Paris, year 2000.
I was eight years old when my parents introduced me to The Beatles.
We were in the living room when the music suddenly started. My sister and I just couldn’t get enough of it, and we immediately started asking questions about this band we’d never heard of before. At least, not consciously enough to catch our attention.
The questions continued, and at one point my sister asked how old John Lennon was. This was the year 2000.
The “Imagine” songwriter had been killed 20 years before and my sister could not cope with this information. She shed tears, and could not stop. She had only known of The Beatles for a few hours, but the thought of having this beautiful music destroyed by death itself was too much for her.
A year later, in 2001, George Harrison would lose his fight against lung cancer. I will be, this time, the most affected by the news. In his memory, all the artists who had known him, including his son, Dhani, organised a special concert.
Now there were only two Beatles left: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
But my life with the four of them had just started.
Yellow Submarine wins over Cartoon Network
After that night, I couldn’t stop listening to Paul, John, George and Ringo. More than that, I needed to know all about them. How old they were. Who they married. When did they meet? What was the first song they wrote? Where did they live? Why did they split? I wanted to know all about them.
A few months into my Beatlemania, my dad came back home with Yellow Submarine. Not the album, but the film — more of a cartoon, actually — that The Beatles made.
For over an hour, the four of them need to save Pepperland from the Blue Meanies, as they hop in their Yellow Submarine. They go through different worlds, each illustrated by one of their songs.
Let’s say, at the time, I didn’t know they were in their LSD high and were experimenting with different drugs. I just saw it as great entertainment, filled with amazing music and colours. That helped me discover another side of their work. The side without all the famous songs. The side where women weren’t fainting the minute they saw them. No, I was an eight-year-old who was discovering good music through an amazing psychedelic cartoon.
And because I didn’t want to be selfish and keep The Beatles to myself, I tried to share it with my school mates. But unsurprisingly, not all schoolchildren at the time shared my love for a band from the 1960s.
Britney Spears didn’t have a chance against The Beatles…
That year, to celebrate Christmas — or maybe it was Easter, my memory is a little blurry — the teacher organised a party for the class. We were allowed to bring candies, cakes, and more importantly, the music we wanted. I had already turned my best friend into a Beatles fanatic, so I asked her to help me make everyone dance to “Help” that evening.
The problem was, everybody wanted to listen to Britney Spears and other famous singers from the noughties. For them, The Beatles were “has been”, “old”, “the music their parents listen to” or just “not as good as Britney”.
But I didn’t give up that easily. My best friend and I started dancing. We sang and tried to show them The Beatles were “cool”. But after the second song, the teacher nicely asked us to “let everyone have a go at the music”, and Britney was back on.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Britney too, and I still do. But at the time, I felt like I needed to pass on the Beatlemania and hoped that people would feel the way I felt when I listened to them. They made me feel safe. And they still do.
My parents got married when I was 9. For the occasion, my cousin and I decided to put on a show and of course, we could not do it without Macca. We — well, I — chose to create our choreography on “Junior’s Farm” by The Wings.
The Wings were Paul’s band after The Beatles, with his wife Linda, as well as drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarist Denny Laine.
Once again, I needed to leave my mark as the newlyweds first born child. And I couldn’t do it without Paul. Needless to say, it was a hit!
Paul McCartney: “Live and let see him play live as much as you can”
People will argue that Paul is not The Beatles. Let’s agree to disagree.
I saw Paul live four times already and cannot wait to see him on stage again in May.
The first time I saw him, I was 10. My dad was supposed to come with me but in the end, I went with his best friend. It was during his ‘Back in the US’ tour. I remember I was very impressed to see him in flesh and blood in front of me. But something was bothering me. At the time — still now — I was following his life updates, and he had just separated from Heather Mills, his younger daughter’s mother.
I focused on his face. Even though he’s one of the best showmen I have seen on stage, he looked sad. I remember thinking: “He must be sad to be divorcing his wife, even though it is the right decision.” The gig ended, there were maybe two encores, I got a t-shirt, and I went back home. I had just seen Paul McCartney for the first time.
Shortly after that, my dad came back with Ringo’s album, Ringorama. I was listening to it every morning. And when I couldn’t because people were still sleeping, I would listen to it on my way to school on my Walkman — yes, iPods and mp3s didn’t exist yet. “Eye to Eye” is still one song I would listen to when I need cheering up.
The second time I saw Macca live almost never happened. It was October 2007. I had told a friend of mine he was playing in Paris one Monday night, but it was a sold-out house. The only way to get tickets was to queue there the whole night before the gig. On the Sunday night, my friend told me he would do it for me. I felt so bad. I should have been the one out there in the cold. He wanted to get these tickets for my birthday — which was not before January, by the way — and he knew I loved Paul McCartney. The thing is, he had a heart problem, and I could not believe he stayed one chilly night out there just for me to see my idol… who I had already seen.
