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Open Access The Pool of Life: Liverpool, Rock Music and the Roots of Urban Creativity

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.

During the 1960s (and with a slight reprise in the 1980s) Liverpool, an apparently peripheral, worn out and bomb damaged British seaport, saw an extraordinary burst in urban creativity, centred on rock music, poetry and the visual arts, and culminating in the emergence of the Beatles. The psychoanalyst Carl Jung referred to Liverpool as 'the Pool of Life'; poet Allen Ginsberg as the 'centre of consciousness of the human universe'. Why did it happen at all, and of all places, why did it happen in Liverpool? This paper looks for explanations in economic and cultural history, in the biographies of key individuals, in the little known connections between Liverpool's history and the emergence of American blues and country music, and in insights from various theories of creativity and innovation. It asks whether there are lessons for other cities looking for regeneration in cultural and creative policies, whether there are lessons for Liverpool, and not least whether Liverpool might yet see a further burst of creative output.

Document Type: Book Review

Publication date: June 1, 2020

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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