So there I was, crying on a Beatle’s Tour bus outside Strawberry Fields, trying to figure out what brought me to this point – the dreaded sudden public display of emotion.
We’d traveled to Liverpool to experience this fabulous city, after having missed it when we lived in London. We wanted to see The Dock, The Tate – we hadn’t even considered The Beatles. But ever the opportunists, we stumbled upon a Beatles Tour, and the guy offered us a deal. Well, we can never pass up a deal.
We’d managed to snag a prime upper deck seat, and James had just jumped off to snap a closeup of the iconic gate.
The music loop had cycled through – from “She Loves You” to “Hey Jude” all the way up to “In My Life.” And that was my undoing. An unexpected flood of memories and emotions washed over me.
There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed …
—“In My Life” by the Beatles.
What in the world was going on? I didn’t even consider myself a Beatles fan … but I obviously needed to rethink that attitude.
The bus had been winding it’s way through the streets of Liverpool where the Fab Four grew up and launched their stunning careers. And just as their neighborhood had inspired many of their lyrics, I realized that their songs and history were woven through my life story.
The Beatles took America by storm when I was a budding teenager, and young women were swept up in the screaming, crying frenzy that was Beatlemania.
I wasn’t a screamer – it was not allowed in my family. In a household of four girls, my mother had an ironclad rule that you were never permitted to scream unless you were in serious danger. My younger sister would always scream if I started to tickle her – an amazingly effective sibling self-defense measure. It only took me a few times to figure out that Mom would come running – fearing the worst – and then I was in big trouble.
Of course, my sisters swear that trouble was my middle name. As the firstborn, I tested all the boundaries … and my mother’s patience. So when it came to Beatlemania, there was to be none of that nonsense. In her book, guys with long hair and girls with short skirts were a recipe for disaster.
But their music has woven a timeline of significant life events throughout my formative years, into adulthood, and surprisingly, into my current life. These are my 9 touchstones:
1. I first held hands with a boy walking to school. I was in the band, carrying a heavy saxophone, and he offered to carry it and took my hand. I was smitten. In those days we carried transistor radios (the iPhone of the 60s) and this song was playing. You guessed it – “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”
2. The first time I kissed a guy was at a party in the basement of my friend’s house. He was the cool, new guy from out of town. Playing in the background was “If I Fell.”
3. I had just started taking French lessons when “Michelle” came out. How perfect. I could actually practice while singing a song I loved. I felt so sophisticated.
Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble,
Tres bien ensemble.
—“Michelle” by the Beatles
4. When the Beatles shocked the world with their last live performance in 1969 on a Saville Row rooftop, I had just moved from small town Ohio to big city Chicago – leaving all my childhood friends. Their theme of “Let It Be” seemed to encapsulate my young life to that point.
From then on, the members of the Beatles were flying solo, continuing to create iconic music with poignant lyrics.
5. In 1971, James and I entered university, young in love and thrilled with our newfound independence and free-thinking surroundings. That’s when John released “Imagine” and we were captivated by its anti-establishment lyrics and beguiling melody.
Imagine all the people
Livin’ life in peace …
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one …
—“Imagine” by the Beatles
When asked about the song and its meaning, John Lennon replied:
Anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic, but because it is sugarcoated it is accepted … Now I understand what you have to do. Put your political message across with a little honey.
6. In 1980 when John Lennon was murdered, James was in the hospital recovering from life-threatening Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever he caught while working in the jungles of Belize. Both events were a shock.
7. In 1990 we quit our corporate jobs in London, started our own business, and began the epic journey that returned to the US and our families. Paul sang “The Long and Winding Road” in the background – the anthem of our nomadic lives.
8. When George Harrison passed away in 2001 we had just embarked on our first Round-the-World Trip. We celebrated his life listening to our favorite Beatles tune “Norwegian Wood” where his exotic sitar captivated a generation.
9. And just last year when I shared some personal challenges, I referred to John Lennon’s beautiful tribute to his son. The lyrics of “Beautiful Boy” contain the famous Lennon quote:
Life is what happens to you
while you’re busy making other plans
—John Lennon, Beautiful Boy
Life really does come full circle.
Paul McCartney recently took a “Carpool Karaoke” spin around Liverpool with English comedian James Corden. What a delight! And it follows the same route we took. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat.
If you’ve never been to Liverpool it’s a fantastic place. Whether you take a ferry ‘cross the Mersey or sample a bit of Scouse (both an accent and fish pie), you’ll enjoy the marvelous Liverpudlian hospitality and vitality.
And you really should take the Beatles Tour – whether you think you’re a fan, or not.
Imagine Peace, Terri