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Eleanor Rigby

"Eleanor Rigby" is a song by the Beatles, released on the 1966 album Revolver and
"Eleanor Rigby"
as a 45 rpm single. It was written primarily by Paul McCartney, and credited to
LennonMcCartney.[3]

The song continued the transformation of the Beatles from a mainly rock and roll-
and pop-oriented act to a more experimental, studio-based band. With a double
string quartet arrangement by George Martin and striking lyrics about loneliness,
"Eleanor Rigby" broke sharply with popular music conventions, both musically and
lyrically.[4] Richie Unterberger of AllMusic cites the band's "singing about the
neglected concerns and fates of the elderly" on the song as "just one example of why
[5]
the Beatles' appeal reached so far beyond the traditional rock audience".

US picture sleeve

Contents Single by the Beatles


from the album Revolver
1 Composition
A-side "Yellow Submarine"
2 Harmony
(double A-side)
3 Historical artifacts
4 Recording
Released 5 August 1966

5 Releases Format 7-inch single


6 Significance Recorded 2829 April and 6
7 Personnel June 1966
8 Notable cover versions Studio EMI, London
9 Charts Genre Baroque pop,[1] art
10 Notes rock[2]
11 References Length 2:08
12 External links
Label Parlophone, Capitol
Songwriter(s) LennonMcCartney
Producer(s) George Martin
Composition
The Beatles singles chronology
Paul McCartney came up with the melody of "Eleanor Rigby" as he experimented
"Paperback "Eleanor "Strawberry
with his piano. However, the original name of the protagonist that he chose was not
Writer" Rigby" / Fields
Eleanor Rigby, but Miss Daisy Hawkins.[6] The singer-composer Donovan reported
(1966) "Yellow Forever" /
that he heard McCartney play it to him before it was finished, with completely
Submarine" "Penny
different lyrics.[7] In 1966, McCartney recalled how he got the idea for his song: (1966) Lane"
(1967)
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
Music video
the rice in the church". I don't know why. I couldn't think of much more "Eleanor Rigby" on YouTube
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".[8]

Others believe that "Father McKenzie" refers to "Father" Tommy McKenzie, who was the compere at Northwich Memorial
Hall.[9][10]

McCartney said he came up with the name "Eleanor" from actress


"Eleanor Rigby"
Eleanor Bron, who had starred with the Beatles in the film Help!.
"Rigby" came from the name of a store in Bristol, "Rigby & Evens Ltd,
Wine & Spirit Shippers", which he noticed while seeing his girlfriend
Problems playing this file? See media help. of the time, Jane Asher, act in The Happiest Days of Your Life. He
recalled in 1984, "I just liked the name. I was looking for a name that
sounded natural. 'Eleanor Rigby' sounded natural." However, it has been pointed out that the graveyard of St Peter's Church in
Liverpool, where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met at the Woolton Village garden fete in the afternoon of 6 July 1957,
contains the gravestone of an individual called Eleanor Rigby. McCartney conceded he may have been subconsciously influenced by
the name on the gravestone.[11] In 2008, however, he appeared to discard this theory. That year, when a birth certificate was sold at
auction of a woman named Eleanor Rigby, with seller and buyer believing it belonged to the person referenced in the song,
McCartney publicly declared: "Eleanor Rigby is a totally fictitious character that I made up." He added, "If someone wants to spend
money buying a document to prove a fictitious character exists, that's fine with me." [12] The real Eleanor Rigby lived a lonely life
similar to that of the woman in the song.[13]

McCartney wrote the first verse by himself, and the Beatles finished the song in the music room of John Lennon's home at Kenwood.
John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Lennon's childhood friend Pete Shotton all listened to McCartney play his song
through and contributed ideas. Harrison came up with the "Ah, look at all the lonely people" hook. Starr contributed the line "writing
the words of a sermon that no one will hear" and suggested making "Father McCartney" darn his socks, which McCartney liked. It
was then that Shotton suggested that McCartney change the name of the priest, in case listeners mistook the fictional character in the
song for McCartney's own father.[14]

[15] or a commentary on post-war life in Britain.


