I had originally decided not to spend the $20 admission fee to go to Liverpool’s most popular museum, The Beatles’ Story, but then I talked to my son who had seen it eighteen months ago. “Mom,” he said, “if I liked it as much as I did, you would love it. Their music was such a big part of your childhood.” That’s an understatement, and I had forgotten just how much their music meant to me until I entered the museum and heard the first tune.
I haven’t listened to the Beatles much in the past few decades. My husband is not a big fan, and I don’t want their music to become intolerable to him. I’m at risk for musically overdosing as well; I listened to their music so often when I was young. I remember watching them on the Ed Sullivan Show when I was only seven years old. A year later my dad bought me the Beatles fourth album while he was away on a business trip. I treasured it – my very first vinyl at eight years old.
Despite listening to the Beatles almost exclusively as I was growing up, I didn’t know much about them. For example, I didn’t realize that they were only together about eight years (the start- and end-dates are a little fuzzy). I’m sure it seemed longer because they generated so many mega-hits. They were amazing songwriters, not only the Lennon-McCartney duo but George Harrison as well. I didn’t know how they all met. I had heard something about a drummer before Ringo, but didn’t know the details. I didn’t know their long struggles to get their first recording contract, or what an impact Brian Epstein had on their lives. His death may have been the beginning of the end for their life together as a band. I never fully understood why they broke up… until I went to the museum.
I can’t look at the Abbey Road image without feeling achingly nostalgic, and I’m not the only one. A 20-something-year-old woman I used to work with used it as her screensaver. When I approached her desk one day and saw it, I exclaimed, “Oh, are you a Beatles fan?” She rolled her eyes and said, “Why does everyone keep asking me that? I don’t know their music. I just like the picture.”The Beatles were the soundtrack to my childhood. I know most of the lyrics to most of the songs, and every song seems to be tied to some vivid memory. I left the museum close to tears, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was nostalgia and the knowledge that you can never return to such simple times when memorizing the lyrics to a favorite song was all that mattered. But mostly I was awed by their talent and feel so fortunate to have lived when they were creating some of the best music ever written.
By the way, happy birthday John Lennon. He would have been 73 today. Very weird to be in Liverpool this morning when they mentioned it on the radio.