BY SUSANNAH CLARK
There, beneath the blue suburban skies, I stood on Penny Lane. After snapping pictures of the barbershop and keeping an eye out for a banker with a motorcar, I hurried across the roundabout to catch my bus. The Magical Mystery Tour was coming to take me away.
While studying abroad this summer in Manchester, England, I took a weekend off to make my pilgrimage to Liverpool, birthplace of the Beatles. I was following in the footsteps of my ex-hippie parents, who honeymooned in Liverpool in 1982.
Instead of the Holy Trinity, I was raised on the Fab Four. The Beatles sang my lullabies. They took a sad song and made it better. They were so much more than a band; they were a philosophy. As I toured the industrial alleys of Liverpool, I felt as if I was exploring my roots.
Liverpool has changed dramatically since 1982. When my parents went, the city was still unassuming and industrial. Now there are Beatles statues, countless giftshops, guided tours and an elaborate museum, not to mention the brand new Hard Day’s Night Hotel.
While in the early 80’s my parents were able to get by with a tour book and my father’s expertise, I caved in and purchased tickets for the “Magical Mystery Tour,” a haven for lazy tourists. The rainbow tour bus was equipped with giant speakers piping out Beatles tunes non-stop. We were encouraged to sing along and mime bass solos accordingly. Our tour guide had more original B-sides than friends. The tour covered all the bases: all four birthplaces, the church where John and Paul met, the park in where Ringo lost his virginity, etc. The crimson gate to Strawberry Fields was definitely something to get hung about. The tour ended appropriately, with a pint at the Cavern Club.
Acting out song lyrics has always been a hobby of mine, but I will admit my experience in Liverpool was far more profound than the time I made my dad take me to a Tastee-Freez so I could suck on a chilidog John Mellencamp style.
I will confess, during my stint in Liverpool, I was a bad tourist. I snapped pictures left and right, blew all my money on overpriced souvenirs, and made no effort to hide my American accent. While donning my Sgt. Pepper scarf, I broke just about every rule about “blending in” while traveling. I embraced my inner cheesiness. And I had a great time. When I came home from England, I pulled out my parents’ photo album of their honeymoon and compared their photos with mine. Though my photos were digitized and crystal clear, they still had the same reverence and heart as the grainy prints from the 80s. The Beatles still carry that weight 25 years later.
Maybe when I’m 64, my kids will go to Liverpool, and my digital pictures will be trumped by the clones of John Lennon and Paul McCartney they’ll be able to bring back home from Liverpool in 45 years. I won’t be jealous though. In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.