Paul McCartney on the Woman Who Inspired “Eleanor Rigby”


Paul McCartney shared an excerpt from his upcoming book The lyrics: 1956 to the present day, in which he recalls the inspiration for one of his best-known Beatles songs, “Eleanor Rigby”.

Writing about his childhood in Liverpool, McCartney recalled doing chores for local residents during Boy Scouts’ Bob-a-Job Week, during which he met an old lady who would inspire the song. .

“Eleanor Rigby is based on an old lady I get along with really well,” McCartney wrote in an excerpt posted by The New Yorker. “I found out she lived on her own so I was walking around there and chatting, which is kinda crazy if you think I’m a young guy from Liverpool.

“Later, I would suggest that he go get it. She would give me a list and I would bring back the things, and we would sit in her kitchen. I still remember the kitchen very well because it had a small crystal radio […] So I was visiting him and just hearing his stories enriched my soul and influenced the songs I would write later.

McCartney also recounted the fact that her original name for Eleanor Rigby was Daisy Hawkins. “I can see ‘Hawkins’ is pretty cool, but it just wasn’t fair. Jack Hawkins had played Quintus Arrius in Ben hur. Then there was Jim Hawkins, from one of my favorite books, Treasure island. But it wasn’t fair.

Although there is a grave attributed to an Eleanor Rigby in the graveyard of St Peter’s Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool, where McCartney and John Lennon spent time sunbathing as a teenager, it is believed to be a coincidence.

“I don’t remember seeing the grave there, but I guess maybe I recorded it subliminally,” McCartney wrote.

He has previously said that the name Eleanor was inspired by actress Eleanor Bron, who starred in the 1965 Beatles movie. To help!, while Rigby is based on a store called Rigby & Evens Ltd, Wine & Spirit Shippers which he saw in Bristol.

McCartney’s two-volume book is released on November 2 and will chronicle the musician’s life through his early childhood compositions, songs by the Beatles and Wings, and his long solo career. In August, he revealed the names of the 154 songs featured.

To accompany the release, the British Library has announced that it will host a free exhibition titled Paul McCartney: The Lyrics between November 5, 2021 and March 13, 2022, while the musician himself will discuss the book live at the Royal Festival Hall next month.


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