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26th May, 2020

#PaperbackWriter - There are places I'll remember all my life, though some have changed

 

This instalment of our #PaperbackWriter series is from Ryan who has been a fan of The Beatles for 22 years. He tells us of his many trips to Liverpool, his first legal pint of beer in the Cavern Club and 'first dancing' to The Beatles on his wedding day.


It's probably one of my favourite memories of childhood; spending a rare family day out with my parents and brother. Unbeknown to me at the time, this was a day that would be seismic in terms of my music tastes, creative hobbies, and would even affect my wedding day!

A debt that I can never repay nor would I want to. The year was (probably) 1993, I was 12 years old and my Dad decided to take us for a day out to Liverpool. Being from Sheffield, UK, it's about a 2-hour drive and (as I was later to learn as an adult) it’s a brilliant day out / weekend away. I’d never heard of The Beatles until then. Ironically, as a child, I loved ‘Frog Chorus’ and Dear Prudence’ but not until many years later did I make a connection.

Entering the exhibition, I remember thinking ‘here we go’ like any teenager, my enthusiasm for museums wasn't exactly high, yet, little did I know my cultural appetite was about to be whetted by an introduction to a band that 20+ years later, I would still be in awe of. Even now, I can still clearly remember hearing ‘ I wanna hold your hand’ ‘yellow submarine’ and ‘imagine’ for the first time. To say I was hooked would be an understatement. My aunty (an original 1960s Beatles girl) gave a cassette tape of ‘Beatles love songs’, I went down to my local library and borrowed the back catalogues of albums, ‘Beatlemania’ had hit this awkward teenager with gusto.

As a child, my grandfather often told me stories about playing the trumpet in his army days, the piano, and even the drums. As a kid I realised I’d inherited a natural affinity with musical instruments, thumping the keys of my Casio keyboard became a real hobby. In music class at school, my teacher Mr Scott (also forever indebted) had heard me talking about The Beatles and gave me a listen to a song called ‘Norwegian Wood ( this bird had flown)’. I'd only known the mop-top pop songs at the time, this was a later phase of the boys' music that was completely new to me. Arriving at music college, I started to learn guitar, and of course, as my Beatles obsession grew, I gained a girlfriend, joined a band and began learning those Lennon & McCartney standards. For my 18th birthday, Dad sprang a day out to Liverpool on me and I drank my first (legal) pint of beer in the cavern club. I stood on the stage (you could back then) and looked around this historic venue and breathed in the culture. Buying a t-shirt, coasters, and posters is customary on Mathew Street, as is having your picture taken with the Lennon statue - my love of Liverpool began at this point. Several nights out in the town, a trip to Brookside Close even, countless gigs, Albert Dock, Empire Theatre, shopping in the Cavern Quarter, too many to mention.

Cultural gems aside, those four boys gave me a passion for music that’s never left me. I’d spend hours analysing Lennon's lyrics and McCartneys melodies in my music books (pre-internet days, no online tutorials then), and began reading the countless biographies, books, films and anthologies about the Liverpool lads. As Britpop exploded and Oasis idolised The Beatles, I suddenly became one of the cool kids at school, singing in a little beat combo myself. Great days, but I digress!

But of all these friends and lovers there is no one who compares with you…

Taking my first trip on the Magical Mystery Tour bus is also a memory of utter joy. Jumping on board, I remember this being the first time I'd seen those suburbs of Liverpool, Woolton, Menlove Avenue, the dingle; all the places that John, Paul, George, and Ringo grew up, real places to see! I was ecstatic and in music heaven!. I've seen the Bootleg Beatles several times live too, I've even got ‘The Beatles’ tattooed on my arm in italic writing! I wanted the logo but bottled it for some reason. With framed pictures on my living room wall, my family always knew what to buy me for birthdays and Christmas. As girlfriends came and went, day jobs changed, and things changed, as they always do. The one constant though has always been The Beatles. Like I said at the beginning of this piece, the boys played their part in the most important day of my life - my wedding day!


I met Sarah in the summer of 2013. It was like the first time upon hearing The Beatles all over again. Just as life-affirming and just as seismic. After a few years together we decided to marry. She knew within moments of meeting me that I was a huge fan of The Beatles. As opening gambits go it's a good one actually. She took an instant liking to a few of the pop classics, including ‘Fool On The Hill’ ‘If I fell’ and Lennon’s most beautiful ‘In My Life’, we decided upon the latter as the first dance on the big day!

An unparalleled moment for me in terms of emotion, a life-changing moment of course, and soundtracked by my love of The Beatles. And to top it off, can you guess where we spent our honeymoon? Yes, that's right - in Liverpool of course!

Some are dead, and some are living In my life, I've loved them all...

Dear John, Paul, George and Ringo,

Thank you.

Love always,

Ryan, from Sheffield (aged 38 and ¾)

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