♫ Eleanor Rigby ♫

I haven’t played this one for a couple of years, and I know it is among the favourites of at least two of my long-time friends here on Filosofa’s Word, so …


Paul McCartney wrote most of this song. He got the name “Eleanor” from actress Eleanor Bron, who appeared in the 1965 Beatles film Help!. “Rigby” came to him when he was in Bristol, England and spotted a store: Rigby and Evens Ltd Wine and Spirit Shippers. He liked the name “Eleanor Rigby” because it sounded natural and matched the rhythm he wrote.

McCartney explained at the time that his songs came mostly from his imagination. Regarding this song, he said …

“It just came. When I started doing the melody I developed the lyric. It all came from the first line. I wonder if there are girls called Eleanor Rigby?”

McCartney wasn’t sure what the song was going to be about until he came up with the line, “Picks up the rice in a church where a wedding has been.” That’s when he came up with the story of an old, lonely woman. The lyrics, “Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door” are a reference to the cold-cream she wears in an effort to look younger.

The song tells the story of two lonely people. First, we meet a churchgoing woman named Eleanor Rigby, who is seen cleaning up rice after a wedding. The second verse introduces the pastor, Father McKenzie, whose sermons “no one will hear.” This could indicate that nobody in coming to his church, or that his sermons aren’t getting through to the congregation on a spiritual level. In the third verse, Eleanor dies in the church and Father McKenzie buries her.

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”.

Eleanor-RigbyLiverpool Echo newspaper commissioned this statue of Eleanor Rigby. It was sculpted by singer and London native Tommy Steele and unveiled on December 3, 1982. It is dedicated to “all the lonely people.” Items to note in the statue: a four leaf clover (for Good Luck), a page of the Bible (for Spiritual Guidance), soccer cleats (for Fun and Sport), a comic book (for Comedy and Adventure) and a sonnet (for Love). It can be found near the corner of Matthew and Stanley Streets.

Eleanor Rigby
The Beatles

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

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?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie
Writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working
Darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby
Died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie
Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people (ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people (ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all belong?

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
Eleanor Rigby lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

39 thoughts on “♫ Eleanor Rigby ♫

  1. Pingback: ♫ Eleanor Rigby ♫ – MobsterTiger

  2. Jill, this is on a short list of Beatle favorites. The story telling and music are top drawer in my view. Ironically, I just watched a movie called “The disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” starring Jessica Chastain. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My mental picture is vastly different from McCartney’s story above. Mainly the lines:
    Picks up the rice in a church where a wedding had been. Lives in a dream.
    I always saw Eleanor picking up the rice, not to clean, but as a talisman to dream about being married in her dream world. She hugs the rice to her breast as she walks down the aisle of the church, her drab dress a gorgeous wedding gown in her heart.
    Having said that, what year did you leave California, Jill? Today’s musical journey takes me to 1968. A local hit in California (San Francisco I think) and Vancouver, BC, Canada, where this band originated before heading down to California in search of fame and fortune. No one else would know it from that era. Except me, lol.
    Lydia Purple was the single release off The Collectors’ 1968 eponymous album. Research shows it reached about #11 in California markets and #4 in Vancouver. I always thought of it as a sort of rip-off of Eleanor Rigby, and possibly the band did too as they did not even want to record it. But their producer/promoter insisted, so they did.

    This comment is already too long so I will not add the lyrics here, but I will add the link to them below …

    Liked by 3 people

    • Your vision of the song’s background is very moving. I spent most of my first 13 years bouncing between New York and San Francisco, and was last there for a visit in 1969. I hear it’s changed a lot since then … likely not for the better.

      I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of the Collectors before but this song isn’t bad … pretty reminiscent of the 60s musically.

