Paul McCartney tells the story of writing Eleanor Rigby

In the New Yorker, Paul McCartney wrote down the story behind all the lonely people.

The song itself was consciously written to evoke the subject of loneliness, with the hope that we could get listeners to empathize. Those opening lines—“Eleanor Rigby / Picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been / Lives in a dream.” It’s a little strange to be picking up rice after a wedding. Does that mean she was a cleaner, someone not invited to the wedding, and only viewing the celebrations from afar? Why would she be doing that? I wanted to make it more poignant than her just cleaning up afterward, so it became more about someone who was lonely. Someone not likely to have her own wedding, but only the dream of one.

Allen Ginsberg told me it was a great poem, so I’m going to go with Allen.

October 19, 2021


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