He called me around midday on the Monday to tell me I had to come. They would not hand out bracelets for people who had not queued (fair enough). I hopped on a cab and went to the venue. But once I arrived, I could see they would not let people get in the line. People were being told off, kicked out. You had to deserve your spot. And obviously, I hadn’t done anything for it, except love Macca’s work with all my heart.
But my friend told me to cut the line anyway and join him. I had red jeans, the security guy would see me for sure. But I joined him and nobody said anything. I got my bracelet. I could not believe it. When I asked him what he did, he said he told the guy I was agoraphobic and could not be with that many people around me. Ironically enough: it is true!
That night, I heard “Blackbird” for the first time.
The third time, I must have been 18. I had just graduated from high school and wasn’t very happy with what I was studying. When I saw Paul was coming back to Paris, I was at a friend’s house and asked her if she wanted to come with me. As her birthday was coming up, I didn’t have to search for a present anymore: I had the perfect gift. My mother and my sister, though, weren’t happy I didn’t ask them first if they wanted to come with me. By the time I let them know, the show was sold out. Let’s say I was a selfish angry teenager.
The fourth time, I made up for it. I told my mum and we made it a family night. Every time I get to see “Live and Let Die” live, with the fireworks on each side of the stage, my heart explodes. Moreover, he puts on an even better show each time and honours all his pals: George, John, and even Hendrix.
And then, I moved to London.
I have travelled to London quite a lot before I decided to settle here. I even studied there from 2015-2016. And every time, I had to go to Abbey Road. I even left my name on the walls, thinking Paul would maybe see it. I know, such a stupid thing to imagine but I still have hope.
I went on Baker Street and to The Beatles shop, always to get out with a magnet, a pair of socks or a sweater. It just made me happy. At that point in my life, it brought me back to my childhood, to all their films we would watch together as a family before my father passed away.
One day that I did not know what to do with myself, I took a stroll in Hyde Park. I was alone, it was cold, it must have been mid-November. I was walking through the park with my film camera and put my headphones on, music at random, when “Golden Slumbers” started playing. I think I had never heard the song out of the whole compilation it is part of on Abbey Road. It was the first time I acknowledged how beautiful this song was on its own, not followed by “Carry That Weight”. I looked at the sky, smiled and I shed a happy tear.
“Golden Slumbers” officially became my favourite Beatles song. It is only 1:33mins long, but it has more power than any other.
When I met my boyfriend, I told him my favourite band was The Beatles, and that my dream would be to go to Liverpool to see where they used to live.
A year into our relationship, he booked a weekend to Liverpool for my 28th birthday.
We arrived on the Friday night and he surprised me with a concert at The Cavern Club. THE Cavern, where The Beatles started performing back in the 60s. ‘The Cavern Beatles’, a cover band, were playing there that night.
They were brilliant, and performed even the least famous songs. Unexpectedly, they even played “Golden Slumbers”, and celebrated one man’s birthday singing “When I’m Sixty-Four” which features on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was incredible.
On the Saturday, we went to The Beatles Story, a museum dedicated to the four boys and how they made history. It was followed by a trip to Paul’s house. This was unexpectedly far from the centre of Liverpool. I shed some tears of happiness, again. No need to go inside to feel it, I was there.
We ended up at the Philharmonic, the pub where James Corden took Paul McCartney during his Carpool Karaoke episode. Paul surprised all the customers with live music, when they all expected the jukebox to play.
The following day, we went to Penny Lane and continued to John Lennon’s house, a few minutes away from Macca’s. It is very much like the house pictured in Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Nowhere Boy, for those who have seen it. From there, we walked to Strawberry Field, which now belongs to the Salvation Army. We walked to Quarry Lane, where we guessed Lennon’s school must have been as it inspired him his first band’s name: The Quarrymen. Once Paul and George joined, they later became The Beatles. It would take a few years for them to replace drummer Pete Best with Ringo.
Then, we arrived at George’s house, a very simple home, in a muddy Victorian alleyway. We finished closer to the centre of Liverpool with Ringo’s childhood house. It is a light-pink house with the windows allowing us to peek inside the empty place.
At the end of the trip, my boyfriend told me I had earned my ‘Mega Beatles fan’ title.
My name is Nina, I am 28, and I am a Beatles mega fan in the 21st Century.
To conclude, I listened to The Beatles for the first time because of my parents, but after that, I created my own story with them. All in all, we’re in 2020, and the Beatlemania is very much alive. I should know: I saw Paul McCartney live four times and I am about to see him a fifth one. And I hope, that even if he’s already 77 years old, it won’t be the last.
Nina is a contributing writer at No Majesty.