Climbing up the steps of the underground, Baker Street appears no different than any other bustling street in the city of Westminster, London. The street made famous as the residence of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, now boasts a museum dedicated to Holmes. However, that place was not the destination of my journey to Baker Street today. Instead I walked two doors down to The Official Beatles Store of London.
Upon entering, I was greeted with the sound of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s voices singing “Baby you can drive my car.” I cringed. After being forced to listen to the Beatles on long car rides with my mother as a child, I developed a serious disdain for the group. I even went as far as hiding her “The Beatles One ” album, which still remains hidden to this day (sorry mom.)
In high school I unpleasantly discovered that I was more the exception to the rule than the norm. I learned to keep my opinion to myself, as my classmates wandered down the halls in Beatles shirts excited that we would be playing “Eleanor Rigby” in our next concert.
Now I’m staring at a Beatles guitar pick trying to understand what was so great about them in the first place. The Official Beatles store is a surprisingly small space, stacked from floor to ceiling with Beatles memorabilia. Any place of the wall not supporting a shelf is covered with Beatles posters.
In the far corner, a television mounted high on the wall plays a continuous stream of Beatles performance footage. A wide variety of all too familiar Beatles shirts and patches fill shelves in the one center isle of the store.
As I make my way toward the back, I roll my eyes at the inflatable Beatles dolls, and John Lennon action figures. Locked in a case sits a collection of Beatles glass figurines. There are shelves of Beatles socks, Beatles alarm clocks and my personal favorite a “Stg.” and “Pepper” saltshaker set. I’m ready to leave the store, but not without getting a gift for my mom first.
To the right of the cash register, my eyes are drawn to an original vinyl of the Stg. Pepper Album. It rest next to a variety of original Beatles records. As I picked it up, I notice the bookshelf behind it is filled with Beatles books and DVDs.
Flipping through “The Beatles: Complete Scores” I am shocked that there are actually hundreds of pages filled with full scores and lyrics. In an era when singers barely sing, let alone write their own songs, I’m impressed that Lennon and McCartney actually wrote nearly all of their own material.
As I bring my purchase up to the cashier, I find myself humming along to Lennon’s Imagine playing on the television. Behind the obnoxious screaming fans and annoying Beatles action figures, there was in all fairness a group of talented musicians and songwriters. While I will never list the Beatles as one of my favorite bands, put their songs on my Ipod, or walk around in their band T-shirts, I can at least respect them as musicians. After paying for my mother’s gift I curiously ask the cashier what was her favorite Beatles song.
“I hate them all now,” she replied. I smiled and left knowing I’m not the only one.