Friday, May 08, 2009

Capital Of Theme Park Culture

Penny Kiley, a one-time music journalist on the Echo, back in the days when the paper actually employed people who cared about what they wrote & attended the gigs they reviewed, posted a wistful & reproachful piece on Liverpool Confidential the other day ( ) for those who now celebrate not just the Cavern's place in the city's musical history, but that of Eric's too:
"When Eric's was happening, very few people in Liverpool knew or cared about the city's music. They hated Eric's, if they knew about it at all; they'd forgotten Merseybeat. Even the site of the Cavern was the car park over the road from Eric's that I used to run across to get the last bus. The Beatles industry didn't get started until after John Lennon died (and then it was used to evict the new musicians from Matthew Street)."
I've often lamented the city's penchant for nostalgia at the expense of the present & future. The city's music scene is a case in point, as Penny observes:
"Memory lane is culture as comfort food: familiar, reassuring, and something you don't have to think about. And it's the default setting for Liverpool. Are we selling a lie to the tourists (we all know the Cavern is a copy, but no-one lets on)? Or are we telling a lie to ourselves?"
Penny muses:
"It's easy to celebrate something after the event, smoothing over those awkward questions about sex, drugs, rock'n'roll, politics and authenticity that make real culture so hard to take at the time."
The Cavern was bulldozed & cemented over on the say-so of 40 & 50-something overwhelmingly white male councillors in 1973; the Beatles couldn't sing for toffee, one famously declared; they took drugs, another whined.
Eric's was closed on a spurious pretext of drug use at the premises in 1980; punk was viewed with fear & loathing by a new generation of mainly white, male, middle-aged councillors, some of whom, ironically fondly recalled going to the Cavern at lunch-time in the early 60s.
Youth culture in Liverpool? It's long as it belongs to a different era.

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