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Eleanor Rigby

by

The Beatles



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Paul McCartney wrote most of this song. He got "Rigby" from the name of a store (Rigby and Evens Ltd Wine and Spirit Shippers) and "Eleanor" from actress Eleanor Bron. He liked the name "Eleanor Rigby" because it sounded natural.
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 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.
"Father Mackenzie" was originally "Father McCartney." Paul decided he didn't want to freak out his dad and picked a name out of the phone book instead.
A string section scored by Beatles producer George Martin consisting of 4 violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos were used in recording. Paul may have been inspired by the classic composer Vivaldi.
The Beatles didn't play any of the instruments on this. All the music came from the string players, who were hired as session musicians.
Paul McCartney (from Observer Music Monthly November 2008): "When I was a kid I was very lucky to have a real cool dad, a working-class gent, who always encouraged us to give up our seat on the bus for old people. This led me into going round to pensioners' houses. It sounds a bit goody-goody, so I don't normally tell too many people. There were a couple of old ladies and I used to go round and say, 'Do you need any shopping done?' These lonely old ladies were something I knew about growing up, and that was what 'Eleanor Rigby' was about - the fact that she died and nobody really noticed. I knew this went on."
There is a gravestone for an Eleanor Rigby in St. Peter's Churchyard in Woolton, England. Woolton is a suburb of Liverpool and Lennon first met McCartney at a fete at St Peter's Church. The gravestone bearing the name Eleanor Rigby shows that she died in October 1939, aged 44. However Eleanor was not like the lonely people in McCartney's song, as she was married. Another of the gravestones there has the word "McKenzie" written on it. McCartney has denied that that is the source of the names, though he has agreed that they may have registered subconsciously.
This was originally written as "Miss Daisy Hawkins." According to Rolling Stone magazine, when McCartney first played the song for his neighbor Donovan Leitch, the words were "Ola Na Tungee, blowing his mind in the dark with a pipe full of clay." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
The lyrics were brainstormed among The Beatles. In later years, Lennon and McCartney gave different accounts of who contributed more of the words to this.
Microphones were placed very close to the instruments to create and unusual sound.
Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin both had hits with cover versions of this.
Because of the string section, this was difficult to play live, which The Beatles never did. On his 2002 Back In The US tour, Paul McCartney played this without the strings. Keyboards were used to compensate.
This song was not written in a normal chord, it is in the dorian mode - the scale you get when you play one octave up from the second note of a major scale. This is usually found in old songs such as "Scarborough Fair." (thanks, Rachel - Bath, England)
The backing vocals were sung on only the first 2 syllables. (thanks to Dwight Rounds, author of The Year The Music Died, 1964-1972)
Vanilla Fudge covered this in a slowed-down, emotional style. They've done this with many songs, including hits by *NSYNC, and The Backstreet Boys. Their version of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" was a #6 US hit in 1968. Says Fudge drummer Carmine Appice: "Most of the songs we did, we tried to take out of the realm they were in and try to put them where they were supposed to be in our eyes. 'Eleanor Rigby' was always a great song by The Beatles. It was done with the orchestra, but the way we did it, we put it into an eerie graveyard setting and made it spooky, the way the lyrics read. Songs like Ticket To Ride, that's a hurtin' song, so we slowed it down so it wouldn't be so happy. We would look at lyrics and the lyrics would dictate if it was feasible to do something with it or not." (Thanks to Carmine for speaking with us about this song. His website is carmineappice.net.)
Former US President Bill Clinton has stated that this is his favorite Beatles song. (thanks, Adrian - Wilmington, DE)
In 1966, this song took home the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Performance for a Male. It was awarded to Paul McCartney. (thanks, Tommy - flower mound, TX)
In August 1966, the long-defunct British music magazine Disc And Music Echo asked Kinks frontman Ray Davies to review the then newly released Revolver album. This is how he reacted to this song: "I bought a Haydn LP the other day and this sounds just like it. It's all sort of quartet stuff and it sounds like they're out to please music teachers in primary schools. I can imagine John saying: 'I'm going to write this for my old schoolmistress'. Still it's very commercial."
See the statue of Eleanor Rigby in Song Images
The chorus of this song was sampled as part of Sinead O'Connor's 1994 song "Famine," which was based on the story of the potato famine in Ireland. (thanks, Annabelle - Eugene, OR)
In 2008 a document came to light that showed that McCartney may have had an alternative source for the Eleanor Rigby name. In the early 1990s a lady named Annie Mawson had a job teaching music to children with learning difficulties. Annie managed to teach a severely autistic boy to play "Yellow Submarine," on the piano, which won him a Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award. She wrote to the former Beatle telling him what joy he'd brought. Months later, Annie received a brown envelope bearing a 'Paul McCartney World Tour' stamp. Inside was enclosed a page from an accounts log kept by the Corporation of Liverpool, which records the wages paid in 1911 to a scullery maid working for the Liverpool City Hospital, who signed her name "E. Rigby." There was no accompanying letter of explanation. Annie said in an interview that when she saw the name Rigby, "I realized why I'd been sent it. I feel that when you're holding it you're holding a bit of history."
When the slip went up for auction later that year, McCartney told the Associated Press: "Eleanor Rigby is a totally fictitious character that I made up. If someone wants to spend money buying a document to prove a fictitious character exists, that's fine with me."
This was released simultaneously on August 5, 1966 on both the album Revolver and as a double A-side with "Yellow Submarine."
The Thrash band Realm covered this song on their 1988 album Endless War. It is a Speed Metal version of the song that got them signed to Roadrunner Records. (thanks, Ben - Phoenix, AZ)
McCartney told Q magazine June 2010 that after recording the song, he felt he could have done better. He recalled: "I remember not liking the vocal on Eleanor Rigby, thinking, I hadn't nailed. I listen to it now and it's… very good. It's a bit annoying when you do Eleanor Rigby and you're not happy with it."
The Beatles
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Comments (137):

On December 8th, 1968, Ray Charles performed "Eleanor Rigby" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
Six months earlier on June 2nd it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; eventually it peaked at #35 and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
It reached #30 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart...
Two years earlier in 1966 the Beatles took the original version to #11 on the Top 100 (the flip-side was "Yellow Submarine", it reached #2 for 2 weeks)...
And in 1969 Aretha Franklin covered it, her version peaked at #17 on the Top 100.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
@ John in Williamsburg NJ: You are misinformed about the origin of the custom of throwing rice at weddings. It was not done to "distract demons". It was a fertility gesture which symbolized ejaculation, ensuring good luck in the bearing of children.
- exterminans, Louisville, KY, KY
This song is so addictive...
- Jessi, South Bloomfield, OH
I remember when this song came out that there was a lot of Christian religious fuss about the line "No one was saved." Many were irked that the Beatles were asserting that there is no salvation. I simply assumed that John Lennon stuck in that line to shake people up.
- Bob, Berkeley, CA
As I understand it John did not contribute to these lyrics pretty much at all. His friend Pete Shotton, who was there, also said that John hadn't contributed.

