Eleanor Rigby

Infobox Single
Name = Eleanor Rigsby

Artist = The Beatles
from Album = Revolver
A-side = "Yellow Submarine"
Released = 5 August 1966 (UK) 8 August 1966 (U.S.)
Format = 7"
Recorded = Abbey Road Studios 28–29 April; 6 June 1966
Genre = Pop, classical
Length = 2:06
Label = Parlophone (UK) Capitol (U.S.)
Writer = Lennon/McCartney
Producer = George Martin
Audio sample? = yes
Chart position = * #1 (UK Singles Chart)
* #1 (CAN CHUM Chart)
* #11 (US Billboard Hot 100)
prev_track = "Taxman"
prev_no = 1
this_track = "Elanor Rigby"
track_no = 2
next_track = "I'm Only Sleeping"
next_no = 3
* #11 (US Billboard Hot 100)
Last single = "Paperback Writer" (1966)
This single = "Eleanor Rigby" / "Yellow Submarine"
Next single = "Strawberry Fields Forever" / "Penny Lane"
Misc = Extra musicsample |filename=Beatles_eleanor_rigby.ogg |title=Eleanor Rigby |format=Ogg |Type=singleExtra tracklisting
Album = Revolver
Type = studio
Tracks = ;Side one
# "Taxman"
# "Eleanor Rigby"
# "I'm Only Sleeping"
# "Love You To"
# "Here, There and Everywhere"
# "Yellow Submarine"
# "She Said She Said";Side two
# "Good Day Sunshine"
# "And Your Bird Can Sing"
# "For No One"
# "Doctor Robert"
# "I Want to Tell You"
# "Got to Get You Into My Life"
# "Tomorrow Never Knows"
Extra tracklisting
Album = Yellow Submarine Songtrack
Type = studio
prev_track = "Hey Bulldog"
prev_no = 2
this_track = "Eleanor Rigby"
track_no = 3
next_track = "Love You To"
next_no = 4

"Eleanor Rigsby" is a song by The Beatles, originally released on the 1966 album "Revolver". The song was primarily written by Paul McCartney,cite book |first=Barry |last=Miles |authorlink=Barry Miles |title=Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now |year=1997 |pages=281 |publisher=Henry Holt & Company |location=New York |isbn=0-8050-5249-6] although John Lennon claimed that "the first verse was his and the rest are basically mine."Lennon claimed this in an interview conducted with "Playboy" magazine in 1980. cite book |first=David |last=Sheff |title=All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono |year=2000 |pages=139 |publisher=St. Martin's Press |location=New York |isbn=0-312-25464-4] Pete Shotton, a close friend of Lennon who was present at the time, said "Though John (whose memory could be extremely erratic) was to take credit, in one of his last interviews, for most of the lyrics, my own recollection is that 'Eleanor Rigby' was one 'Lennon-McCartney' classic in which John's contribution was virtually nil."cite book |first=Pete |last=Shotton |authorlink=Pete Shotton |coauthors= Nicholas Schaffner |title=John Lennon: In My Life |publisher=Stein and Day |location=New York |year=1983 |isbn=0-8128-6185-X |pages=] McCartney also says that Lennon helped on about "half a line." It remains one of The Beatles' most recognizable and unique songs, with a double string quartet arrangement by George Martin, and striking lyrics about loneliness. The song continued the transformation of the group, started in "Rubber Soul", from a mainly pop-oriented act to a more serious and experimental studio band.


As is true of many of McCartney's songs, the melody and first line of the song came to him as he was playing around on his piano. The name that came to him, though, was not Eleanor Rigby but Miss Daisy Hawkins. In 1966, McCartney recalled how he got the idea for his song:

Others believe that Father McKenzie refers to 'Father' Tommy McKenzie, who was the compere at Northwich Memorial Hallcite web |url=http://archive.northwichguardian.co.uk/2000/6/8/221729.html|title=BEATLES' TRIBUTE TO 'FATHER MCKENZIE' |publisher=Northwich Guardian |accessdate=2007-01-15 |date=2000-06-98] [cite web |url=http://www.rrauction.com/past_auction_item.cfm?ID=3093601 |title=Item 934 - Beatles: Father McKenzie Catalog 292 (Dec 2004)|work=rrauction.com|accessdate=2007-01-17]

