Tone Deaf
The Brag Media ▼
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Observer
Tone Deaf

Paul McCartney reveals all about what inspired ‘Eleanor Rigby’

'Eleanor Rigby' is one of the undisputed best songs by The Beatles and Paul McCartney has helpfully given us a deeper understanding of it. 


Paul McCartney reveals all about what inspired 'Eleanor Rigby'

‘Eleanor Rigby’ is one of the undisputed best songs by The Beatles and Paul McCartney has helpfully given us a deeper understanding of the classic track. 

The star penned a new essay for The New Yorker, titled Writing Eleanor Rigby. Who exactly that titular character was has puzzled and intrigued fans for decades. Many assumed that it was inspired by a grave with the name ‘Eleanor Rigby’ on it at St. Peter’s Church in Woolton, England, where he met John Lennon back in 1957.

McCartney made it clear in his essay that this wasn’t the case, attributing the song’s inspiration instead to “an old lady that I for on with very well.”

“Growing up, I knew a lot of old ladies — partly through what was called Bob-a-Job Week, when Scouts did chores for a shilling,” he wrote. “You’d get a shilling for cleaning out a shed or mowing a lawn. I wanted to write a song that would sum them up.”

“I don’t even know how I first met ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ but I would go around to her house, and not just once or twice. I found out that she lived on her own, so I would go around there and just chat, which is sort of crazy if you think about me being some young Liverpool guy.”

The rocker recalled running errands for the woman. “I still vividly remember the kitchen, because she had a little crystal-radio set. So I would visit, and just hearing her stories enriched my soul and influenced the songs I would later write.”

McCartney also revealed that he originally used the name ‘Daisy Hawkins’ but felt “it wasn’t right” for the song in the end. After working with the actress Eleanor Bron on the 1965 film Help!, he felt ‘Eleanor’ was a better fit.

Love The Beatles?

Get the latest The Beatles news, features, updates and giveaways straight to your inbox Learn more

He also explained the origins of ‘Rigby’, which came from the surname on a shop sign he spotted in Bristol, England.

“I thought, That’s it! It really was as happenstance as that,” he remembered. “When I got back to London, I wrote the song in Mrs. Asher’s music room in the basement of 57 Wimpole Street, where I was living at the time.”

‘Eleanor Rigby’ was released in 1966, the second track on their seventh album Revolver.

For more on this topic, follow the Classic Rock Observer.

Check out ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by The Beatles:

YouTube VideoPlay

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine
Love this article?
Shout Conor Lochrie a beer