Paul had the idea with the old woman and the priest. It was not John's idea to name him McCartney, Paul had already used that name in the lyric but John did suggest rather sullenly to keep the name as McCartney but Paul decided to change it because otherwise it might seem disrespectful to his own father, implying he was lonely and sad.

There is also an interview in 1966 which is on the Beatles Anthology, it's at a press conference in 1966 during the tour and they ask them about writing and performing songs on their own, solo, and this song is brought up as an example, by George Harrison, of Paul doing so(though obviously he did call around for input) even though it was on a Beatles albums.

John who was sitting right next to Paul at the time, made a snarky comment about how the rest of them just sat around drinking tea, and seeming a bit put out. Paul himself didn't comment. It seemed like it might be a bit of a touchy subject between them.

So as I've understood it Paul wrote the song and he played it, before the lyrics were fully finished, for Donovan. Donovan has mentioned this. Paul had the basic story of the lyrics, the general direction it was going, and the first verse, the older woman who "keeps her face in a jar by the door"(very evocative that), the idea of the priest and the church. The theme of loneliness. At first he was going to include an unrequited romance between Eleanor, who worked in the church, and the priest but it was decided that would be too involved.

So to sum up, it appears that George Harrison(who helped on the All the lonely people line) and Ringo Starr(who helped on darning the socks) actually had more input lyrically on this song than John Lennon did, who, being put out that Paul had asked other people in the room for their opinions on finishing the lyric, sulked around and made unhelpful suggestions(re: keeping it Father McCartney) which were dismissed.

With regards to religion, Paul had very hard feelings about religion, especially at that time. His father was not religious and when his mother died when Paul was 14, Paul grew very bitter towards religion. In a 1965 interview Paul basically says he doesn't believe in God(I think it was a belief he shared with then girlfriend Jane Asher, I don't know if she still considers herself an atheist but apparently she did at one time).

It was something he was pretty outspoken about when the subject came up(I think he talked about in the 1965 Playboy interview, but I could be remembering the wrong article)

If you really watch and read the old interviews in their full forms from 1963 to 1967, you find that Paul McCartney was rather outspoken on a variety of subjects that were fairly an interview done with the same reporter for the same series of interviews that John got roasted for the "Bigger than Jesus" remark, Paul was commenting on racism in America, he was very critical.
- Donna, New Jersey, NY
eleanor was a nun, and lived in the church...notice how she picked up rice after the wedding when everyone had left,and then again references her being in the church upon her death.she lived a very secluded and lonely life until she passed away. a life devoted to god in steady prayer and readiness. her only true friend was father mckenzie. note how she was buried along with her name...how clever to say that she was buried and no one will remember her name.
- lee, huntsville, AL
this was my first ever favorite beatles song! its amaazing!
- Hayley, Virginia Beach, VA
An even sadder song(in my opinion)is "She's Leaving Home". It's such a good song but I guess it reminds me of leaving home and hurting my family too.
- Ginny, Chicago, IL
There is an awesome instrumental cover of this song by a folk music group known as "Freeway Philharmonic."
- Dougee, San Bernardino, CA
What can I say about this song that hasn't been said.This is what songwriting is all about.Telling a story with a piece of music that is pop and classical at the same time.The melody is so sublime and sweet,totally different from what was being written at that time or even to this day.Another masterpiece from Lennon and McCartney.
- George, Belleville, NJ
Joel not the first time the Beatles would use contrastng modes. On "Norwegian Wood" they went from dorain to mixolydian. There is not one rock instrument on this track. It's a string octet with vocals sometimes in counterpoint. Talk about going against the grain this so unlike what rock musicians were doing at the time.
- Giovanni, Lynhurst, NJ
On the use of the Dorian mode in Eleanor Rigby, the song is not fully in the Dorian, it switches between Dorian and Aeolian (or minor). If you are looking for a song that expresses Dorian completely, the theme to Gilligan's Island would be a better example.

