Paul explains what it was like to return to 20 Forthlin Road after 50 years
It’s not unusual to think fondly of your childhood home – but it would be strange to step inside many decades later to discover it looking almost exactly the same.
The same mismatched wallpaper, the furniture almost unchanged. Every ornament, each piece of crockery carefully chosen so that it looks as close as possible to the house you remember.
That was the situation that faced Paul McCartney when he returned to 20 Forthlin Road, in Allerton, earlier this year – and went inside for the first time in 50 years.
“I’d always felt it might just be a bit creepy, but actually when I got in there I was loving it. I could have stayed in there for hours,” says Paul, who made the trip with actor-comedian James Corden for the TV show Carpool Karaoke.“I’ve thought about it many times over the years and talked to people about it – said ‘you know I used to live in this little house’. Actually going back was kind of magical, ’cause suddenly it wasn’t remembering it, it was being in it.”
It was in 20 Forthlin Road that the Quarrymen, and later The Beatles, sometimes met to practice, and where Paul and John Lennon wrote Please Please Me, I Call Your Name and She Loves You.
Despite it now being owned by the National Trust – and visited by thousands of fans every year, Paul found himself transported inside his memories.“I could see my Dad sitting there with his pipe, watching the telly and playing the piano,” he says.“And in the back room I could see me and John writing songs, and me and George practicing.
“And the little kitchen – I remember cooking there, the evening meal, because I was first home so my Dad used to come into The Cavern and he’d give me half a pound of sausages or whatever it was and I’d cook that so it would be ready for whenever he came home.” ‘I said – hey I don’t think I can do this’
As well as being a huge hit with viewers in the UK – and the country’s most watched YouTube video with more than 35m views – Carpool Karaoke has reached Beatles fans across the world.
Paul puts on a US accent to take up the tale: “I’ll be at an airport in America or somewhere and someone will come up to me – ‘I love that thing you did with that English guy’.”
With a ‘secret gig’ in The Cavern back in July and his date at the Echo Arena next week – and of course his annual appearance at LIPA’s graduation ceremony – it seems like Paul can’t keep away from Liverpool at the moment.
“Mainly I’m in a car so it’s only when you’re at the traffic lights that someone will look across and go ‘Arrhhhh! Bloody hell!’,” he says, clearly relishing the chance to surprise unsuspecting drivers.
“You roll down the windows and say ‘Hey, where are you off to?’”
The summer’s concert was only the second time he has performed at The Cavern since The Beatles – and despite admitting “the atmosphere’s great” he seems unable to get past the fact that it’s not the original underground space – even if it is still at the same address.
“My little pet grouse is that it’s not where the Cavern was, but I don’t want to get petty,” he says.
“I figure if you can do an archaeological exploration of the Pyramids, you can do one of The Cavern. That would be my long term goal so you never know, one of these days…”
‘Liverpool people are totally crazy but then so am I’
His gruelling touring schedule is likely to slow his plans to turn Mathew Street into an episode of Time Team, however.
Only this week he added a list of US stadium dates to his current Freshen Up tour, which promises three hours of music ranging from back catalogue favourites to songs from his new Egypt Station album (incidentally named after one of the paintings he exhibited at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery back in 2002).
But no matter where he plays, he says, there’s nothing like coming home to Liverpool.
“I love it. The people there are totally crazy but then so am I so we’re okay,” says Paul.“With the tour we’ve been to Japan, Paris, Copenhagen, Austin, Texas and everywhere but I always say to my promoter I love the idea of bringing it home.” The tour has been particularly special for him as there are two LIPA graduates among the musicians on stage.“I’ve got three horn players in the current show and two of them are actually LIPA guys, which is amazing. It’s a real pay-off for the college,” he says.“I never expected to work with some of the students so it’s great and they’re really good.“I love going to LIPA’s graduation just ’cause of the great energy and the hopefulness. These days I think we need a lot of that.”
Paul McCartney plays the Echo Arena on December 12, 2018.