Tuesday 5 September 2023


In 2021 Paul discussed the origins of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” “It did feel like a breakthrough for me lyrically — more of a serious song,” he recalled. “George Martin had introduced me to the string-quartet idea through ‘Yesterday.’ I’d resisted the idea at first, but when it worked, I fell in love with it. So I ended up writing ‘Eleanor Rigby’ with a string component in mind. When I took the song to George, I said that, for accompaniment, I wanted a series of E-minor chord stabs. In fact, the whole song is really only two chords: C major and E minor.

“In George’s version of things, he conflates my idea of the stabs and his own inspiration by Bernard Herrmann, who had written the music for the movie Psycho,” Paul added. “George wanted to bring some of that drama into the arrangement. And, of course, there’s some kind of madcap connection between Eleanor Rigby, an elderly woman left high and dry, and the mummified mother in Psycho.”

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features an interview from 1980. In the interview, John was asked about “Eleanor Rigby.”

John said that he, not Paul, was the primary composer of the track. He said Paul wrote the first verse while he wrote the rest of the verses. In addition, John credited George with the famous “Ah, look at all the lonely people” hook.

He said the string section of “Eleanor Rigby” was inspired by Paul’s love of the composer Antonio Vivaldi. In John’s recollection, Paul’s girlfriend, Jane Asher, got Paul interested in Vivaldi.

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