Liverpool: The Beatles, Cemeteries, and New Friends, Oh My!

dsc_0389The program that I’m in offers many day/overnight trips outside of London to allow us the chance to see more of the country, other than just London. Yesterday, one of the day trips was to Liverpool, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit the birthplace of the greatest band of all time. The Beatles Story Museum was even included as part of the trip with the program. Needless to say, I was hooked.

The day started when my alarm went off at 6:15AM, waking my roommate and myself up for the first leg of our journey: getting to the train station by 7:45. After hitting snooze many more times than I probably should have, I finally dragged myself out of bed and even managed to put on makeup before we rushed out the door to grab some breakfast. I don’t know why IES decided to book us an 8AM train to Liverpool, but they did. Almost everyone on the trip slept on the two and a half train ride there, including myself. By the time we reached Liverpool, we were slightly more well-rested, our coffee had started to kick in, and we were ready to take on the day.

First, we had a two-hour walking tour of Liverpool. I didn’t know that Liverpool had been the major port city for England for a good portion of history, nor did I know it was actually the location of the final surrender of the American Civil War. It was nearly flattened by German airships in World War II, and The Beatles aren’t the only famous music act to come out of this city (though they are the most famous). There was a lot to learn, and Liverpool is actually so much more than a tourist hub for Beatlemaniacs and football (soccer) fans.

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Part of our tour took us down Matthew Street – the birthplace of The Beatles. It’s the street where the Cavern Club is located, where Brian Epstein first heard some scruffy teenage boys playing music late at night. Getting to stand next to the original entrance to the Cavern Club was something else. It’s no longer an entrance to the rebuilt Cavern Club, but it’s still got a sign detonating  where it used to be. So many famous and important people walked through those doors and stuffed themselves into that tiny, crowded room, just to hear some teenage boys who had bought their guitars on layaway play some of that “rock and roll.” It was really, really cool to stand so close to a piece of culture history that’s close to my heart. dsc_0256

Our tour ended at The Beatles Story – the museum that walks you through the life of The Beatles – from their days as The Qurraymen (sans Ringo), to their Hamburg days, to their “makeover” by Epstein, to the rise of Beatlemania to their tour of America, through their psychedelic writing of the Magical Mystery Tour & Sgt. Pepper, all the way through their breakup and individual solo careers and later lives. The section at the end was dedicated to John Lennon and all the impact he had on culture – especially with anti-war efforts in New York in the 1970s.

It is impossible to express my emotions about this museum. The Beatles have been a huge part of my life since middle school. Everyone has heard of The Beatles and everyone has their own story of how they impacted their lives. Here is my Beatles story:

I listened to The Beatles growing up – my dad loved classic rock, so I grew up hearing them. But I didn’t develop the love for them I have now until middle school. A good friend of mine (who I have since grown apart from), introduced me to “the original boy band” when we were thirteen. She told me, “I have this movie I want you to watch.” That movie was A Hard Day’s Night, and from that moment on, I knew there was something special about these boys from the 1960s who had long grown up before our time.

dsc_0301Later on, after that friend and I went our separate ways, The Beatles took on a more important role in my life – they helped me grow into the person I am today. It’s well known that I have a history of anxiety and depression (as I have been much more vocal about it lately), and The Beatles always helped me feel better back when it was bad. There was just something about the music that sometimes didn’t make sense to me that helped me feel worth it on my worst days. It wasn’t until high school that I understood the depth of what The Beatles were talking about – the revolution of peace and love and acceptance and understanding. They grew up in a country that was recovering from a war, my generation grew up in a country constantly at war. The Beatles got it. They knew that life was tough and the world was never going to be perfect, but all we had to do was “give peace a chance.”

There was something deeper to the music that had soothed my soul on my bad days. There was something more there, something that I hadn’t been old enough and mature enough to grasp until high school. Those boys hadn’t just been drug-addled hippies, as so many people like to generalize them. They were trying to make political statements and preach a happier and more peaceful world to everyone – young and old, men and women, American, European, Asian, African, everyone. It’s something my generation can only strive for.

But my appreciation and understanding of The Beatles would not be anywhere near where it is today without my best friend, Shelley. She has had many conversations with me about The Beatles, their cultural significance, what their songs mean, and how genuinely powerful a force this band was. She knew all of this because she grew up surrounded by The Beatles. Her dad is in more than one Beatles cover band, and she’s even named after a Beatles song (“Michelle”). Thank you, Shell.

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Getting to stand next to the (replica) stage at the (replica) Cavern Club: one of the highlights of my life and also Europe so far. 

Back to the museum…there was actually so much I didn’t know about The Beatles and their history before I went to this museum. Of course I knew about the basic things, stuff everyone knew, and a little bit more due to the fact that Shelley and I talked about The Beatles as much as most 1960s teenage girls did, but this museum had so much more. IES got us the audio guide to the museum, and that was so cool. We got the chance to hear some histories from Sir Paul McCartney himself, about the early years, we got to hear from fans who went to concerts and movie premiers, we got to hear it all.

Getting to walk through the life of this band that means so much to so many people (myself included) was an experience I’ll never forget. From sitting front row at the recreation of the original Cavern Club, to hearing John, Paul, George, and Ringo react to Brian Epstein’s death while standing next to a replica Penny Lane sign, to walking through a Yellow Submarine, to taking off my audio guide headphones in awe of The White Room (or, a recreation of The White Room, where John and Yoko filmed the music video for “Imagine”). Each moment of that museum reminded me that anyone can have an impact on the world – even four lower middle class boys from Liverpool. Sometimes, love is all you need.

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Still recovering from the emotions of standing this close to (a recreation of) John and Yoko’s “white room”.

After finally extracting myself from not only the museum but the museum shop, the group I was hanging out with decided to go for lunch. We made our way to a pizza place farther than I wanted (I was really hungry), but was so delicious. Literally, I had a chicken pesto pizza and it was probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I know I keep saying that, but the food here keeps topping itself. I can’t explain it.

Once we finished lunch (we were starving, it took no time at all), Cameron, Sabrina, Simran, and I wanted to go to the Liverpool Cathedral. Apparently it’s the fourth largest cathedral in the world, so who wouldn’t want to see it?

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Simran, Sabrina, and I just hanging out in a cemetery. (Photocreds: Cameron)

Unfortunately, by the time the four of us made our way there, we learned it was closed. Naturally, we decided to visit the garden. No one informed us that the “garden” was actually the cathedral cemetery. Nonetheless, my new friends and I took cute, artsy pictures (as one does in a cemetery, LOL), and walked around the gorgeous grounds for a little while. It was really great to get to make some new friends on this trip where I didn’t really have many. I’m excited about that.

We went back to the train station, about as exhausted as we were when we woke up that morning. I slept for a good portion of the train ride back to London, and went back to my dorm and went to bed. It was a long, but wonderful day.

TLDR: I went to Liverpool and got really emotional at The Beatles Museum, learned a lot of history, went to a cathedral cemetery, and made some new friends. Now I have to finish a project for my Media &  UK Politics class that’s due tomorrow.


lydia. 

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