Friday, December 25, 2009

Paul McCartney on "Eleanor Rigby"

"Well that started off with sitting down at the piano and getting the first line of the melody, and playing around with words. I think it was 'Miss Daisy Hawkins' originally; then it was her picking up the rice in a church after a wedding. That's how nearly all our songs start, with the first line just suggesting itself from books or newspapers.

"At first I thought it was a young Miss Daisy Hawkins, a bit like 'Annabel Lee,' but no so sexy; but then I saw I'd said she was picking up the rice in church, so she had to be a cleaner. She had missed the wedding, and she was suddenly lonely. In fact, she had missed it all -- she was the spinster type.

"Jane [Asher] was in a play in Bristol then, and I was walking 'round the streets waiting for her to finish. I didn't really like 'Daisy Hawkins' -- I wanted a name that was more real. The thought just came: 'Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice and lives in a dream' -- so there she was. The next thing was Father Mackenzie. It was going to be Father McCartney, but then I thought that was a bit of a hang-up for my dad, being in this lonely song. So we looked through the phone book. That's the beauty of working at random -- it does come up perfectly, much better than if you try to think it with your intellect.

"Anyway, there was Father Mackenzie, and he was just as I had imagined him, lonely, darning his socks. We weren't sure if the song was going to go on. In the next verse we thought of a bin man, an old feller going through dustbins, but it got too involved -- embarrassing. John and I wondered whether to have Eleanor Rigby and him have a thing going, but we couldn't really see how. When I played it to John we decided to finish it.

"That was the point anyway. She didn't make it, she never made it with anyone. She didn't even look as if she was going to."

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