There are Places I'll Remember
Trip Start Sep 07, 2007
11Trip End Oct 03, 2007
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There are places I'll remember
All of my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
Words by John Lennon
I arrived in Liverpool after a 2 hour train ride from Manchester so excited to be visiting the homeland of my musical hereos- The Beatles. The train ride was quite interesting as I was befriended by a guy who claimed to have met John Lennon and to be a musician. He looked like he hadn't slept in two days and was coming off a heavy night of drinking. He kept insisting that he show me the "underground" real tour of Liverpool and that any other tour is B.S. He kept me quite entertained but unfortunately was full of hatred for Bono of U2 and Paul McCartney for reasons that were very irrational. I didn't judge or discredit him in any way. In fact, I invited him to consider that the hatred he was feeling was perhaps due to an unresolved issue within himself that he has manifested in others and gave him the names of some of the books I have read that discuss this concept.
Now it was off to the hotel. I had booked all of my hotels the night before leaving so I had no idea where the hotels were relative to the main attractions of each city. It was too early to check into my room because it was not ready so I was thrilled to find out that the Cavern was only two blocks away. I left my luggage behind the reception desk and started walking to the Cavern prentending that I was going to see the Beatles and what it must have been like for people who were actually going to see them.
An overwhelming sense of euphoria filled my mind as I walked onto Mathew Street. There it was in all of its glory- The Cavern. The goose bumps got bigger as I slithered down the spiraling staircase of the all brick building not unlike the bomb shelters I had experienced in Normandy, France. In fact, it turns out that the Cavern was actually a bomb shelter at one point. I could not believe how far into the ground this famous club was but there are at least 6 flights down.
The first thing I noticed as I entered the club at the bottom was the colorful yet tiny little stage where it all began. Graffiti of bands who had performed there decorated the back wall of the stage and I later discovered that was one of the many unique qualities of the Cavern. TV monitors played footage of the Beatles playing as well as interviews while the sound of their music pulsated off the brick walls- giving the audience a sample of what it was like to hear the Beatles live at the Cavern.
Pictures of the Beatles and other famous bands adorned the walls as did the original posters announcing the gigs at the Cavern. Grafitti from all over the world was proudly displayed throughout the club as if it was a right of honor to have your name plastered on the wall. A beer was in order and as was my new tradition, I asked for a beer that I hadn't had yet. I believe that made it 20 different beers at this point of the trip.
The bartender was a friendly lad named Neil and another gentleman from Ireland at the bar named Frank compared whose goosebumps were bigger. We proceeded to talk about the Beatles, music, politics, sports and a variety of other subjects for close to two hours. The subject of Universal energy was also widely discussed as we were all present to the magic of the moment.
The Cavern Pub is another club that is right across from the Cavern and it features a musical museum of famous guitars and instruments throughout the venue. A fender strat that was signed by many musicians that played the Cavern was said to be worth 3 million pounds. Both places offer live music in the evenings and plentiful libations throughout the day.
I went back to the hotel, checked in and scurried off to the train station to catch a train to Birmingham to see the last Brian Wilson show of the UK tour. The show was by far the best of the three and fortunately I realized that at these ritzy, made for Opera- type venues, they don't sell the last three seats to the far right of the front row of the stage. I guess they feel that the view is obstructed. I had no problem with the view, sound or anything else from these "awful" seats. In fact, I had a bird's eye view of the happenings back stage from my vantage point.
After spending the night in a cheap Birmingham hotel, it was back to Liverpool for some more adventure. The city is actually very beautiful and very well- planned with old and new buildings scattered throughout the little sea port. In fact, Liverpool will be having a year long celebration in 2008 to honor being declared the European Center of Culture complete with performances from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and the grand opening of the Beatles themed hotel "A Hard Days Night".
Extensive construction is taking place all over the city to prepare for the big year.
I completed my stay in Liverpool with a tour on the Magical Mystery Beatles Bus of all of the famous Beatle landmarks and homes. The tour guide ended up being the bartender, Neil, that I met at the Cavern. I knew it was going to be a Magical tour when right off the bat he announced that he had just received a text message from his ex-wife that his long awaited divorce papers had finally arrived awaiting his signatures. Neil was estatic and offered to buy everyone a pint at the Cavern when the tour ended. Now on with the tour..... "Step right this way..."
One of the first stops was the famed Strawberry Fields where John Lennon would often go for peace and quiet from the craziness of life in Liverpool. The line in the song "Strawberry Fields Forever"- "there's nothing to get hung about"- was a reference to John 's Aunt Mimi who would often chastize John by telling him- "if you continue doing that they're going to hang you." No risk of a hanging at Strawberry Field.
Another memorable stop was a stroll down Penny Lane. The bank, the shelter in the roundabout and the barber shop are all still there and open for business should anyone desire. The childhood homes of the fab four were also a very special treat.
The tour ended at the Cavern and Neil made good on his promise of a pint for all. He also shared that he played the part of Peter Shotten, John's best friend, in the made for TV movie about the Beatles that was shown on NBC. The name escapes me but I look foward to ordering it when I get an email back from Neil.
My stay in Liverpool was exclamated by a visit to the Beatles museum at the Albert Dock in Liverpool down by the water. The area is simply breathtaking with an ancient Cathedral, waterside buildings and boats scattered about. Each room in the museum was dedicated to a particular era of the Beatles history and arranged chronologically. The guy that gave the Beatles away to Brian Epstein because he "didn't want anything to do with that rat pack" was tragically displayed along with the pictures of their initial audition for George Martin at which the Beatles played several songs in order to impress Mr. Martin. After they finished he lectured the boys for one hour on how to become professional and to receive a recording contract and at the conclusion of his lesson he stated "Now is there anything you don't like about the business?" George Harrison immediately chimmed in with typical Beatle humor " Yeah, I don't like your tie." Fortunately, Mr. Martin had a sense of humor and thus began a musical relationship that has been unparalled in history.
The rest of the museum was spectacular with rooms dedicated to the Yellow Submarine and Sgt. Pepper eras to name just a few. Needless to say, my trip to Liverpool was complete and I was so happy to have changed my trip schedule to be able to stay in Liverpool longer.
Now it is off to London on a 3 hour train ride through the countryside of England as the journey continues................................................... .......