Eleanor Rigby





"Eleanor Rigby"
Enlarge picture
"Eleanor Rigby" cover
Single by The Beatles
from the album Revolver
A-side(s)"Yellow Submarine"
Released1966-08-05 (UK)
1966-08-08 (U.S.)
Format7"
RecordedAbbey Road Studios
28–29 April; 6 June 1966
GenrePop-Rock
Length2:06
LabelParlophone (UK)
Capitol (U.S.)
Writer(s)Lennon/McCartney
Producer(s)George Martin
Peak chart positions
The Beatles singles chronology


"Paperback Writer"
(1966)
"Eleanor Rigby" / "Yellow Submarine"
(1966)
"Strawberry Fields Forever" / "Penny Lane"
(1967)


Music sample
"Eleanor Rigby"
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Revolver track listing

Side one
  1. "Taxman"
  2. "Eleanor Rigby"
  3. "I'm Only Sleeping"
  4. "Love You To"
  5. "Here, There and Everywhere"
  6. "Yellow Submarine"
  7. "She Said She Said"
Side two
  1. "Good Day Sunshine"
  2. "And Your Bird Can Sing"
  3. "For No One"
  4. "Doctor Robert"
  5. "I Want to Tell You"
  6. "Got to Get You Into My Life"
  7. "Tomorrow Never Knows"


"Eleanor Rigby" is a song by The Beatles, originally released on the 1966 album Revolver. The song was primarily written by Paul McCartney,[1] although in an interview conducted with Playboy magazine in 1980, John Lennon claimed that "the first verse was his and the rest are basically mine."[2] 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."[3] 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 its striking lyrics about the loneliness, continuing the transformation of the Beatles started in Rubber Soul from a mainly pop-oriented act to a more serious and experimental studio band.

Inspiration

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:
Insert the text of the quote here, without quotation marks.


Others believe that Father McKenzie refers to 'Father' Tommy McKenzie, who was the compere at Northwich Memorial Hall[4][5]

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. Gradually, McCartney developed the theme of the loneliness of old age, morphing his song from the story of a young girl to that of an elderly woman whose loneliness is worse for having to clean up after happy couples.

Enlarge picture
A promotional poster for the single from the UK.
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."[6]

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.[7][8] 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 subconsciousness, rather than being a meaningless fluke.[7] 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. Whether this Eleanor was the inspiration for the song or not, her tombstone has become a landmark to Beatles fans visiting Liverpool. 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.[9]

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.[9]

Recording

Enlarge picture
The "Eleanor Rigby"/"Yellow Submarine" single issued by Parlophone in the UK. "Eleanor Rigby" stayed at #1 for four weeks on the British pop charts.
"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. 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 the musicians if they could 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 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."[10]


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.[11]

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 out contrapuntally together.

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.

Releases

"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.[12] It spent four weeks at number one on the British charts,[12] but in America it only reached the eleventh spot.[13]

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.

Significance

Enlarge picture
The "Eleanor Rigby"/"Yellow Submarine" single from Japan. The photo shows the Beatles on stage at Tokyo in 1966.
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. 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.[12] In fact, in the mid-1960s, the pop format hardly seemed the right vehicle for such a message, but 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.[12] "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' 1969 animated film Yellow Submarine, after "Yellow Submarine," the only songs in the film where the Beatles are not seen to be singing. Eleanor Rigby is introduced just before we see the Beatles in the film in their hometown, Liverpool, 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[15].

In 2004, this song was ranked number 137 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.[16]

In a 1966 press conference, an American reporter asked Paul what the inspiration for "Eleanor Rigby" was, and John jumped in saying "two queers." John was making a mockery of it, because at that time it was rumoured that "Day Tripper" was about a prostitute and "Norwegian Wood" was about a lesbian.

Subsequent non-Beatles recordings

Numerous artists have recorded "Eleanor Rigby" in a variety of styles, at least 61 released on albums by one count:[17]
  • Joan Baez's 1967 version, included on her Joan album, was sung to classical orchestration.
  • Ray Charles also released a famous version as a single and on the album A Portrait of Ray. This soul cover one steers closer to the original, retaining a string section, but adds a driving drum part and a more subdued chorus.
  • Aretha Franklin, on the album This Girl's In Love With You 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, Stanley Jordan, and John Pizzarelli recorded it as an instrumental, with lead-guitar taking over the vocal line.
  • The Post-hardcore Punk band Thrice recorded the song for the their "If We Could Only See Us Now" Compilation.
  • In the movie, Magnolia, Aimee Mann produces a song that uses the main background tune.
  • 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.
  • Eleanor Rigby has also been recorded by the band Dirt Poor Robins, being the first track on their debut album "The Greatest of Earth on Show" and on the re-release entitled "The Cage".
  • The group The Violet Burning recorded this song. It is featured on their CD, Strength.
  • The Swedish Industrial metal band Pain recorded this song on their 2002 album Nothing Remains the Same.
  • Bobbie Gentry also recorded Eleanor Rigby. Her version can be heard on the Capitol/Cema Special Markets album Great Songs of The Beatles.
  • Australian band Zoot released a version in 1970. It reached #4 on the Australian charts and went gold after its 1980 re-release.
  • Russian alternative rock band "Animal Jazz" also recorded "Eleanor Rigby" in 2003.