Also, all the explanations of modes are a bit off in your comments. Dorian mode is most simply as having the scale begin and end on "re" in solfege, so on a piano, it would be from d to d on all white keys.
- Joel, Philadelphia, PA
My grandma's name is Eleanor Rigby. No joke. She was born before the Beatles came along-her name was Eleanor and she just happened to marry a Rigby. Not sure if this was after the song was written or before-I don't know what year she was married. But anyway she called a radio station once to tell them that was her name, and they wouldn't believe her. She tried to tell them she was serious and wasn't really joking, but they wouldn't. Just kind of a cute story :)
- Michelle Rigby, Orem, UT
It is an old practice for everyone surrounding the open grave to throw a clod of the unearthed dirt onto the coffin before it's buried. I think that's why it says that Father McKenzie wiped his hands as he left the grave site.
- Heather, Los Angeles, CA
I don't know that it could actually be the other way around. The face in the jar would be a mask, so it would have to be the happy face that she kept in it. If her mask is that of a lonely, hopeless old woman, then she's not really hopeless and lonely. She would have to put on a mask of happiness when she goes out into the world rather than a mask of hopelessness when she goes back into her house.
- Chelsey, Sistersville, WV
I see your point Deb, but it could also be the other way around: the face she keeps in a jar could be her hopeless face, and she stares out the window, waiting for someone who will never come back. Then, when she has to go, she puts it back in its jar, and goes out into the world with a brave face. It's a lovely song, and it's amazing that it has the sadness of the lyrics, but the strings give it an upbeatness, similar to Obi-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. One of my favorites.
- Vivel, Killian, LA
A few people here talk about Eleanor's "face" being make-up - I just don't think it's that superficial. "Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door" could simply be the brave face she wears to the outside world - a happy face, a smile that hides her lonliness. This is the face she wears when she opens the door or leaves the house.
- Deb, Melbourne, Australia
I Have Seen the Grave where she lies. Eleanor Rigby DID live
- Peter, Quahog, RI
I absoultely love this song, some of paul's best. I always see the story play out in my head when I hear it. For some reason I never pictured eleanor old, (although I know thats how he wrote it) but as a lonely young woman who's family is all gone, so she turned to the church for comfort. Though theres none to be had, because no one is ever there except for father mackenzie ("What does he care?"). (sounds like john's influence on the lyrics. I can definately understand his issues with organized religion) My friend and I also wonder endlessly what sort of relationship eleanor and father mackenzie had- did they have an affair, ("Who is it for?") did he kill her, ("Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave") or was she just so lonely that she talked to a priest all day? Certainly overthinking it, I know, but its interesting to wonder exactly what he meant, if he meant exactly anything at all.
- chloe, St. Louis, MO
It is usual to say that The Beatles were one step ahead of all other popular bands. No, the fact is that they were many steps ahead , no comparison is possible. I read somewhere from someone [sorry, I cannot remember detais , it happened a long time ago] that the competition that really was fiercy between many groups during the 60´s , ended when the album Rubber Soul was released. After that , it became clear that only the second place was avaiable.
- John, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Im not gonna analyze it,its a story song so just listen to the lyrics lol.
But its such a pretty song,sad yet..not sad.
Great job,posibly my favorite beatles song
- jessie steele, bartlett, TN
One of the most unusual songs in their entire canon, and one with some of their finest lyrics, period.
Quite a leap from "Hold Your Hand" to this, wouldn't you say?
- oldpink, New Castle, IN
I love david cook's version of this song =) its really cool...gothic even
- Jessie, Dallas, TX
If you need to know what key signature to play in for Dorian, move two spaces counter clockwise on the circle of 5ths. So for D Dorian, you get the key signature of C (no sharps/flats). Very simple. I propose leaving the technical explanations to people who have any idea of what they're talking about.
- G, Potomac, MD
People, don't you understand that a mode is the same thing as a scale? You can start it on any tone you please and just build the intervals off of the root.
And Chris, the dorian mode contains the minor seventh, you know that. If it had a minor third, major sixth, and the major seventh then it would be the melodic minor!!!! Look in your theory book, it's in the first chapter.
- G, Potomac, MD
Poor explanation of the Dorian mode. It is built on the intervals that would keep a D to D scale entirely on white keys.

Root-W-H-W-W-W-H-W (w= whole step; h = half)
- G, Potomac, MD
this is the first beatle song i listen to. it mad me sad, but it was so pretty. it talks about loneliness and sadness, and yet people of all kinds love it. quit odd isn't it?
- Tay, San Diego, CA
Sarah - My interpretation has always been that Lennon (who was very well known to be against organized religion) was using the line "Darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there.. What does he care?" to reference Father Mackenzie's part as yet another cog in the machine that is "The Church".

I believe that line specifically meant that he (Father Mackenzie) is spending his spare time working for himself and his church's image (by writing/improving upon his sermon for posterity/perfection, and darning his socks in order to serve his own vanity and to properly maintain his priestly image) instead of using that time to help the people his church claims to care for and serve.

The song as a whole (in my opinion) is essentially the story of Eleanor (the general religious public) turning to faith due to her loneliness (depression/mourning/need for attention/whatever else) in order to fill that hole in her life. Father Mackenzie's (representing the church as a whole) attention is focused entirely on superficial goals (sounding good to attract more potential tithers and looking good to maintain image) to notice Eleanor's needs - something a "true" man of faith would have put ahead of his own desires.

I've always wondered about her death, though. How I interpret the song has always lead me to think that Eleanor committed suicide (although F.Mac. buried her even though she committed a mortal sin, possibly suggesting that the church lacks belief in it's own faith?) so people would finally realize that she had needed help, but even after her death her priest (the uncaring "faithful") ignored her, leading to what I believe to be the most important line of the song - "No one was saved" - essentially saying that both the faithful and the Church are going about religion in a horribly perverse manner. (The needy grasping at faith to "fix" their lives, and organized religion taking advantage of them.. being concerned more with looking good and growing it's own numbers/power/money than with doing good.)

Or I could be over analyzing the song, which is far more likely ;)
- Greg, Franklin, NH
Uh... this really has nothing to do with the song, but rice doesn't really hurt birds. They can eat it. Back on topic, Eleanor Rigby is a beautiful but sad song. I think a lot of you guys are trying to over-analyze it though. It's really pretty simple, imo.
- Akara, Birmingham, AL
evan LaFragola, Edison, NJ.

It is a sign of good luck.
- Emily, Newcastle, Australia
I loved this song from the very firts time I'd listen to, and still feel so! The unusual strings effect most probably due to some sound engineering tricks at that time of recordings. But as good as it is! A very sad story, and amazing music.
- Miklos, Érd, Hungary
Responding to Chris in Athens re Dorian mode
Excellent musical analysis - works for me.
But one oversight -
"When you turn it into dorian, you start your scale with A instead of G --
A, B, C (flattened third), D, E, F#(major sixth), G (major seventh)."