The song is often described as a lament for lonely people [16][17]

McCartney could not decide how to end the song, and Shotton finally suggested that the two lonely people come together too late as
Father McKenzie conducts Eleanor Rigby's funeral. At the time, Lennon rejected the idea out of hand, but McCartney said nothing
and used the idea to finish off the song, later acknowledging Shotton's help.[14]

Lennon was quoted in 1971 as having said that he "wrote a good half of the lyrics or more"[18] and in 1980 claimed that he wrote all
but the first verse,[19] but Shotton remembered Lennon's contribution as being "absolutely nil".[20] McCartney said that "John helped
[21]
me on a few words but I'd put it down 8020 to me, something like that."

Harmony
The song is a prominent example of mode mixture, specifically between the Aeolian mode, also known as natural minor, and the
Dorian mode. Set in E minor, the song is based on the chord progression Em-C, typical of the Aeolian mode and utilising notes 3,
6, and 7 in this scale. The verse melody is written in Dorian mode, a minor scale with the natural sixth degree.[22] "Eleanor Rigby"
opens with a C-major vocal harmony ("Aah, look at all ..."), before shifting to E-minor (on "lonely people"). The Aeolian C-natural
note returns later in the verse on the word "dre-eam" (C-B) as the C chord resolves to the tonic Em, giving an urgency to the melody's
mood.

The Dorian mode appears with the C# note (6 in the Em scale) at the beginning of the phrase "in the church". The chorus beginning
"All the lonely people" involves the viola in a chromatic descent to the 5th; from 7 (D natural on "All the lonely peo-") to 6 (C on "-
ple") to 6 (C on "they) to 5 (B on "from"). This is said to "add an air of inevitability to the flow of the music (and perhaps to the
plight of the characters in the song)".[23]

Historical artifacts
In the 1980s, a grave of an Eleanor Rigby was "discovered" in the graveyard of St
Peter's Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool, and a few yards away from that, another
tombstone with the last name "McKenzie" scrawled across it.[24][25] During their
teenage years, McCartney and Lennon spent time sunbathing there, within earshot of
where the two had met for the first time during a fete in 1957. Many years later,
McCartney stated that the strange coincidence between reality and the lyrics could be
a product of his subconscious (cryptomnesia), rather than being a meaningless
fluke.[24]

An actual Eleanor Rigby was born on 29 August 1895 and lived in Liverpool, possibly
in the suburb of Woolton, where she married a man named Thomas Woods on Boxing
Day 1930. She died on 10 October 1939 of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 44 and
was buried three days later. Regardless of whether this Eleanor was the inspiration for
the song or not, her tombstone has become a landmark to Beatles fans visiting
Liverpool. A digitised version was added to the 1995 music video for the Beatles'
The gravestone of the "real" Rigby,
reunion song "Free as a Bird". St Peter's Parish Church, Woolton,
August 2008
In June 1990, McCartney donated to Sunbeams Music Trust[26] a document dating
from 1911 which had been signed by the 16-year-old Eleanor Rigby; this instantly
attracted significant international interest from collectors because of the coincidental significance and provenance of the
document.[27] The nearly 100-year-old document was sold at auction in November 2008 for 115,000.[28] The Daily Telegraph
reported that the uncovered document "is a 97-year-old salary register from Liverpool City Hospital". The name "E. Rigby" is printed
on the register, and she is identified as ascullery maid. She also did many things for the Liverpool City Hospital.

Recording
"Eleanor Rigby" does not have a standard pop backing. None of the Beatles played
instruments on it, though John Lennon and George Harrison did contribute harmony
vocals.[29] Like the earlier song "Yesterday", "Eleanor Rigby" employs a classical
string ensemblein this case an octet of studio musicians, comprising four violins,
two violas, and two cellos, all performing a score composed by producer George
Martin.[29] Where "Yesterday" is played legato, "Eleanor Rigby" is played mainly in
staccato chords with melodic embellishments. For the most part, the instruments
"double up"that is, they serve as a single string quartet but with two instruments
The Beatles in 1965 playing each of the four parts. Microphones were placed close to the instruments to
produce a more vivid and raw sound; George Martin recorded two versions, one
with and one without vibrato, the latter of which was used. McCartney's choice of a
string backing may have been influenced by his interest in the composer Antonio Vivaldi, who wrote extensively for string
instruments (notably "the Four Seasons"). Lennon recalled in 1980 that "Eleanor Rigby" was "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."[30] The
octet was recorded on 28 April 1966, in Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios; it was completed in Studio 3 on 29 April and on 6 June.
Take 15 was selected as the master.[31]

