Every so often, it’s healthy to take a step back and acknowledge when a rival does a good job. The world of online magazine journalism isn’t exactly cutthroat, but there’s still a certain amount of jealousy when someone else covers a story you had an idea for, or creates a video package that’s really impressive. Pride and envy are both sins, so the humble man is the holiest of men.
With that being said, Vanity Fair put together a really great video mapping out every reference to a real life place mention within the Beatles catalogue of lyrics a few years back. From the well-known spots like Liverpool’s Strawberry Field to more obscure like the Black Mountain Hills of Dakota mentioned in ‘Rocky Raccoon’, they cover everything.
Because the band integrated a fair amount of personal experience into their lyric writing, most of the real-life locales mentioned in their songs are based in England. ‘A Day in the Life’ gets the most references of any song, tracking down the Royal Albert Hall and Blackburn, Lancashire, among other sites mentioned. However, the video also travels to the US for the “Hollywood song” of ‘Honey Pie’, France for “Semolina Pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower” in ‘I Am the Walrus’, and the disputed land of “Gibraltar near Spain” for ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’.
The video plays fast and loose with some locations not specifically mentioned, but alluded to, in certain songs, mostly just to integrate important places in the band’s history into the video. Examples include seeing a girl dance at The Cavern Club in ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and the vague “places I remember” being Lennon’s “Mendips” childhood home. But when it comes down to it, the video’s not afraid to get exact, like tracing the precise location of the ‘Eleanor Rigby’ tombstone at St. Peter’s Church.
Hey VF, we’re Beatle freaks too, you know. Has Vanity Fair covered every self-reference The Beatles made in their lyrics? Or how about every time a member quit the band? Maybe an entire featured retrospective on Ringo’s singing on ‘Yellow Submarine‘? Or a trilogy of articles about the time the band dissed Jesus, and then met Jesus, and then became Jesus? Nay, I say, nay!
Check out the video down below.