McCartney originally imagined Daisy as a young girl, but anyone who cleaned up in churches would probably be older. If she were older, she might have missed not only the wedding she cleans up after but also her own. McCartney said he came up with the name Eleanor from actress 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, that he noticed while seeing his then-girlfriend 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."cite journal |first=Joan |last=Goodman |title= Playboy Interview with Paul McCartney |journal=Playboy |date=December 1984 |publisher=Playboy Press]

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.cite book |author=The Beatles |authorlink=The Beatles |title=The Beatles Anthology |year=2000 |pages=208 |publisher=Chronicle Books |location=San Francisco |isbn=0-8118-2684-8] [cite web |url=http://www.sjsfiles.btinternet.co.uk/rogerrigbyc.htm |title=Gravestone of an "Eleanor Rigby" in the graveyard of St. Peter's Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool |accessdate=2007-03-09] During their teenage years, McCartney and Lennon spent time "sunbathing" there; within earshot distance 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 lyric could be a product of his subconscious, rather than being a meaningless fluke. The actual Eleanor Rigby was born in 1895 and lived in Liverpool, possibly in the suburb of Woolton, where she married a man named Thomas Woods. She died on 10 October, 1939 at age 44, which, because 1940 was a leap year, was exactly one year to the day before Lennon was born. Whether this Eleanor was the inspiration for the song or not, her tombstone has become a landmark to Beatles fans visiting Liverpool.cite web |url=http://www.beatlesbible.com/songs/eleanor-rigby/ |title=The Beatles Bible: Eleanor Rigby |accessdate=2008-10-12] A digitized version was added to the 1995 music video for the Beatles' reunion song "Free as a Bird".

The Beatles finished off the song in the music room of John Lennon's home at Kenwood. John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and their friend Pete Shotton all listened to McCartney play his song through and contributed ideas. Someone suggested introducing a romance into the story, but this was rejected because it made the story too complicated. 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, and Harrison came up with the line "Ah, look at all the lonely people". Shotton then suggested that McCartney change the name of the priest, in case listeners mistook the fictional character in the song for McCartney's own father.cite book |last=Turner |first=Steve |title=A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles' Song |year=1994 |publisher=Harper |location=New York |isnbn=0-06-095065-X]

The song is often described as a lament for lonely people [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,902081,00.html Bel Canto & the Beatles - TIME ] ] It is also referencing the Second World War, and many women were lonely after the war [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/thebeatles/story/0,,606241,00.html The day of the Beatles | Special reports | guardian.co.uk ] ] [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/omm/story/0,13887,1240036,00.html Revolver, The Beatles | OMM | The Observer ] ] .

McCartney couldn't 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.


"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 and backing vocals.Fact|date=September 2008 Instead, McCartney used a string octet of studio musicians, composed of four violins, two cellos, and two violas, all performing a score composed by producer George Martin. For the most part, the instruments "double up"—that is, they serve as two string quartets with two instruments playing each part in the quartet. Microphones were placed close to the instruments to produce a more vivid and raw sound. George Martin asked musicians to play without vibrato and recorded two versions, one with and one without, 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. 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."cite book |first=David |last=Sheff |title=All We Are Saying |year=2000 |pages=140] The octet was recorded on 28 April, 1966, in Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios and completed in Studio 3 on 29 April and on 6 June. Take 15 was selected as the master.cite book |first=Mark |last=Lewisohn |authorlink=Mark Lewisohn |title=The Beatles Recording Sessions |year=1988 |pages=77, 82 |publisher=Harmony Books |location=New York |isbn=0-517-57066-1]

George Martin, in his autobiography "All You Need Is Ears", takes credit for combining two of the vocal parts, having noticed that they would work together contrapuntally.

The original stereo mix had Paul'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 centered and the string octet appears in stereo in an attempt to create a more "modern" sounding mix.


"Eleanor Rigby" was released simultaneously 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.cite book |first=Mark |last=Lewisohn |authorlink=Mark Lewisohn |title=The Beatles Recording Sessions |year=1988 |pages=200] It spent four weeks at number one on the British charts, but in America it only reached the eleventh spot.cite book |first=Mark |last=Wallgren |title=The Beatles on Record |year=1982 |pages=48 |publisher=Simon & Schuster |location=New York |isbn=0-671-45682-2]

The song was nominated for three Grammies and won the 1966 Grammy for "Best Contemporary Rock and Roll Vocal Performance, Male" for McCartney. Thirty years later, George Martin's isolated string arrangement (without the vocal) was released on the Beatles' "Anthology 2". A remixed version of the track was included in the 2006 album "Love".