George Martin, in his autobiography All You Need Is Ears, takes credit for combining two of the vocal parts"Ah! look at all the
lonely people" and "All the lonely people"having noticed that they would work together contrapuntally. He cited the influence of
Bernard Herrmann's work on his string scoring. (Originally he cited the score for the film Fahrenheit 451,[32] but this was a mistake
as the film was not released until several months after the recording; Martin later stated he was thinking of Herrmann's score for
Psycho.)[33]

The original stereo mix had McCartney's voice only in the right channel during the verses, with the string octet mixed to one channel,
while the mono single and mono LP featured a more balanced mix. On the Yellow Submarine Songtrack and Love versions,
McCartney's voice is centred and the string octet appears in stereo, creating a modern-sounding mix.

Releases
Simultaneously released on 5 August 1966 on both the album Revolver and on a double A-side single with "Yellow Submarine" on
Parlophone in the United Kingdom and Capitol in the United States,[34] "Eleanor Rigby" spent four weeks at number one on the
British charts,[29] but in America it only reached #11.[35]

The song was nominated for three Grammys and won the 1966 Grammy for Best Contemporary (R&R) Vocal Performance, Male or
Female for McCartney. Thirty years later, a stereo remix of George Martin's isolated string arrangement was released on the Beatles'
Anthology 2. A decade after that, a remixed version of the track was included in the 2006 album
Love.

It is the second song to appear in the Beatles' 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine. The first is "Yellow Submarine"; it and "Eleanor
Rigby" are the only songs in the film which the animated Beatles are not seen to be singing. "Eleanor Rigby" is introduced just before
the Liverpool sequence of the film; its poignancy ties in quite well with Ringo Starr (the first member of the group to encounter the
submarine), who is represented as quietly bored and depressed."Compared with my life, Eleanor Rigby's was a gay, mad world."

In 1984, a re-interpretation of the song was included in the film and album Give My Regards to Broad Street, written by and starring
McCartney. It segues into a symphonic extension, "Eleanor's Dream."

A fully remixed stereo version of the original "Eleanor Rigby" song was issued in 1999 on the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, with
some minor fixes to the vocals.

Significance
"Eleanor Rigby" was important in the Beatles' evolution from a pop, live-
performance band to a more experimental, studio-orientated band, though the track
contains little studio trickery. In a 1967 interview, Pete Townshend of The Who
commented, "I think 'Eleanor Rigby' was a very important musical move forward. It
[36]
certainly inspired me to write and listen to things in that vein."

Though "Eleanor Rigby" was far from the first pop song to deal with death and
loneliness, according to Ian MacDonald it "came as quite a shock to pop listeners in
1966".[29] It took a bleak message of depression and desolation, written by a famous
pop band, with a sombre, almost funeral-like backing, to the number one spot of the
pop charts.[29] The bleak lyrics were not the Beatles' first deviation from love songs,
but were some of the most explicit.

In some reference books on classical music, "Eleanor Rigby" is included and


Statue of Eleanor Rigbyby Tommy
considered comparable to art songs (lieder). Classical and theatrical composer Steele on Stanley Street, Liverpool.
Howard Goodall said that the Beatles' works are "a stunning roll-call of sublime A plaque describes: "Dedicated toAll
melodies that perhaps only Mozart can match in European musical history" and that the Lonely People"
they "almost single-handedly rescued the Western musical system" from the "plague
years of the avant-garde". About "Eleanor Rigby", he said it is "an urban version of a
tragic ballad in the Dorian mode".[37]

Celebrated songwriterJerry Leiber said: "The Beatles are second to none in all departments. I don't think there has ever been a better
song written than 'Eleanor Rigby'."[38]
Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees once said that their 1969 song "Melody Fair" was influenced by "Eleanor Rigby".[39]

America's single, Lonely People, was written by Dan Peek in 1973 as an optimistic response to "Eleanor Rigby
."