      Like

      • Yes, I loved the Prunes. Never knew what happened to them though. A couple hit singles, an excellent first album, and they disappeared from the record snelves, and the radio. With no internet yet, getting information about bands like that was impossible.
        Unrelated,and just by the way, why are so many albums distributed in Canada so different from those produced in England, and sometimes even the States too. Mind you, I prefer our version of HAIR with the Broadway Cast to the one from the London casr, but mostly when I got hold of British-produced albums that had different songs and in different orders than us, I prefered the Brit versions. When you mentioned one time you were more into the Moody Blues cosmic sound, that made me wonder if what we got here was different from what you got there? I loved listening to the Moodys right from Days of Future Past, they had something no one else did, but was that something distorted from the original when it got to Canada? I have always wondered. I looked at YouTube once, but could not find a British production album, but that doesn’t mean anything. For all I know youTube.com is different from YouTube in England! Is it?

        Liked by 2 people

        • To answer your last part first rawgod.
          Who knows? The ways of marketing and distribution within the entertainment industry are arcane and profit driven thus beyond us mere mortals.
          As for The Prunes… said to relate an all to familiar story. Locked into a contract Engineer & Producer David Hassinger had this thing about producing lps based around Abrahamic liturgy.
          Thus the guys were used for an Album Mass in F Minor…which wasn’t half bad but bombed at the time they got disillusioned and all drifted off. A new revised group comprised of session guys were involved in one based on Jewish prayer Release of an Oath… I like it but no Prunes were involved.
          The last time the name was used in the 1970s was under a poorly hacked item called It’s Only Rock and Roll..blah.
          Since then I think some members were on the revival circuit…a sad familiar story

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, us fans ‘Know’.
          It was a crazy time (as you will recall) with bands such as ‘The Ultimate Spinach’….’Vanilla Fudge’ ‘Frumious Bandersnatch’ and ‘Electric’ in a name was hip The Electric Flag, Electric Elves, so these young guys were thinking up crazy names with Electric in the makeup……
          BUT, as rawgod and I will testify they were at the onset cool……..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eNJxxYmFUs
          Lyrics:
          Lyrics
          Last night your shadow fell upon my lonely room
          I touched your golden hair and tasted your perfume
          Your eyes were filled with love the way they used to be
          Your gentle hand reached out to comfort me
          Then came the dawn
          And you were gone
          You were gone, gone, gone
          I had too much to dream last night
          Too much to dream
          I’m not ready to face the light
          I had too much to dream
          Last night
          Last night
          The room was empty as I staggered from my bed
          I could not bear the image racing through my head
          You were so real that I could feel your eagerness
          And when you raised your lips for me to kiss
          Came the dawn
          And you were gone
          You were gone, gone, gone
          I had too much to dream last night
          Too much to dream
          I’m not ready to face the light
          I had too much to dream
          Last night
          Last night
          I had too much to dream last night
          Too much to dream
          I’m not ready to face the light
          I had too much to dream
          Last night
          Last night
          Oh, too much to dream
          Oh, too much to dream
          Too much to dream last night
          Oh, too much to dream
          Oh, too much to dream
          Oh, too much to dream
          OR…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyLLniqj4Ys
          Lyrics:
          Here I go (higher, higher)
          Here I go (higher, higher)
          Here I go, go, go, go, go!
          You gotta get me to the world on time
          You gotta get me to the world on time
          The minute you walk in the room
          I break into a sweat
          My hands begin to shake so bad
          I can’t light my cigarrette
          Then you start walkin’ towards me
          And my cool comes all undone
          If I could get my feet to move
          I’d turn around and run
          My pulse is beatin’ faster
          And I’m headin’ for disaster
          Here I go (higher, higher)
          Here I go (higher, higher)
          Here I go!
          Get me to the world on time
          You gotta get me to the world on time
          One kiss from you
          And my whole body starts to actin’ strange
          You shake up all my hormones,
          You put me through a change
          This chemical reaction isn’t easy to refine
          You drive me to distraction,
          You disturb my peace of mind
          You got me spinning like a top now
          And I don’t know how to stop now
          Is this what loves all about
          Lately I feel so without
          Wild sensations
          Sweet frustrations
          You get me goin’
          And theres no slowin’ me down
          Here I go!
          Whoa here I go, go!
          Whoa, Here I go, go, go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!

          Ahhhhhhh, I am 16 going on 17 (again)….hold up, that sounds familiar?????

          Like

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