Saturday, April 20, 2024

Paul McCartney Tells the Real Story of “Eleanor Rigby”: Her Name Was NOT on A Random Tombstone


IN the new issue of The New Yorker, Paul McCartney tells the story of how he wrote “Eleanor Rigby.”

The legend was her name was on a tombstone in a cemetery and Paul happened on it. Not true. Eleanor came from actress Eleanor Bron, who’d been in the movie “Help!” with the Beatles. “Rigby” came from a sign on a shop.

The “real” Eleanor Rigby was inspired by a senior citizen who Paul quite liked in Liverpool and used to visit when he was a teenager.

Father McKenzie in the song was going to be Father McCartney, but Paul changed it because he thought people would assume it was his own father.

Paul was thrilled became famed poet and writer William S. Burroughs praised the lyrics as a poem. McCartney recalls: “He said he was impressed by how much narrative I’d got into three verses. And it did feel like a breakthrough for me lyrically—more of a serious song.”

All of this comes from an essay in The New Yorker promoting Paul’s two volume book, “The Lyrics,” coming November 2nd, which will include lots of other anecdotes about 154 of his songs.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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