In 2004, this song was ranked number 138 onRolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[40]

Personnel
Paul McCartney lead and harmony vocals
John Lennon harmony vocal
George Harrison harmony vocal
Tony Gilbert violin
Sidney Sax violin
John Sharpe violin
Juergen Hess violin
Stephen Shingles viola
John Underwood viola
Derek Simpson cello
Stephen Lansberry cello
Peter Halling - cello
George Martin producer, string arrangement
Geoff Emerick engineer

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[29]

Notable cover versions


Joan Baez's 1967 version, included on herJoan album, was sung to classical orchestration arranged byPeter
Schickele.
Richie Havens included his version of the song on his 1967 debut albumMixed Bag.
Ray Charles recorded a version that was released as a single in both the U.S. and the U.K. in 1968. Charles's
version entered the U.S. Cash Box chart on 15 June 1968, [41] peaking at No.39 during the weeks of 13 July 1968 &

20 July 1968, and entered the U.K. singles chart on 31 July 1968,[42] peaking at No.36 (week of 7 August 1968)
during a 9-week chart run.
Metal band Pain recorded their version for their 2001 albumNothing Remains The Same.
Of Monsters and Men recorded their version in 2016 for theNetflix Original Series for kidsBeat Bugs.
Chilean band Quilapayn recorded a version in Andean style, released in some editions of their 1978 album
Survaro.
American Rock band GodHead recorded a version for their third studio albumPower Tool Stigmata, released in
1998.

Charts
Peak
Chart (1966)
position

UK Singles Chart 1[43]


Canadian CHUM Chart 1
US Billboard Hot 100 11
Peak
Chart (1986)
position
UK Singles Chart 63

UK, starting 11 August 1966:[44] 8-1-1-1-1-3-5-9-18-26-30-33-42


UK, starting 30 August 1986: 63-81

Notes
1. Stanley, Bob (20 September 2007)."Pop: Baroque 22. Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of h
te
and a soft place" (https://www.theguardian.com/music/ Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY
.
2007/sep/21/popandrock1). The Guardian. London. 2003. p276.
Film & music section, p. 8. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 23. Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of h
te
2. Rodriguez 2012, p. 138. Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY
.
3. Miles 1997, p. 281. 2003. pp 333334
4. Campbell, Michael; Brody, James (2008). Rock and 24. The Beatles 2000, p. 208.
Roll: An Introduction (https://books.google.com/book 25. Hill 2007.
s?id=RK-JmVbv4OIC&pg=PA172#v=onepage&q&f=fal 26. Sunbeams Trust 2008.
se) (2nd ed.). Cengage Learning. pp. 172173.
27. Collett-White 2008.
ISBN 0-534-64295-0.
28. Meeja 2008.
5. Unterberger, Richie. "Eleanor Rigby - The Beatles"(htt
p://www.allmusic.com/song/eleanor-rigby-mt00101002 29. MacDonald 2005, pp. 203205.
55). AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 3 January 30. Sheff 2000, p. 140.
2013. 31. Lewisohn 1988, pp. 77, 82.
6. The Beatles (https://digital.library.unt.edu/explore/partn 32. Pollack 1994.
ers/UNTML/browse/?start=38&fq=untl_collection%3AJ 33. Ryan & Kehew 2006.
GPC) interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
34. Lewisohn 1988, p. 200.
7. Miles 1997, p. 282.
35. Wallgren 1982, p. 48.
8. Beatles Interview Database 2007.
36. Wilkerson 2006.
9. Northwich Guardian 2000.
37. Goodall 2010.
10. RR Auction 2007.
38. Swainson 2000, p. 555.
11. Goodman 1984.
39. Hughes, Andrew. The Bee Gees: Tales of the Brothers
12. BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/mersey Gibb (https://books.google.com/books?id=KugbDQHX
side/7754146.stm)] 0R8C&pg=PT366&dq=brother+can+you+spare+a+son
13. Price, Richard (22 November 2008)."REVEALED: g&hl=fil&sa=X&ei=54DrUf3iIqzQiAfH8YEY&ved=0CE8
The haunting life story behind one of pop's most Q6AEwBA). Retrieved 9 January 2015.
famous songs ... Eleanor Rigby | Mail Online"(http://w 40. Rolling Stone 2007.
ww.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1088454/REVEALED
41. "Cash Box Top 100 singles, week ending 15June
-The-haunting-life-story-pops-famous-songs--Eleanor-
1968" (http://98.130.35.56/archives/60s_files/1968061
Rigby.html). Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 4 November
5.html). Randy Price. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
2013.
42. "Official Singles Chart Top 50: 31 July 1968 through 6
14. Turner 1994, pp. 104105.
August 1968" (http://www.officialcharts.com/charts/sin
15. Time 2010. gles-chart/19680731/7501/). The Official UK Charts
16. Harris 2004. Company. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
17. Dewhurst 1970. 43. "Official Singles Chart Top 50: 18 August 1966 through
18. Miles 1997, p. 283. 24 August 1966" (http://www.officialcharts.com/charts/
19. Sheff 2000, p. 139. singles-chart/19660818/7501/). The Official UK Charts
Company. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
20. Miles 1997, p. 284.
44. "Official Singles Chart Top 50: 11 August 1966 through
21. Miles 1997.
17 August 1966" (http://www.officialcharts.com/charts/
singles-chart/19660811/7501/). The Official UK Charts
Company. Retrieved 9 March 2017.