The interval between A and G is a MINOR seventh, not a major seventh.
Cheers.
- SEAMUS, denvill, NJ
does anyone know what the eye on george harrisons hand means in that famous picture?
- evan LaFragola, Edison, NJ
Well now, I always imagined that this song was about the death/murder of Eleanor Rigby by Father McKenzie.
I always imagined in a more sinister light to be honest. This was mostly caused by the lines "wiping the dirt from his hands". To the best of my knowledge priests don't bury the dead themselves. (I could be wrong about that)
But after reading William from Memphis, TN's judgment I'm not so sure anymore.
- Mak, Orlando, FL
Eric, I get that about the string players, but what I'm saying is, I don't think this can be classified as a rock song. Also the Eleanor Rigby grave being near where John first met Paul is rather creepy. Quite an eerie coincidence.
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI
I believe George Harrison came up with the line
all the lonely people and John lennon based on an idea of friend Peter Shotton wrote the verse about ER's death
- Michael, melbourne, Australia
This is good, but contains absolutely no elements of rock. No guitar, no keyboards, no drums.
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI
I always found that this song was about two really lonely people who finally come to a meeting point. Unfortunately they can't be together and be friends because she has died and he is the priest presiding over the funeral.
To me Eleanor Rigby signifies the people who have never given up but hide their true feelings under another face, in her case makeup. Father McKenzie to me reprsents the people who continue feeling they will make a difference one day.
"What does he care?"- Father McKenzie will never give up.
"Who is it for?"- Eleanor Rigby will never be noticed but she won't stop.
"All the lonely people, where do they come from?"- This is the exasperation of people that confront these two characters.
"Noone was saved."- Noone cares anymore about anyone or anything.
This song, to me, is about the lives of the the everymen and their fight to be noticed by people who don't care. It is about the lonely people essentially. This is to tell people to turn around and say 'thank you' or 'how are you?' instead of just walking away.
Eleanor Rigby is the want to be noticed. Father McKenzie is the need to have someone notice. Eleanor wishes to have someone care enough for her so the rice she picks up represents her desire to be noticed by doing something that will catch people's attention. The sermon noone will hear represents McKenzie's attempts, noone will care.
"Eleanor Rigny died in the church and was buried alone with her name. Nobody came. Father McKenzie, wipes his hands of the dirt from the grave. Nobody was saved."
- William, Memphis, TN
No one was saved because Eleanor Rigby died and nobody learned anything from her death because she spent her life alone, alienated from the rest of the world. Think about it people.
- Forrest, Rochester, MN
One of two songs on which The Beatles performed no instruments. The other was Your Mother Should Know. Enjoy. Gary
- Gary, Seattle, WA
To Chris, Athens, GA:

A-C minor 3th not flattened
A-G minor 7th not major

You talk about "D minor dorian mode" which is wrong. Either minor mode or dorian. But only one of them. They are different things. A scale cannot be minor and dorian at the same time. Minor (aeolian) intervals: tsttstt.
Dorian intervals: tstttst.

Joe
- Jozsef, Bekescsaba, Hungary
Seems that what is really lacking here is any kind of discussion about the impact loneliness has on all of us. It seems as though it is not mentioned much in any of these discussions because frankly people are embarrassed to admit that they've ever been lonely. Perish the thought. As one person here put it, the characters in this song are "losers". What, just because they're lonely? Another person here said, "failure". These judgements seem silly, shallow and condemning. They don't seem in keeping with the sympathy that the song evokes. Keep it real, folks.
- Heather, Los Angeles, CA
Rick Springfield was in Oz band ZOOT in the 60's & 70'a & they did a Heavy Metal version of this. It's so bad it's funny. The version they did on GTK (an old pop show showcasing local bands on the ABC is
priceless. Love those camera zooms in & out...
Watch Rick throw his guitar in the air & caqtch it again. This was Zoot's only charting top 40 hit &
NO radio station plays it anymore.
- Nunzio, Darwin, Australia
yes, Eleanor Rigby and Father McKenzie are real. I stayed on Eleanor's grave at Saint Peter's church's graveyard. In front of it is father Mckenzie's one.
- agostina, newick, England
I remember hearing his song in late 1966 when I was a child, and the effect it had on me. In fact it was the only Beatles song that I can remember from when it actually came out. Like an earlier commentor, I agree that it is a stunning song - along with "A Day in the Life", I would call it the Beatles' most remarkable song. Because we have all heard it so many times it is easy to forget its initial impact.
- Paul, Sacramento, CA

Paul - I am in total agreement with you - A Day in the Life is my favorite Beatle number (an extremely difficult choice to make since they have so many brilliant songs!) - Eleanor Rigby is all have said out here - a stunning masterpiece
- ranjit, madras, India
I like this song. I'm thinkin' that this song ought to be played at a symphony. I mean, think about it: the violin. That's so classical. The Beatles mixed rock-and-roll with classical. I think that's catchy. Something catchy in that way was missing until the Beatles filled in that Gap.
- andrew, birmingham, United States
I dont know who did the cover but a covr of this song was played in the movie "Accepted" starring Justin Long when he looks outside and all of the kids who clicked the website are standing there..



Also,,,,,i LOVE this song.
- Alex, New City, NY
One of the "facts" above states that Paul got the title from a store (Rigby) and a movie star (Eleanor Bron). About six boxes down it states that there is a gravestone for an Eleanor Rigby at the St. Peter's Churchyard in Woolton (misspelled as Wooton), England. What are the odds! Not. Someone should check their facts don't contradict each other before posting them up.

