also observed the “Double Fantasy” collection at the Museum of Liverpool, curated by Yoko Ono herself, a retrospective of objects defining her and John’s time together mostly (but not exclusively) in New York. Ironic, I thought, that a fan who found herself in New York often enough during her stateside life to pay occasional visits to the Dakota and Strawberry Fields should get a glimpse of these objects by crossing an ocean. Such objects included John’s NEW YORK CITY T-shirt, his hard-won and much-disputed green card, several of his handwritten poems and sketches, and the ladder which featured in Yoko’s installation at London’s Indica Gallery in 1966—the ladder which brought them together after he climbed it and picked up a magnifying glass to read the word “yes” on a card on the ceiling. That’s the story, anyway. There was also a canvas outside the exhibit where museumgoers could write their wishes for peace. I used a green felt-tip marker. I count myself lucky to have been there during the collection’s brief stint on display.
So, what did forty-eight hours in Liverpool teach me, among other things? One: never underestimate the circuitousness of a bus route. Two: it’s only by growing up in a city which nearly drowns every other day that you’re armed with ideas for a song like “Here Comes the Sun.” Three: there are two types of Liverpudlians—those who care about the Beatles and those who care about the FC. And four: the cold is not a joke. Bundle up. It’s worth it.
Images: a highlight from the weekend of 26-27 January 2019