References
"Beatles' Tribute to 'Father McKenzie' ". Northwich Guardian. 2000. Retrieved 15 January 2007.
The Beatles (2000). The Beatles Anthology. San Francisco. ISBN 0-8118-2684-8.
"Bel Canto & the Beatles". Time. 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
"Bel Canto & the Beatles". Time. 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
Clement, Ross (27 September 2000)."Beatles Cover List".
Collett-White, Mike (11 November 2008)."Document with clues to Beatles enigma up for sale" . Yahoo News.
Dewhurst, Keith (15 April 1970)."The day of the Beatles". guardian.co.uk. London.
"Eleanor Rigby clues go for a song". Meeja. 28 November 2008. Archived fromthe original on 24 December 2008.
Retrieved 28 October 2008.
Goodall, Howard (2010)."Howard Goodall's 20th Century Greats". Archived from the original on 2 June 2007.
Goodman, Joan (December 1984). "Playboy Interview with Paul McCartney". Playboy.
Harris, John (20 June 2004)."Revolver, The Beatles". The Observer. London.
Hill, Roger (2007). "Gravestone of an "Eleanor Rigby" in the graveyard of St. Peter's Parish Church in oWolton,
Liverpool". Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2007.
"Item 934 - Beatles: Father McKenzie". RR Auction. 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
Ryan, Kevin; Kehew, Brian (2006). Recording the Beatles. Houston, TX.
Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York. ISBN 0-517-57066-1.
MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties(Second Revised ed.).
London. ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.
Pollack, Alan W. (13 February 1994). "Notes on "Eleanor Rigby" ". Notes on ... Series.
"Revolver: Eleanor Rigby". Beatles Interview Database. 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2007.
Rodriguez, Robert (2012).Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock 'n' Roll . Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books.
ISBN 978-1-61713-009-0.
"The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All T ime". Rolling Stone. 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2007.
"Shatner 'breaks' Beatles record". BBC News. 2 May 2003. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interviewwith John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York.
ISBN 0-312-25464-4.
"Sunbeams dinner and auction". Sunbeams Trust. November 2008. Archived fromthe original on 5 December 2009.
Retrieved 14 September 2009.
Swainson, Bill (2000). Encarta Book of Quotations. ISBN 0-312-23000-1.
Turner, Steve (2010). A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song . New York. ISBN 0-06-084409-4.
Tyrangiel, Josh (24 July 2006)."Tony Bennett's Guide To Intimacy". Time. Retrieved 7 March 2009.
Wallgren, Mark (1982). The Beatles on Record. New York. ISBN 0-671-45682-2.
Wilkerson, Mark (2006).Amazing Journey: The Life of Pete Townshend. ISBN 1-4116-7700-5.
Carlin, Peter (2009). Paul McCartney: a life. ISBN 1-4165-6209-5.

External links
The Eleanor Rigby statue in Liverpool, England
Eleanor Rigby tombstone photo and info
Cover version w/Mandolins & Strings
Manuscript Reveals Clues to Beatles Eleanor Rigby
Biography of the real Eleanor Rigby
Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics

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