P.S. The 2000 film In His Life: The John Lenon Story supports the gravestone story. But that movie has quite a few little miss-truths in it, so I wouldn't count on its authority.
- Maha, Auckland, New Zealand
There is something about this song that I like. It's a little sad but it's awesome.
- krissy, Boston, MA
Correct-amoondo
Aussie band Zoot's version is sensational.
- john, melbourne, australia, Australia
Eleanor Rigby is a classic masterpiece the likes of which you won't hear from any other band,proving that the Beatles were always one step ahead of all the other bands.This song combines string orchestration with a pop sound unique for it's time or any time for that matter.
- George, Belleville, NJ
*** There's been a lot of questioning and speculation about the meanings of several key phrases in this song, and having been college age at the time it came out, I thought I'd throw my two cents in. First let me say that this is the most depressing lyric they ever wrote. The Beatles were always the bright, cheery ones, while their alter-ego, the Stones, were the satanic, maniacal ones. There are a few exceptions to this on each side, and this is the most glaring one on their side. *** The Beatles (and quite a few other rock/pop groups of that era, but the Beatles were the most visible/vocal, esp. John) saw 'traditional' religion as foolish, a waste, enslavement of ordinary folks, at best a collection of pointless ritual, and this song oozes this attitude quite thickly. From this point of view, all religion does is to create legions of lonely people. So they give two examples. *** First there's E.R., who picks up wedding rice, maybe thinking it good luck for her own future marriage prospects, rather than actually going out and meeting people; and she "lives in a dream," "waits by the window," keeps her "face" (makeup) in a jar by the door, and "who is it for?" -- meaning, why does she bother when she has no one to look pretty for? *** Then there's that other loser, Fr. McK., who works all week on a sermon that nobody listens to anyway. The most useful thing he does is darn his socks alone at night, and he really doesn't give a hang about his flock, you know. *** So what becomes of these two? E.R. "dies in the church" (which, by the way, has a specific meaning, not the very literal one, but rather that she died 'in the faith,' or 'in a state of grace'). And Fr. McK. goes through the usual, zombie-like ritual that befalls him as a man of the cloth (Patrick of Tallapoosa, Ga, et al, has the explanation for the dirt). No one was saved (in the spiritual sense), because it's all just meaningless ritual, anyway. No one is ever saved by this stuff. *** So that's what I take away from what the boys from Liverpool meant. Having said this, I must also add that this is one of their most stunning compositions. My kid sister was in HS at the time, and her English teacher had the class analyze the lyrics one day as they did any great classic or modern poem. (I hasten to add that I never learned what they said about it, so none of that has informed the views given here.) My view is, whether you agree with the point of view in the song or not, it makes a very persuasive appeal qua argument. As one tiny example, the two words, "Father McKenzie," immediately tell everyone, "Catholic priest," and much more succinctly than any of this rambling commentary I've written says anything at all. *** I also want to commend several of the other commentators here (and you know who you are! - lol) for sharing their excellent impressions, and thereby causing me to question some of my own.
- Fred, Laurel, MD
Well, anyone who thinks the Father McKenzie killed Eleanor Rigby because of the "wiping the dirt from his hands" thing. Do you remember that at funerals, sometimes the preacher sprinkles dirt on the coffin and says a short prayer before the dirt is shoveled over the coffin? I just figured I would let anyone who didn't know that, know it. lol I figured it might be useful.
- Matt, Walled Lake, MI
I have one outstanding memory of this song it was released as the B side to yellow submarine which I am told was released on 11 Aug 1967 ( my 3rd birthday) and sang it so much a grandmother bought the single for me ( my first record) the truely outstanding memory of a wonderful song is That I remember playing Eleanor Rigby as I did my homework at around 10 11 pm to wake the next morning to find John Lennon had been Shot and killed around the time I played my reord ( I have never played it since) SAD AND SPOOKY FOR A SAD AND HAUNTING SONG
- John, Didcot , England
This song is so beautiful.
It was the 2nd Beatles' song I ever heard...
I fell in love!
- alekx, Colorado Springs, CO
The vocals were sent through a Leslie speaker and then with ADT and the song is in Dorian Mode and Paul did help with the string arrangemen.
- joe, montvale, NJ
I think the song is brillant.

What I found most interesting is the irony of Eleanor's death in the church.

The lyrics obviously imply that Eleanor ribgy and the priest live lonely lives, and perform their actions in vain.

In the final verse, Eleanor's attendence to church is the only opportunity to connect with the priest, and resolve her/his loneliness, but death takes her first. Sad, and ironic.

One of the reasons I enjoy this song is that is open to interpretation, and its not conventional. It's quirky, different, and obviously well composed.
- sandy, new york, MA
I can't think of a song by a rock group with no rock instruments and only having a string octet and vocals also a number 1 song.
Sal,Bardonia, NY
- sal, bardonia , NY
I dont know if this is true or not, but I was told by a friend of mine that the string part towards the end of the song, right when it gets pretty loud and forceful sounding, is actually taken from psycho. He said that paul actually met with the creator of psycho and i think there was mention that the same musicians were used that played that music in the movie. just thought i'd throw that in there to see if anyone knows or not. my source is very reliable when it comes to this kind of thing so......
- Tom, Drexel Hill, PA
I agree with most of the comments but what I want to know is what the verse "Darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there,What does he care?" means! little weird?
- sarah, sarasota, FL
Ok here's my opinion(sorry in advance it's so long):

it seems like no one knows the old expression about 'putting on her face'. It means a woman's makeup. I think it was around at least into the beatles' childhoods. A woman 'put on her face' before she went outside, poeple didn't go around without being dressed up.

so eleanor made herself look good before she went outside,that's why it's by the door. Then it asks who it was for, as in no one notices her anyway.

Father McKensey(?) gives a sermon every week which while be ignored by the church goers. Most people(that i know) don't much pay attention to the speeches gives at church. He tries to look his best too, but no one notices him, and they ask 'what does he care?'.

Then eleanor dies and was buried 'along with her name', as if no one thought of her after. No one even knew her enough to go to her funeral- well the Father went, but that doesn't count :). No one got 'saved' by him, as in none of the church goers really absorbed his message.
- Lizz, Tampa, FL
One of my favorites!
The music is catchy, and the odd lyrics- in my opinion- keep it from becoming sappy. A lesser band might have written something cheesy like:
Waits at the window/wearing a face aged with hope and dispair/nobody cares
The enigmatic lady who wears the face that she keeps in a jar by the door is way more interesting.
- Jennifer, Los Angeles, CA
To J, from Brooklyn.

You questioned whether "Eleanor Rigby" is actually in dorian mode or not. Dorian mode has a minor (flattened) third, and a major sixth and seventh. Before I get really technical, anyone who might not understand music theory might not want to read on because you may become even more confused than before.


The reason that you can't find the C# in the actual key signature is because this song is written in E-minor, which is that same as G-major. G-major only has one sharp, which is F. The dorian mode is built on the second step of the major scale using the same notes. It's very very similar to a natural minor scale, EXCEPT that the sixth note is raised a half step. Take D-minor, for example. The typical D-minor scale would have a B flat in it, while the dorian mode scale would have a B natural. Because it is so similar to a minor scale, it's easier to play in dorian mode over a minor seventh. The natural B in the D-minor dorian mode has less dissonance than the B flat would from the typical D-minor. When you use dorian mode over the minor seventh, there aren't any notes to avoid.

So to explain what I just wrote: The song is in E-minor, but you can look at it from a G-major point of view with only one sharp, F. When you turn it into dorian, you start your scale with A instead of G -- A, B, C (flattened third), D, E, F#(major sixth), G (major seventh). So, although it seems somewhat suspicious, with some C sharps written in (most likely to stop dissonance between chords and notes), it really is written in dorian mode. Sorry I had to be so in-depth, but there really isn't a much easier way to explain it without stating technicalities.

Cheers.
- Chris, Athens, GA
When it says "no one was saved" it means that noone converted to Christianity and thus "saved" because father McKenzie was doing everything in vain.
- Nirvana, Candada, Canada
Thrice did a cover of this song.
- emily, asdf, IA
Ok, this is what this song is about, it is about a woman who really wants to get married, hense the first verse. Face in a jar is she gets all dressed up for nothing. Father McKenzie may like Eleanor but cant get married cuz hes a priest and she dies lonley, any questions comment back
- Stephen, Bellport, NY
George Martin did not "compose" this song. He added the score for the backing string section (obviously influenced by Vivaldi), but Paul wrote the melody, and he and John wrote the lyrics. Both Paul and the 60's artist Donovan insinuated that Donovan may have contributed to the song, and Lennon smarted about this very thing in a later interview (the idea that Paul would ask anyone who happened to be near to help contribute to whatever song he was working on) when speaking about the writing of this tune.
George Martin's contributions were significant, but he was merely polishing the raw stuff the Beatles brought to him.
- Garrett, Nashville, TN
"Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door..." I think that this signifies that when she goes out, she doesn't act like herself. She acts like somebody else. While when she's at home, that is not the case.
- Rachael, -, Canada
I've just been married here in Poland and it's still a very common custom to throw rice at the couple as well as small change and sweets. It took us a few minutes to pick up all of the sweets and money but nobody was interested in collecting the rice. We joked about using a vacuum cleaner as there was nobody to pick it up. Placing dirt on the casket is also practised at funerals.
- Rafa? Kawiorski, Kielce, Poland
I Love This Song. But there is one thing that always confused me? Who Said "Ah! Look at all the Lonley People"?
- Darius, Lancaster, CA
Ian from lethbridge, My friend thought the exact same way! She's still singing 'lonely people'!!! LOL
- Buzz, Hamilton
I remember hearing his song in late 1966 when I was a child, and the effect it had on me. In fact it was the only Beatles song that I can remember from when it actually came out. Like an earlier commentor, I agree that it is a stunning song - along with "A Day in the Life", I would call it the Beatles' most remarkable song. Because we have all heard it so many times it is easy to forget its initial impact.
- Paul, Sacramento, CA
There's a mashup out there of Eleanor Rigby and Kraftwerk, by 2 Many DJs (?). It's the most damned beautiful thing I've ever heard.
- Pete, NY, NY
This was actually composed by George Martin,the Beatles producer. Paul had intended the song to be guitar, bass, and drums,but Mr. Martin felt that it would be better his way. George Martin was very influencial in the direction many of their songs took, and his unofficial title was the "fifth Beatle".
- Scott, Chattanooga, TN
i hate how people here are saying things about the song as if everything you said was fact.
say that its your interpratation not
"this song IS about"
its kinda concited sounding.
- john, williamstown, NJ
too many people seem to be unimformed as to the origins of the rice throwing tradition so here it is.

back in the old superstitious days people thought demons flocked to events such as weddings to feed upon all the happiness of the people, so they would throw rice to distract he demons.
people stopped believing in the traditions but habits die hard.
however after people had been "wounded" it ceased
- john, williamstown, NJ
Paul compsed this song in a different manner than he was accustomed to. He did it at the piano with only the notes, the difference is that he usually composes with full chords. He also noted that "You Won't See Me" was composed in the same manner-picking notes rather than playing chords.
- Brian, Sydney, Canada
W.H Auden's poem 'miss gee' really reminds me of this song. I was wondering if the Beatles were ever inspired by the poem
- Chitra, Bangalore, India
This is a stunning song. It was this song that caused my daughter to take notice of the Beatles music. My son and I visited Liverpool last summer and decided to see if we could find the Eleanor Rigby grave. We located St. Peters church and it was late afternoon on a Sunday. We were wandering around the cemetery looking and someone came out of the church. I thought he was going to yell at us, but he didn't. He was very nice and pointed out the tombstone. He even gave us a reprint of the church bulletin that advertised the performance by the Quarry Men from July 6, 1957, which was where John and Paul first met. We gave him a few pounds for a donation to the church. If you ever get the chance to visit England, spend a couple of days in Liverpool. You will really enjoy seeing the early Beatles landmarks and boyhood homes, etc.
- Steve, Fenton, MO
I had always thought that this song was about a little puritan settlement that was plagued and slowly but surely the entire town died. As loved ones passed on their survivors suffered alone."All the lonely" would go to church and pray during the day ,so father McKenzie would only have time for himself at night.Elenors face in a jar was make up to hide the sores and the sermon he wrote was his last,for her.Think about it "no-one comes near"
- mike, plainfield, CT
I always thought they were saying "lovely people", not "lonely people." Now this song makes much more sense!
- Ian, Lethbridge, Canada
C# is the note that would make this song in dorian. I just checked my Beatles score book and they also do not put the C# in the key signature but instead write it as an accidental when in it occurs. Now I and a well researched score book agree that this is not in the dorian mode. Now all the claims on this page are suspect.
- J, brooklyn, NY
Maybe I'm being picky, but I just did a very quick check and not in depth analysis of the claim that it's in the dorian mode and to me it looks like at best it's a mixed mode of dorian and the normal minor scale. This casts doubt on the rest of the claims on this page. Was any fact checking done or is this just a list of rumored facts you've heard about this song?
- J, brooklyn, NY
I was a little younger when I first heard this song, so I'm still forming an opinion on it. I think these are good interpretations though.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
This is about two souls who live alone, both involved with the church. Father McKinzie, being of the collar, is forbidden to marry. Eleanor Rigby, for the same reasons, cannot marry him. She wants to date him, be with him, but the religion forbids it. Sort of like "Romeo and Juliet". The closest she can come to him is volunteering at the church, cleaning up the rice thrown after a wedding ceremony. Even though she cannot be with him, she can dream. She still puts on her makeup before she sees him, whether it's for Sunday services or otherwise. He is probably older than she is, or the same age. He finds out she has died, and decides to pay his last respects to her by placing the handful of dirt on her grave. The term "no one was saved" could possibly mean that no one was saved the heartbreak from her death, since he was secretly in love with her too. We can only assume that he either goes on with his life in the parish, or else takes his own life to be with her in the hereafter. The sermon no one hears could be his suicide letter. And why should he care? He will soon be with his beloved Eleanor.
- Patrick, Tallapoosa, GA
Another tidbit: the part dealing with the Father brushing dirt off his hands. In old traditions, it was customary for all the funeral attendees to place a handful of dirt on the casket while passing by, during the interment ceremony. The priest is the last to place a handful of dirt onto the casket after it is lowered into the grave. Very rarely is this tradition still followed today.
- Patrick, Tallapoosa, GA
Interesting how one song can mean different things to different people. I always took this song to be about mental illness. People who are mentally ill lead pretty lonely lies most times and they do things that don't seem to have any rhyme or reason to the rest of us. The also "live in a dream." Just my thoughts.
- Alyssa, New Orleans, LA
The facts are that Mcartney and Lennon as kids, played in the graveyard as youngsters opposite where they first met and performed music when John was still in the quarrymen. fact is there is an eleanor Rigby buried in the church grounds and two graves over is coincidently the grave of john mckenzie.
- Martyn, toronto, Canada
"Ah, look at all the lonely people" begins a Beatles classic, one of the first songs of the rock era to use classical instruments.
- Howard, St. Louis Park, MN
Paul says that this song is about an old, lonely woman. That's why I interpret the lyrics "Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in her jar by the door" as the fact that her husband was cremated and she has had the same sad face ever since.
- Sean, San Diego, CA
I fell in love with this song at the age of seven...I had some odd attachment to it as well as the rest of the songs. I always connected it with a fire at the church where Eleanor was being married, and that Eleanor was somehow responsible, therefore she was living forever in the church. This might just be my far-fetched, adolescent mind wandering into the realm of imagination, however the words simply conjure up this image for me. I believed people blamed Eleanor for the mass deaths of people attending the church, and that Father McKenzie, being the religious man he is, was obliged to write a sermon or eulogy about her, which no one would hear. The rice, at a wedding, of course...the mask, maybe something she wears just to relieve her problems with herself (?). All I know, is that this is my favorite song. Maybe not as well known as some others, but high above so many others.
- Lania, Nevada, NV
This song was also covered by Joan Baez - the song can be found on "Joan". It's very beautiful version, in my opinion! :)
- Amanda, New York City, NY
My class discussed this song in literature. She might have picked up the rice because her only friends were birds. It causes birds to die if they eat rice. "Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door". That could be refering to makeup, so she could have been trying to have someone notice her, but nobody did. This next part gets interesting. We thought that mabee Father McKenzie may have killed Eleanor Rigby. He was writhing a sermon that no one will her. Her could have known nobody would come to her funeral. He might not have any friends, so of course he would be alone when he darned his socks. Father McKenzie could have killed her in the church. He could have felt them growing together, but he was afraid of change, so he killed her. Then thats the sermon he was preparing. Then he burried her. Then he wasn't saved from his lonliness.
- austin, volga, SD
John Lennon claims he wrote %70 of this song while Paul McCartney claims Lennon only wrote 5 words. I almost think this is a McCartney song, but that doesn't change the fact that Lennon kicks Paul's fat rear end.
- Dan, Lee, NH
Sum Sum, One can tell you must be young, or not familiar with older customs in this country. Picking up rice from the church where a wedding has been... When I was married in 1969, it was the tradition to throw rice at the couple for good luck.

(by the way....it didnt work!!)
- lee, clearwater, FL
I've never had the chance to play them back to back to know for sure if it's all in my head or not, but I think this song and Three Dog's Night "One" (1969) sound very similar. I'm not sure if that's coincidence, or another example of the Beatles's influence. The themes of both songs are, at any rate, the same.

Oh, the rice question. I always thought Elenor worked at the same church as Father McKenzie. I pictured her cleaning up in the empty church after a wedding, which only accentuates (sp?) how alone she really is. Like being in a place haunted by someone else's joys that you're forever barred from. (Sort of like Peter Pan when he's watching the lost boys and Wendy share their adventures with Mr. and Mrs. Darling at the end of the book.)

I just realized that may not be what the question was asking, so to answer both possible meanings, it's not really done anymore, (It's not good for the birds if they eat it, and it's caused injuries. Juliette Gorden Lowe lost her hearing in one ear because of it.) but it used to be tradition to shower a newly-wed couple with rice as they left the church. I don't know the origins of that tradition, though. (If I had to guess, I'd say it's somehow connected with wishing the couple prosperity and fertility, and so on.)Hope that thoroughly answers the question.
I think "Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door" refers to the pancake that she uses before going out..somehow i didnt understand "picks up the rice in the church where the wedding has been". Whats wedding got to do with picking rice?
- sum sum, New Delhi, India
The press told Paul that someone said the song was about a lesbian. Pauls answer was: We like to write songs about lesbians. I loved it!
- lee, clearwater, FL
I think that the line "Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door" means that she wears makeup at the window, for others to see her, except no one notices her.
- tiago, Lisbon, Portugal
George, John and Ringo do backing vocals and no instruments while Paul does lead vocals and plays BASSOON!! amazing!
- Mark, Barrow-in-Furness, England
Just another reminder that people die everyday, and we don't even notice, or even care...
- Mauricio, Hanford, CA
The title 'Eleanor Rigby' came from an actual gravestone that was there when Paul first met John.

I love this song to death.
- sophia, Mesquite, TX
Eleanor Rigby is about a woman named Eleanor and a man named Father Mckenzie who are both very lonely. If they had just met eachother they would not have been lonely any more, but Eleanor died before they got the chance. So the line "no one was saved" means that if they had met, both of them would have been saved from their lonliness.
- Ben, Albuquerque, NM
I remember as a child being miserable each time I heard this song because it was so sad. I was upset with The Beatles for having written it.
- Calum, Edinburgh, Scotland
John Lennon claimed that he wrote the last verse of the song when Paul cound't come up ith how to end the story. John also claimed that he came up with the idea of "Father McCartney" but Paul vetoed it, in deference to his father.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
My friend and I have a pencil adoption buisness (don't ask) and whenever we saw someone walk by we woul sing "All the lonely pencils, where do they all belong, all the lonely pencil, where do they all come from?" It was pretty funny. Awesome song.
- Laura, Santa Fe, NM
This song is pretty cool it has a realy unusal sound but the song itself is kinda depressing. makes you think about sad lonely things and you start singing that song where they are like "all bye myself don't wana be all by myself" and you relize life realy sucks and you want to crawl under a rock and watch the world go by...or mabye thats a little to extreame you could just go eat a lot of chocolate and put in yellow submarin that song always makes me smile
- Erica, Hampstead, NC
i heard that in about 1984, while in liverpool, paul stumbled upon a gravestone with the heading 'elenor rigby'. he said it really freaked him out. And it was very close to were he first met john. odd.
- mammothdave, london, England
In early 2004, the chorus was sampled on "Lonely People", a song done by rapper Talib Kweli. Kanye West produced the beat and had violinist Miri Bin Ari play the violin melody when not using the sample of the actual song. It was originally going to go on Kweli's album "The Beautiful Struggle" but the album leaked onto the internet before it was officially finished. Kweli made some changes before releasing the album in September 2004. This song wasn't included on the official album, probably because Kanye couldn't get the sample cleared. Though it didn't make the official album, it was used on "The Beautiful Mix CD", a 13-track mixtape collection of freestyles and newly recorded offerings.
- Nick, Erwin, NC
This song and a variation/adaption of it is used in the film GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROAD STREET when Paul McCartney is searching for the lost master tape of his last recording.
- Enrique, Lima, Peru
To Charles in North Carolina -- how do you know that Ringo contributed the line about the priest "darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there"? I'm just curious. Also, I've thought for some time that Ringo had more singing ability as a Beatle (in addition to his terrific drumming) than he's given credit for -- as for writing lyrics, I don't know how much of that he did as a Beatle. Thanks.
- Vickie, Philadelphia, PA
"Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door"..? what is the point?

I've heard that what Paul was referring to by this is a jar of makeup. Rather the "face" that a woman puts on when she is dolled up and ready to go out. This song is a masterpiece with pretty smart, poetic writing. Who needs rock and roll instruments? The strings and the writing make this song.
- Darren, Chicago, IL
I love this song..!!! Its brilliant and also so, so sad! Just the other day I heard the "String version" and it was great, But McCartneys voice were missing..! There is only one thing about the song I sont get; "Waits at the window, wering the face that she keeps in a jar by the door"..? what is the point?
I have heard that some people think that Paul already knew about the real E.R. and that it was from her Paul got his inpiration for the song..!
Anyway.. you gotta love the song
- Luna, Esbjerg, Denmark
I must have heard this song for 5 - 10 years before I noticed it lacked the staples for (almost) all rock/pop music: no drums, no bass guitar, and no electric (or acoustic) guitar. Pretty nifty, eh?
- Reggie, Kemptville, ON
- Reg, Kemptville, ON, Canada
Paul actually hated having the strings, and said recently he regretted having them in the first place.
- tom, brisbane, Australia
Nice song. Thought inspiring. Too bad the Beatles didn't know the truth about lonliness and people.
- Paul, SanDiego, CA
To Mike from Chicago:
If you're referring to the line near the beginning, it sounds a bit like "where her wedding has been" but I'm pretty sure that it's "where a wedding has been." Definitely a sad song.
- Andrew, Chicago, IL
You can see a picture of Eleanor Rigby's stone in Woolton (her name is about half way down)here: http://www.music.indiana.edu/som/courses/rock/england/rigby.gif
- Merry, Linton, IN
There's a statue of Eleanor Rigby sitting on a bench in liverpool it says "to all the lonely people" you can sit on the bench and keep Eleanor company.
- Catherine, Glasgow, England
the strings add everything
- Dave, Springfield, United States
If you look at the lyric closely you can see that Elenor has/had a husband. Very sad song, indeed
- Mike, Chicago, IL
The chorus of "Eleanor Rigby" was sampled as part of Sinead O'Connor's Song, "Famine" in 1994.
- Annabelle, Eugene, OR
I love how trippy this song, the way the lyrics go from left to right then during the courus it goes to both speakers...it really messed me up for a bit
- Corey, Vancouver, Canada
great song, sad story
- kabrams, Dallas, TX
This is a great song; too bad other bands can't find their own music to play. Just goes to show you how great the Beatles were! I love them and never get tire of hearing them and this sounds weird but I would feel like I was being unfaithful listening to another band do one of their songs; lol. I grew up with them and am a Beatles nut and had a huge amount of respect for all four of them as a group and solo.
- Shirley, Ocean, NJ
Father McKenzie was a priest in Scotland who performed satanic rituals? Not as far as I can recall! Paul McCartney wanted a name that started with "Mc", so he stuck a pin in the "M" section of the Liverpool telephone directory and, with McCartney being a fairly common name, as luck would have it, he came up with "McCartney". However, he thought that if he used that name, then people would be forever asking "Is that about your dad then?" so he changed it to "McKenzie".
- Si, London, England
I agree that this is a pretty sad song. Kind of strange that it's in Yellow Submarine, but then, that's a pretty strange movie. ;)
- Paulo, New York, NY
Australian band Zoot had a hit with what I reckon is the coolest ever version of this track in 1971. Rick Springfield, who was guitarist in the band at the time, arranged it. It totally rocks!
- David, Gosford, Australia
When word first got out that the original priest's name was to be McCartney, it helped to fuel the rumors that Paul was dead.
- Patrick, Conyers, GA
the chords are Em,C thats all!
- adam, St. Paris, OH
useless trivia: Eleanor Bron was an actress in the film "Help!"
- don, rapid city, SD
I've actually seen Eleanor Rigby's grave in Liverpool, it is across the street from where John and Paul met for the first time.
- Marie, NYC, NY
father mackenzie was a priest in scottland who aledgedly preformed satanic ceremonies and was leader of a religeous cult
- Rory, camden, NJ
Ringo contributed the line about the padre 'darning his socks in the night'.
- Charles, Charlotte, NC
What does this song mean? Listen to the lyrics--they are among the most brilliant the Beatles ever wrote. Elenor Rigby is a lonely old women with no husband/friends. She goes about life without truly living. Father McKenzie is a preist who also has no friends/loved ones and preaches to a church that no one goes to. He goes about his daily routines but, as Paul quips, "what is it for?" Finally, E.R. dies and "is burried alone with her name; nobody came." Father McKenzie burries her but since there is no audience, "No one was saved" and he is a failure. "All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?" Sad stuff.
- Matthew, New York, NY
What does the song actually mean?
- D, Bay Shore, NY
According to "The Beatles Anthology" pg 208, the graveyard that Eleanor Rigby is buried in is in Woolton, not Wooton. Paul is sure he made up the name from two different sources but the fact there is a real person with this name seems an amazing coincidence. Apparently, a few yards to the right of E.R.'s grave there is someone called McKenzie!
- Ross, Auckland, New Zealand
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