Though "Eleanor Rigby" was not the first pop song to deal with death and loneliness, it was certainly among the first to present such a serious attitude.Fact|date=June 2008 The Shangri-Las' 1964 hit "Leader of the Pack" gave a rendition of star-crossed lovers ending in one of their deaths, but the subject matter was purely in a romantic vein and far from a serious look at loss.cite book |first=Ian |last=MacDonald |authorlink=Ian MacDonald |title=Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties |year=1994 |pages=162-163 |publisher=Henry Holt and Company |location=New York |isbn=0-8050-2780-7] In fact, in the mid-1960s, the pop format hardly seemed the right vehicle for such a message; pop music consistently had a more rosy outlook on life. Nevertheless, "Eleanor Rigby" took a 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. "Eleanor Rigby" marks a midpoint of sorts in the Beatles' evolution from a pop, live-performance band to a more experimental, studio-oriented band though the track contains no obvious studio trickery. Whereas many of the other tracks on "Revolver" lend themselves to a rock group, "Eleanor Rigby" in a sense is a precursor to the psychedelic tracks of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". The subject matter also reflects a band in transition. The bleak lyrics were not The Beatles' first deviation from love songs, but were some of the most explicit. Eleanor Rigby's lonely existence shares more in tone with the sense of detachment of "A Day in the Life" than with "I Want to Hold Your Hand".

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, and 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.

In some reference books on classical music, "Eleanor Rigby" is included and considered comparable to art songs (lieder) by the great composers. Howard Goodall said that the Beatles' works are "a stunning roll-call of sublime melodies that perhaps only Mozart can match in European musical history" and that 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. [ [http://www.howardgoodall.co.uk/presenting/20centurygts.htm Howard Goodall's 20th Century Greats] ]

RS500S|137cite web |url=http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/500songs |title=The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time |accessdate=2007-03-07]

ubsequent non-Beatles recordings

The following artists have recorded "Eleanor Rigby" in a variety of styles, at least 61 released on albums by one count:cite web |url=http://www2.wmin.ac.uk/clemenr/covers/coversfull.html |title=Beatles Cover List]

* Doodles Weaver, recorded a comedic version where he mixes up the words. It appears on the record "Feetlebaum Returns!", and also on the album "Doctor Demento's Delites."
* Joan Baez's 1967 version, included on her "Joan" album, was sung to classical orchestration.
* P.P. Arnold (famous for her cover of Cat Stevens' "The First Cut is the Deepest") sang a cover of the song on her album "First Cut".
* Ray Charles also released a famous version as a single and on the album "A Portrait of Ray" (1968). This soul cover one steers closer to the original, retaining a string section, but adds a driving drum part and a more subdued chorus.
* Bobbie Gentry also recorded "Eleanor Rigby". Her version was included on her 1968 album "Local Gentry" and can be heard on the Capitol/Cema Special Markets album "Great Songs of The Beatles".
* Tony Bennett released a version on his 1969 album "Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today."
* Aretha Franklin, on the album "This Girl's In Love With You" (1970) and as a single, switching the song to first person and replacing the string quartet with a driving soul backing, complete with a chorus.
* Jazz musicians such as The Jazz Crusaders, Wes Montgomery (on his 1967 album "A Day in the Life"), Stanley Jordan (on the album "Magic Touch", 1985) and John Pizzarelli recorded it as an instrumental, with lead-guitar taking over the vocal line.
* The Nite Liters recorded a funk/soul instrumental version released in 1970.
* Australian band Zoot released a version in 1970. It reached #4 on the Australian charts and went gold after its 1980 re-release.
* Jamaican musician, singer, songwriter and producer Harris "B.B." Seaton with the band The Gaylads recorded the reggae version of this song in 1972.
* Brazilian composer/singer Caetano Veloso recorded it on the album "Qualquer coisa" (1975) whose cover paid homage to The Beatles' "Let it Be" album.
* Hull-based New Wave of British Heavy metal outfit Ethel the Frog covered this song on a single recorded for EMI in 1979.
*Uranium released a mainly instrumental cover in 1979.
* The Jerry Garcia Band played an instrumental version as part of a medley with "After Midnight". The medley appears on nine bootleg recordings between January 20th, 1980 and March 8th, 1980.
* The American thrash metal band Realm covered this song on their 1988 album "Endless War".
* In 1988, Folk Irish Band De Danann recorded a traditional-style version on their album "A Jacket of Batteries".
* Reggae artist Junior Reid released a dancehall version of the song on his 1990 album "One Blood".
* The Violet Burning recorded this song. It is featured on their 1992 album, "Strength".
* Wayne Johnson recorded an acoustic version of this song for his 1995 acoustic album "Kindred Spirits".
* Honolulu based metal group Sacred Rite recorded a version on their second album "Is nothing Sacred"
* American rock band Kansas recorded this song on their 1998 album "Always Never the Same".
* The group Godhead also recorded this song, on their 2001 album "2000 Years of Human Error". This version is done in an Industrial sounding way, a unique track on the album.
* The Swedish industrial metal band Pain recorded this song on their 2002 album "Nothing Remains the Same".
* Russian alternative rock band Animal Jazz recorded a cover of "Eleanor Rigby" in 2003.
* English multi-BBC Jazz Awards-winning pianist/vocalist Liane Carroll includes a version on her 2005 album "Standard Issue"
* American band Thrice include a cover of the song in their album "If We Could Only See Us Now" in 2005.
* Twisted Sister guitarist Eddie Ojeda recorded a heavy metal cover version of the song for his 2005 solo album Axes 2 Axes. Dee Snider performed the vocals.
* A cover of the song by David Schommer can be found on the soundtrack for the 2006 movie "Accepted".
* The Outside Royalty, originally from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, recorded an alternative indie rock version in 2006, featuring on their EP.
* UK electronic pop group Elevator Suite included a rendition in their 2007 self-titled album.
* The song was covered by American indie band Dirt Poor Robins, being the first track on their debut album "The Greatest of Earth on Show" and on the 2007 re-release entitled "The Cage" on Astonish Records.
* A balad-cover was made by Utah's Kristin Farr in 2007
* In 2008, David Cook, the winner of the seventh season of "American Idol", amazed the judges including Simon Cowell singing the song on March 11. A studio recording of his rendition was later released on iTunes Store.
* An extended psychedelic version appears on album Vehicle by Ides of March.
* In 1982 the band Twelfth Night recorded a 80s-style cover of this song for a single, and later included it as one of the bonus tracks on an extended edition of their Fact and Fiction album.

