Tuesday, April 25, 2006

In Penny Lane...

In Penny Lane...

You know how I love a good icon. And you also know how I like boys with guitars. So...

Lennon's Roots

See the Blue Plaque in the corner of the picture? Well, they only put those up either after you've been dead twenty years or on the centenary of your birth (whichever comes first). So add all the clues together and you should be able to work out who grew up in that particular home. And indeed which band had their roots in the porch behind Cat and I.

And yes, I was surprised too that one of the greatest singer/songwriters of the 20th century grew up in such surroundings. Some how you never have that picture of John Lennon in your head, do you?

When I went to New York I walked past the infamous Dakota building where Lennon was shot and felt only the slightest shiver. On Sunday, in Lennon's bedroom, it felt truly odd. To walk those steps he had done so many times. To stand and sing a line in the porch where he and Paul used to practise when banished from the sitting room by his Aunt Mimi. To look out to where his boyhood tree house was and know that Strawberry Fields used to lie beyond. To almost hear the sounds of the girls who used to camp outside the house. To see everything he once was and a glimpse at what he would become. And - by value of its very ordinary nature, in a house that probaby isn't too far removed from the one I live in now - it was rather haunting. A refrain for a man who died before I was born and yet, emphatically, powerfully, overwhelmingly still lives in the lines of his songs and the sound of his voice.

After Lennon's suburbia the National Trust bus took us to McCartney's more humble beginnings. No Blue Plaque here of course, and the house didn't tingle quite as much with the man who had lived there but there were some brilliant, astoundingly beautiful pictures on the walls, taken by Paul's brother. And the pictures - of McCartney in a deckchair, of him and Lennon writing a song in the corner of the living room, of a young boy - not yet famous - climbing a drain pipe, were an immediate connection to a past that is once mythical and well known and yet simultaneously hidden and shadowy. Those black and white photos spoke eloquently of dreams and belief and a reality at once golden and slightly fractured. But, most of all, they proclaimed the power of those damn chords and everything they evoke and inspire in people.

Music. It's got a lot to answer for.


Val said...

I'm glad to see you're making the most of your NT membership - at least these suburban surroundings were a bit more 'you'!

cat said...

lovely entry our kid, you got me a little choked up. Mendips was a very strange experience wasn't it? not quite like being in church, but powerful and a little overwhelming, yet at the same time very, very ordinary. it made my heart ache a little, and I'm not even really sure why. maybe for that boy with a guitar, for all his hopes and dreams and for what they became, and for all the other boys with guitars that I have hopes and dreams for too.

Anne said...

Oh Corinne I am upset - you and the girls came to Liverpool and didn't let me buy you a drink!:(
You obviously enjoyed yourselves.
I'll see you Sunday! :)

cat said...

aww, don't worry Anne - we found someone else to buy our drinks ;-)

see you in the Boro!


Corinne said...

Val - well I am now, officially, Little Ms National Trust (I would write NT but that makes me think of the National Theatre *rolls eyes*)

My Big Sis [hey, does this mean I can borrow your things ;-)] - you made me go wibble. I think you're right, I feel oddly emotional about the whole experience.

Anne - I suspect we will be back in Liverpool in the not too distant future as we all seem rather taken with Liverpool. And then I'll hold you to your promise ;-)