Friday 31 December 2010

30 years ago…John Lennon

Liverpool, 1964, tens of thousands of people thronged the streets from the airport to the city centre and stood for hours until a police escort led a group of large black cars with tinted windows past screaming fans.
It was the day four young men returned home. Liverpool has that sense of home, of belonging, and these men had been away, and they came home. In a city whose port has been for centuries the gateway to the world, a better world, anything had to be better, coming home safely in itself was something to celebrate.
How many of our brothers, fathers, grandfathers and uncles had left the Pier Head to land at the South Sea Shore, New York, in time of peace and war, some to make their fortune, some to be lost forever. The Beatles songs were only possible because of the music that travelled home with the sailors in their kit bags. These four men had travelled in style: BOAC planes and first class treatment all the way. And they came home.
Why the wait? It was  not only the songs, good tunes with clever lyrics carved out of the pebbles at the Dingle, it was not only the silly haircuts, we all thought they were naff but were too overwhelmed to say so, and the suits, no thank you. Brian Epstein wrote his own account of the tour in a Mersey Beat article:
For the first time, as it seemed then, someone from over here had gone over there and had really triumphed. Instead of English singers making cover versions of the real thing from across the Atlantic, here were John and Paul writing songs that people over there wanted to copy. And they were copying  lyrics with experiences and feelings that came from Lime Street, not Los Angeles, from the Cavern not from California, from cast-iron in your soul, not flowers in your hair.
The tunes got better later, the lyrics got cleverer, Paul brought in Linda, George brought in India, Ringo had a great time, and why not, and John brought in Yoko, found more songs, lost some weekends and went to stop making plans and live life the way he wanted, in luxury overlooking not Sefton Park but Central Park.
30 years ago today it came to an end, the might have beens, the songs, the concerts and reunions.
It was really not my idea to go and stand for hours in the street waiting to see them come home, but I’m glad we did. We had a child’s glimpse of a legend. The legend did not start 30 years ago today, it already had roots as deep as those of the oaks in Calderstones Park and foundations as secure as the Albert Dock.

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