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.