Notes

1. ^ Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 281. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6. 
2. ^ Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press, 139. ISBN 0-312-25464-4. 
3. ^ Shotton, Pete; Nicholas Schaffner (1983). John Lennon: In My Life. New York: Stein and Day. ISBN 0-8128-6185-X. 
4. ^ BEATLES' TRIBUTE TO 'FATHER MCKENZIE'. Northwich Guardian (2000-06-98). Retrieved on 2007-01-15.
5. ^ Item 934 - Beatles: Father McKenzie Catalog 292 (Dec 2004). rrauction.com. Retrieved on 2007-01-17.
6. ^ Goodman, Joan (December 1984). "Playboy Interview with Paul McCartney". Playboy.Playboy&rft.date=December%201984&rft.aulast=Goodman&rft.aufirst=Joan"> 
7. ^ The Beatles (2000). The Beatles Anthology. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 208. ISBN 0-8118-2684-8. 
8. ^ Gravestone of an "Eleanor Rigby" in the graveyard of St. Peter's Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool. Retrieved on 2007-03-09.
9. ^ Turner, Steve (1994). A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles' Song. New York: Harper. 
10. ^ Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying, 140. 
11. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books, 77, 82. ISBN 0-517-57066-1. 
12. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions, 200. 
13. ^ Wallgren, Mark (1982). The Beatles on Record. New York: Simon & Schuster, 48. ISBN 0-671-45682-2. 
14. ^ MacDonald, Ian (1994). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 162-163. ISBN 0-8050-2780-7. 
15. ^ Howard Goodall's 20th Century Greats
16. ^ The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Retrieved on 2007-03-07.
17. ^ Beatles Cover List.

External links



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In music, a single is a short recording of one or more separate tracks. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats.
  • Vinyl singles consist of one or more tracks on a traditional gramophone record.

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The Beatles were an English musical group from Liverpool whose members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music.
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Revolver
(1966) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
(1967)

The Beatles U.S. chronology

Yesterday and Today
(1966) Revolver
(1966) Sgt.
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A-side and B-side refer to the two sides of 7 inch vinyl records on which singles were released beginning in the 1950s. The terms have come to refer to the types of song conventionally placed on each side of the record, with the A-side being the featured song (the one that
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A-side(s) "Eleanor Rigby"
Released August 5 1966 (UK)
August 8 1966 (U.S.)
Format 7"
Recorded Abbey Road Studios
May 26 and June 1 1966
Genre Pop
Length 2:38
Label Parlophone (UK)
Capitol (U.S.
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Motto
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"God and my right"
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"God Save the Queen" [3]
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Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
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gramophone record (also phonograph record, or simply record) is an analogue sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed modulated spiral groove starting near the periphery and ending near the center of the disc.
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Pop rock is a subgenre of rock music that uses "catchy" pop style, with light lyrics over top of "guitar-based" songs.
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Sir George Henry Martin CBE (born 3 January 1926 in Highbury, London, England) is sometimes referred to as "the Fifth Beatle"—a title that he owes to his work as producer of almost all of The Beatles' records.
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The CHUM Chart was a ranking of top 30 (and, until August 1968, the top 50) songs on Toronto, Canada, radio station CHUM 1050 AM, from 1957 to 1986, and was the longest-running Top 40 chart in the world produced by an individual radio station.
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The Beatles were an English musical group from Liverpool whose members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music.
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B-side(s) "Rain"
Released 30 May 1966 (U.S.)
June 10 1966 (UK)
Format 7"
Recorded Abbey Road
13 April 1966
Genre Rock
Length 2:18
Label Parlophone R5452 (UK)
Capitol 5651 (U.S.
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A-side(s) "Eleanor Rigby"
Released August 5 1966 (UK)
August 8 1966 (U.S.)
Format 7"
Recorded Abbey Road Studios
May 26 and June 1 1966
Genre Pop
Length 2:38
Label Parlophone (UK)
Capitol (U.S.
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A-side(s) "Penny Lane"
Released February 13 1967 (UK)
February 17 1967 (US)
Format 7"
Recorded Abbey Road Studios
November–December 1966
Genre Psychedelic rock, acid rock
Length 4:10
Label Parlophone (UK)
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A-side(s) "Strawberry Fields Forever"
Released February 13, 1967 (UK)
February 17, 1967 (U.S.)
Format 7"
Recorded Abbey Road: 29 December 1966 – 17 January 1967
Genre Pop
Length 3:03
Label Parlophone (UK)
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