“Eleanor Rigby” is on the 1966 album “Revolver” and also on a double A-side single with “Yellow Submarine”. It was written and credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but the entire band worked on it together.
This song was during the Beatles transformation. They moved from just rock and roll music to experimentation with different genres. Although a few other songs by the Beatles can be deemed similar, “Eleanor Rigby” is unique. The lyrics and music of this song were unlike other popular music songs at the time.
“All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?”
This song was about loneliness, proving the Beatles had a wide range beyond just traditional rock. The song featured violins, cellos and violas created on a score composed by George Martin. Paul McCartney created the melody on his piano.
The original name of the woman in the song was going to be Miss Daisy Hawkins, but Eleanor Rigby was picked instead. McCartney explained in 1984 that he was looking for a name that sounded natural.
“Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?”
“Eleanor Rigby” stayed at number one on the British pop charts for four weeks straight. It won the Grammy for Best Contemporary (R&R) Vocal Performance, Male or Female for McCartney in 1966. “Eleanor Rigby” also was featured in the “Yellow Submarine” 1968 animated film.
Even though the lyrics are somber, this is one of my favorite songs. I enjoy most of the songs by the Beatles, but a few of them stand out for me. I like the blunt and painfully honest explanation of loneliness in “Eleanor Rigby”.
I find it interested how all of the people are lonely, but they really don’t have to be. When I hear “All the lonely people” I think of an episode of “That 70’s Show”. The character Jackie likes Hyde and she says, “Well I noticed that you’re alone a lot and I’m alone a lot, so let’s be alone together.”
The song mentioned how both Eleanor Rigby and Father McKenzie are alone in their own way. Eleanor Rigby attends a church after a wedding is over. She waits by the window for someone, but no one is there. Father McKenzie writes sermons that no one will hear. He darns his socks at night by himself. They are both separately alone. When they come together in the end, it’s already too late.
“Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved.”
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PAUL 1966: “I was sitting at the piano when I thought of it. The first few bars just came to me, and I got this name in my head… Daisy Hawkins picks up the rice in the church. I don’t know why. I couldn’t think of much more so I put it away for a day. Then the name Father McCartney came to me, and all the lonely people. But I thought that people would think it was supposed to be about my Dad sitting knitting his socks. Dad’s a happy lad. So I went through the telephone book and I got the name McKenzie. I was in Bristol when I decided Daisy Hawkins wasn’t a good name. I walked ’round looking at the shops, and I saw the name Rigby. Then I took the song down to John’s house in Weybridge. We sat around, laughing, got stoned and finished it off.”
JOHN 1980: “Paul’s baby, and I helped with the education of the child… The violin backing was Paul’s idea. Jane Asher had turned him on to Vivaldi, and it was very good.”
PAUL 1984: “I got the name Rigby from a shop in Bristol. I was wandering round Bristol one day and saw a shop called Rigby. And I think Eleanor was from Eleanor Bron, the actress we worked with in the film ‘Help!’ But I just liked the name. I was looking for a name that sounded natural. Eleanor Rigby sounded natural.”
Also, check out this statue of Eleanor Rigby located in Liverpool.
Peace and love. Let it be.
– Jasmin ☼
Photo Credits: Rap361