Sunday, May 27, 2018

Roll Up for the Magical Mystery Tour - Penny Lane

Roll up roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up
That's an invitation
Roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up
To make a reservation
Roll up for the Mystery Tour
The Magical Mystery Tour
Is waiting to take you away
Waiting to take you away

Time to board that big yellow psychedelic bus and hit the streets of Liverpool to experience the earliest days of the most famous foursome in music history, the Beatles.
British Beatlefan Paul Askew had previously taken this tour with our friend Martin Brewer, but he happily agreed to take Clan Cook back for a sequel.
We set off early and encountered the heaviest rainfall yet of our entire trip, but thankfully it ended within the first 10 minutes of the official tour itself.  And besides - NOTHING was going to put a damper on this pilgrimage for me - I've been waiting years to experience this trip down the Long and Winding Road of Beatles lore

I can show you
That when it starts to rain
Everything's the same
I can show you
I can show you

The tour provides a tour guide replete with an armada of Beatles trivia, plus a tambourine-playing driver, both of whom added to the overall experience.
And a fun trivia fact?  The guide's brother is Holly Johnson, frontman singer for Frankie Goes to Hollywood - so of course, he told us to sit back and Relax!

First up on our rolling soundtrack, was natch, the Magical Mystery Tour itself

But if you want to ride the bus, you've got to have the aforementioned ticket, so...

The first "stop" on the tour was Ringo's neighborhood, where we didn't dismount but merely passed through.

Ringo grew up in Admiral Grove, a property in Dingle, Liverpool.  As most Beatles followers know, Ringo was a very sickly child, and missed quite a bit of school, so he was taught to read and write at home.  Ringo was actually born on nearby Madryn Street in 1940, but the neighborhood was devastated by the German bombing of WWII.  His parents separated when he was three, and he and his mother moved into 10 Admiral Grove, where he lived for the next 20 years.
An interesting tour note - Ringo's birthplace was set to be demolished in 2010, but local groups called for its preservation and the National Trust collected nearly 4,000 signatures to preserve the home and its adjacent buildings.  The property is inacessible, and still not reopened or restored.
Ringo's mother was a barmaid here at the Empress, which was featured on the cover of Ringo's first solo album, Sentimental Journey.
Our bus then ran the route of one of the most famous roadways in music history, Penny Lane.
Hearing the tune blaring overhead as we drove down the actual street itself?  Priceless.

In February 1967, the Beatles released what is still considered the greatest one-two punch of a single ever released - Penny Lane on one side, with Strawberry Fields Forever on the B Side.
It was written by McCartney in his music room at 7 Cavendish Avenue, near Abbey Road Studios (see previous posts).
And remarkably, Engelbert Humperdinck's Release Me would thwart the single from making it number one on the charts.
In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he's had the pleasure to know.
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say hello.
James Bioletti, the barber who once occupied this barber shop and cut Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison's hairs when they were children has since passed on, but the barber shop remains, and welcomes tourists and yes, has pictures on the wall showing some of the Fab Four's moptops getting their hairs cut.
In Penny Lane there is a fireman with an hourglass
And in his pocket is a portrait of the queen.
He likes to keep his fire engine clean,
It's a clean machine.
The fire station is actually located on Mather Avenue, a few blocks from the heart of Penny Lane, but near enough to Lennon and McCartney's homes to factor in as they would pass by it on their way to Penny Lane itself.
Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And tho' she feels as if she's in a play
She is anyway.
The shelter is now abandoned, but once served as the Penny Lane Bus Terminus.  The greatest songwriting tandem in music history would often meet at the terminus to catch a bus into the city's center.  It later became a Beatles themed cafe/restaurant.  Now?  It's abandoned.
On the corner is a banker with a motorcar,
The little children laugh at him behind his back.
And the banker never wears a mack
In the pouring rain, very strange.
Here's the bank.  Sadly, we didn't encounter the banker.
Next up was a visit to George's place of birth, on Arnold Grove, a tiny dead-end cul-de-sac packed into a tightly populated neighborhood a few blocks off Penny Lane.
12 Arnold Grove is still inhabited.  George, the youngest of the Fab Four, was born here in February of 1943.  It was named after Queen Victoria's husband, Albert Grove.
Remarkably, the street is still unadopted, meaning residents have to make their own arrangements for things like waste disposal and maintenance, rather than receiving the services provided by the local authorities.
Leaving Ringo and George's neighborhood, the bus started meandering over to the other part of downtown, where John and Paul would begin making history together
St. Peter's Church Hall in Woolton, Liverpool is where Lennon and McCartney literally met one another for the first time, on Saturday, July 6, 1957.  Lennon's band the Quarrymen Skiffle Group was getting ready for a church dance evening performance when the match made in heaven was arranged by a mutual friend.  The 20 minute encounter would change music forever.
Across the street lies the grave of one of the Beatles most famous characters
Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for
Eleanor Rigby was the B side of Yellow Submarine, another one-two blockbuster tandem!
In 1984, it was pointed to Paul that there was a headstone in St. Peter's Graveyard in Woolton, across the street from where the pair met.
It was then believed to have been planted in McCartney's subconscious, as he and Lennon would frequently cut through the cemetery as they meandered around Woolton.
Eleanor who worked at City Hospital in Parkhill, Liverpool,was born in 1895, and died at the age of 44, in 1939. 
All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?

Next stop: the place where Nothing Is Real

No comments: