Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Eleanor Rigby

All the Lonely People

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A scene from "Yellow Submarine" (1968) that accompanies "Eleanor Rigby."

"Eleanor Rigby" is a track from the Beatles album "Revolver," released on 5 August 1966. It is a classical string octet of a type that was not in fashion at the time, and certainly not for a popular rock band. While "Eleanor Rigby" is fairly short at 2:08, it has had a huge and long-lasting impact on popular music. There are some who believe that the Beatles were the best rock-and-roll band of all time, that "Revolver" was their best album, and that "Eleanor Rigby" was the best track on the album. It was released as a single on the same date as the album with "Yellow Submarine" as the flip side and reached No. 1 in the United Kingdom and No. 11 in the United States.

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Paul has this to say:
I was sitting at the piano when I thought of it. The first few bars just came to me, and I got this name in my head ... "Daisy Hawkins picks up the rice in the church". I don't know why. I couldn't think of much more so I put it away for a day. Then the name "Father McCartney" came to me, and all the lonely people. But I thought that people would think it was supposed to be about my Dad sitting knitting his socks. Dad's a happy lad. So I went through the telephone book and I got the name "McKenzie."
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"Eleanor Rigby" was on "Revolver," released 5 August 1966. It marked a departure for the Beatles toward a more innovative sound incorporating tape loops, backward recordings, and Indian music.

"Eleanor Rigby" provides a key sequence in the Beatles movie "Yellow Submarine" (1968). It is the second song in the film. While the Beatles themselves did not film a promotional film for "Eleanor Rigby," the "Yellow Submarine" film provides a ready-made music video.

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The film "Yellow Submarine" was a psychedelic animation romp and a huge hit for the Beatles.

There is no question that "Eleanor Rigby" is one of Paul McCartney's most respected compositions, and it was considered groundbreaking during the 1960s. That there really was an Eleanor Rigby buried in Liverpool only adds to the mystique of this classic. However, Paul McCartney himself has said that the character is completely fictitious and that the name is taken from an actress he had worked with on "Help!" named Eleanor Bron and a store named Rigby in Bristol.

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There is an actual Eleanor Rigby buried at St. Peter's Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool. That's kind of spooky, and Paul himself has said there may be some kind of subconscious connection.

Several top names in the music business have credited "Eleanor Rigby" as personal influences, including Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, songwriter Jerry Lieber, and composer others. Personally, I am hard pressed to think of a better marriage of images and music than the music video for "Eleanor Rigby."

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Statue of Eleanor Rigby by Tommy Steele on Stanley Street, Liverpool. A plaque states that it is "Dedicated to All the Lonely People."


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