“Only a Northern Song”
This is a list of those songs with significance to Liverpool. You can cross-refer the song with the appropriate part of Liverpool.
A Day in the Life
Despite everyone trying to pass this off as a song about drugs when it came out, it was about the bus ride that Paul would take in the morning on his way to school from.
Cast Iron Shore
In the song “Glass Onion”, John mentions standing on the Cast Iron Shore. This is a romantic title for a part of the Dingle Shore, nicknamed “The Cassie”.
One of Paul’s first songs, it was written before he and John met. It was an instrumental written on his first guitar. He recorded it in 1960.
Do You Want to Know a Secret
What was the inspiration? What was the secret? It was written in 36 Falkner Street.
Eleanor Rigby (see Woolton – St. Peters Church).
“Eleanor Rigby, died in a church and was buried along with her name, nobody came”. But now they do, to St. Peter’s Church in Woolton to see her grave.
Fool on the Hill
Paul wrote this in his front room at Forthlin Road whilst playing on the piano. It was very much aimed at those “Saviours” like the Maharishi who are often portrayed as fools.
A collaboration between Paul and John, this was a real mixture of their feelings at the time. Paul’s optimistic “It’s Getting Better” is contrasted with John’s pessimistic and acerbic admission of being an “angry young man” and a “wife beater” – something Cynthia admitted in her latest book, “John”.
Hello Little Girl
This was the first of John’s songs that the Quarrymen performed from about 1958 onwards. He maintained that the inspiration was the Cole Porter song “It’s De-Lovely”.
I Am the Walrus
This was a typical Lennon “nonsense” song, which had various influences.
I Saw Her Standing There
This one shows the collaboration of Paul and John. Paul had most of it worked out driving home to Forthlin Road in 1962. His first two lines were originally “She was just seventeen, never been a beauty queen” but it didn’t sound right.
In My Life
John wanted to write a nostalgic song about his childhood. He mentioned those places he remembered. These lyrics only came to light-years later. Each one mentioned has an explanation in this book.
Penny Lane is one I’m missing,
Up Church Road to the clock tower
In the circle of the Abbey
I have seen some happy hours
Past the tram sheds with no trams
On the bus into town
Past the Dutch and St. Columbus
To the Docker’s umbrella, that they pulled down.
In the parks I’ve spent some good times
Calderstones was good for
He also referred to friends both living and dead, which were Pete Shotton, and the late Stuart Sutcliffe. These last sentiments are the only lyrics that were never used in the final version.
Inspite of all the Danger
Credited to McCartney-Harrison, this is the first original song recorded by the Quarrymen at Percy Phillips studio in Kensington in July 1958.
I’ll Get You
This was the B-side to ‘She Loves You’ and was one of the few songs written by John and Paul at Mendips. John and Paul would often play in the front porch – it had good acoustics, and was one of the few places Mimi didn’t mind them playing!
I’ve Just Seen a Face (see Huyton: Dinas Lane)
This was one of Paul’s songs he would play for the family in Liverpool – known as Auntie Jin’s Theme.
Let It Be
Paul’s anthem Let It Be flashes up images of the Virgin Mary, and also of his own mother Mary, who he had lost at age 14 to cancer whilst living at Forthlin Road. He described it as one of his ‘semi-religious’ songs.
Like Dreamers Do
Written back in about 1958, the Quarrymen used to perform “Like Dreamers Do” which was one of Paul’s early compositions.
A short rendition of the old Liverpool Folk Song ‘Maggie May’ appeared on the Let it Be album. It was a standard song for al the skiffle groups, including the Quarrymen. The story is of an infamous Liverpool prostitute who plied her trade at Lime Street station, and was a perfect folk song that transferred nicely to the new skiffle scene.
Posthumous album of John Lennon songs named after the road on which Mendips is situated, where he lost his mother so tragically. John had remembered Julia in his songs “Mother” and “Julia”.
This song grew out of the “art parties” that were thrown by John’s art tutor Austin Mitchell.
John’s song is both moving and painful, following his primal scream therapy. It goes back to the event that probably defined his life. At the age of 5, he was made to choose between his mother and his father, after Alf had taken John to Blackpool. He stood by his father, but as his broken hearted mother turned and walked away, he screamed “Mummy don’t go” and then as he grabbed her hand, he turned around to his father and shouted “Daddy come home”, as all he wanted was for his mum and dad to live together again, and for them to be a family again.
Mother Nature’s Son
Influenced by his nature trips to the Dam Woods in Speke, and Hale Lighthouse, Paul’s love for nature was brought to the fore whilst in India. He then finished it at this father’s house in Baskervyle Road, Heswall. It was a love for nature that he developed whilst living in Speke, with the ability to go off into the woods, go bird watching or just cycle into the picturesque village of Hale, and be in touch with nature.
It was thought by Pete Shotton that this was John’s reference to both his unfaithfulness to Cynthia, and his recollections of those days in Gambier Terrace when he would burn the furniture in the fireplace, and ask guests to sleep in the bath! John slept in the bath on more than one occasion – though we can’t be sure how often he washed! However, the burning of the furniture is probably linked to their time in Percy Street before moving to Gambier Terrace. It was at this flat that Rod Murray, their flatmate, remembered, “At our last place we burned the furniture because we didn’t have any money to buy coal.”
Penny Lane (see Penny Lane)
Is there a more famous street in the world?
Please Please Me (see Allerton, Mendips)
John wrote “Please Please Me” in his front bedroom at Mendips, a place where he would often practice with Paul – usually in the front porch. John loved the homophonic “Please” and “Pleas” in Bing Crosby’s 1932 song “Please” with the line “Oh please, lend your little ears to my pleas” – written by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin. Julia would sing this to him when he was little.
Please Please Me of course would also become the title of their debut album.
John originally stated that Polythene Pam was a “mythical Liverpool scrubber” but it later turned out that it was a story about 2 people he had met. Pat Hodgett was a Cavern regular, and was known for her habit of eating polythene. She was known to The Beatles as “Polythene Pat”. However the person dressing up in polythene involved a girl he met in the Channel Islands, introduced by Royston Ellis, the beat poet friend of theirs.
Ringo’s first solo album features the Empress Pub on the front cover. The pub is on the corner of Admiral Grove where he grew up.
She Loves You
Many songs were written at Forthlin Road, including the finishing touches to She Loves You. Paul and John would eventually spend hours, filling schoolbooks with songs, with over 20 of them becoming Beatles tracks.
Strawberry Fields Forever
Discover the real story behind John’s iconic song
Working Class Hero
A Working Class Hero is something to be, sang John in one of his most famous solo songs. Working Class? Not a chance.
In the town where they were born, lived many men who sailed to sea. A model of the Yellow Submarine was made for the International Garden Festival in the 1980s, and now resides outside Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
Primarily a children’s song, this song could evoke memories of childhood for John, Paul, George and Ringo.
For the full explanation, you’ll have to read the book!