Live performances

* The Four Tops recorded this song for their 1969 album The Four Tops Now!. Another Motown act, The Supremes recorded this song in a live medley, together with The Temptations.
* Popular Las Vegas-based "alternative" band Panic At The Disco has covered the track live, but it was never studio recorded.
* The Uruguayan rock band La Conjura recorded this song on their live album "1000 km Para Ver".
* The band Acceptance has been known to play a live version of the song alongside Yellowcard's violinist Sean Mackin when Acceptance and Yellowcard toured in late 2005.
* The Post-hardcore band Thrice recorded the song on their CD/DVD "If We Could Only See Us Now" Compilation.
* Australian a cappella group The Idea of North sing a jazz version of Eleanor Rigby on their Live at the Powerhouse album.

ampling, appearances in other media, etc.

* In 1994, Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor sampled the song's chorus for her song, "Famine" which appears on Universal Mother. The song was later remixed and released as a single in 1995, and was a Top 40 UK hit.
* In 2006 Brooklyn rapper, Talib Kweli, released "All the Lonely People", using "Eleanor Rigby" as the main sample.
* In 2006, mashup artist team9 created a remix of "Eleanor Rigby" using Queens of the Stone Age's "In My Head".
* Lupe Fiasco samples "Eleanor Rigby" on "Go Go Gadget Flow", the third track from his 2007 release "The Cool"
* In 2008 rapper Ja Rule released a song called "Father Forgive Me" from album "The Mirror". It contains a sample of "Eleanor Rigby".
* In the 1999 movie, "Magnolia", Aimee Mann produces a song that uses the main background tune.
* In the video game Guild Wars, there is a non-player character in Ascalon City named "Ellie Rigby."
* In 2008, B.o.B. sampled "Eleanor Rigby" in his song "Lonely People."
* In 2008, The East Coast Avengers sampled "Eleanor Rigby" in their highly controversial song titled "Kill Bill O'Reilly".

Chart Run

11/08/1966: 8-1-1-1-1-3-5-9-18-26-30-33-42 (UK) 30/08/1986: 63-81 (UK)


External links

* [http://www.sjsfiles.btinternet.co.uk/img0075.htm The Eleanor Rigby statue in Liverpool, England]
* [http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/er.html Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Eleanor Rigby"]
* [http://www.onthisveryspot.com/spot/St_Peters_Church Eleanor Rigby tombstone photo and info]
* [http://www.hyperarts.com/mandolin-music/mp3/eleanor-rigby.mp3 Cover version w/Mandolins & Strings]

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