Touristic places thanks to popular songs

Penny Lane in Liverpool

Music has a huge impact on how we see the world, and in a lot of cases, where in the world we want to be. The popularity of certain places as tourist attractions is influenced by music, and the culture surrounding it. When an artist uses their work to express adoration for a place, whether it be because they grew up there or just because it inspires or intrigues them, it sparks in the rest of us a natural curiosity about it. And sometimes, that place even ends up being celebrated for its association with the artist.

Abbey Road, the street in London that famously featured on the cover of the Beatles eleventh album by the same name, was made so well-known by the image that it became a tourist hot spot, particularly for those on foot with a low budget. Even people who are not necessarily huge Beatles fans visit the area – it is often the case that if you just so happen to be in London, you’ll probably visit this street. It now attracts so many people – from all around the world – every year that the traffic is often slowed down by many Beatles fans walking across the street, trying to recreate “the shot” of the band walking on the zebra crossing in the album cover. The actual image itself is now even an internet meme, with many humorous edits. The street itself is not the only attraction for fans in the location; the studio where the Beatles recorded their eleventh album, Abbey Road Studios, is on the same street. Abbey Road and the Abbey Road recording studio are accessed by walking, and in the past, they had been viewed briefly by taking the London bus tour.

The Beatles also popularised Penny Lane with their single of the same name. The lyrics of the song set a scene of the city of Liverpool, that seems initially to be just as mundane and every-day as any other place, but upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that some things are slightly odd. The song has been described as flowing like a story or a movie screenplay.

Ed Sheeran’s song Castle on the Hill is about the small Suffolk town Framlingham, where he grew up, in the countryside. The lyrics of the song make direct references to the medieval landmark, Framlingham Castle, which is situated in the centre of the town. The song itself is about Ed Sheeran’s childhood in Framlingham, and the lyrics have a wistful quality to them that Ed says was inspired by both the “positivity” but also the “sadness” of the people in his hometown. Upon the release of the music video, the specified castle on the hill received a lot more visitors; an increase of over 35% in 2017. The town benefitted so much from the additional popularity that over £1 million were invested in the castle. Restoration work was done to improve its appearance and it continues to attract more tourists.

London has always been a popular tourist location, attracting people from all over the world. But in 2005, a budding young Londoner artist with an angelic, almost child-like innocence in her voice created a MySpace account and started publicly releasing her own music. Among these first releases was her single, “LDN”, which is early 2000s text-language for “London”. Of course, the artist in question was the adorable Lilly Allen. In the song, Lilly describes going on a bicycle journey through London, and witnessing a series of events unfold. She compares the reality of what living in London is really like, to the romanticised view of it through the rose-tinted glasses of any newcomer who is unfamiliar with the city’s shortcomings; such is the perspective a tourist might have. Despite this, she expresses a love for her hometown, with the main line of the chorus saying “why would I wanna be anywhere else?”

Paris Williams

I absolutely love music - not just as a pastime but also as a subject of study - and how it weaves its way into influence on culture, and by extension, society. Writing is just one way that I get to explore that which fascinates me, and share what I find with my readers. It's a mutual passion.