«This is not here» is written on the front door shown in Imagine’s video and reproduced within the Beatles Story. But, just landed at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, you have the feeling that “This must be the place,” as they sing the Talking Heads, this must be the place.
The English city overlooking the Mersey River, which flows into the Irish Sea, celebrates 50 years of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the most important album of 20th-century music history, which projected pop into a new dimension of popular culture, elevating it to visionary and imaginary art. Liverpool is the Beatles town, every tile talks about them, in every corner of the street you can hear the notes of their success, without having to force to get to Penny Lane or Strawberry Field. There are still the barber shop and the bank sung by McCartney or the legendary green and red wrap that delimited the park where Lennon was playing as a child.
Mathew Street is Cavern Street, the famous place where the Fab Four played it 292 times, as it has been repeatedly claimed between the walls inside. But more than a road looks like a time machine seen: every square meter is occupied by pubs and venues where the notes that have changed the history of several generations and the whole world resound. There is room for the Beatles before the Beatles or Elvis, Chuch Berry, Bill Haley and Eddie Cochran but not only, as you can hear, not without alienating discouragement, even a hit of the day as Despacito. This jumping in the past ends at the intersection with North John Street, where, in addition to the then Beatle Store dedicated this time to Sergeant Pepe, the Hard Day’s Night Hotel is inspired by the story of the group with the statues of the four overlook the windows of the first floor.
Continuing to Albert Dock, the port area, the strong point of the local economy up to the Beatlemanian tornado, the waters of the Mersey River are reflected on the skyscrapers of the modern era, blending with constructions of a clear Victorian style. On the waterfront of Liverpool, the strip of museums (the Tate Gallery, the Mersey Side Maritime Museum, the same Beatles Story) breaks the most commercial and tourist part of the city, dotted with fish and chips, shopping malls, a new themed store on the group that faces Pier Head. Here in 2015 were inaugurated four statues dedicated to John, Paul, George and Ringo, relentless destination for pilgrims of the rock for the usual photos, a bit ‘as it happens on the streets of London Abbey Road.
Not far away, there is the starting point of the Magical Mystery Tour, the bus decorated on the colors of the album, released after Sergeant Pepper. In two hours, this giant bumper for the city at the heart of the group’s history: Fab Four’s houses, Penny Lane and Strawberry Field, St. Peter’s Church in Woolton, where in 1957 the first encounter between Lennon and McCartney (and in whose cemetery there is the tomb of Eleanor Rigby), the art school frequented by the band to the Cavern Club. Part two are worth the two private homes of Lennon and McCartney, the subject of an itinerary organized by the National Trust, a British circuit to protect sites of cultural interest. This particular tour almost resembles a visit to the Bethlehem Manger, with the guides that come to showcase the various rooms of the houses, including those in which they made their first hits as Love Me Do.
As Ringo Starr wrote in the song dedicated to his city: “Liverpool I left you, but I never let you” It’s a bit of what happens to a traveler in the city of the Mersey River, even 50 years away.