Paul McCartney Reveals ‘Eleanor Rigby’ Inspiration In Book Excerpt

‘Later, I would offer to go and get her shopping. She’d give me a list and I’d bring the stuff back, and we’d sit in her kitchen,’ McCartney wrote about Ms. Rigby.

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Paul McCartney - Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images
Paul McCartney - Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Paul McCartney has shared an excerpt from his forthcoming book The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present, in which he remembers the inspiration for “Eleanor Rigby.”

Eleanor Rigby is based on an old lady that I got on with very well,” McCartney wrote in a piece published by The New Yorker. “I found out that she lived on her own, so I would go around there and just chat, which is sort of crazy if you think about me being some young Liverpool guy.

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“Later, I would offer to go and get her shopping. She’d give me a list and I’d bring the stuff back, and we’d sit in her kitchen. I still vividly remember the kitchen, because she had a little crystal-radio set […] So I would visit, and just hearing her stories enriched my soul and influenced the songs I would later write.”

McCartney also remembered the fact that his original name for Eleanor Rigby was Daisy Hawkins. “I can see that ‘Hawkins’ is quite nice, but it wasn’t right. 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 right.”

Showcasing many further treasures from Paul’s archive, The Lyrics includes handwritten lyric sheets, unseen personal photographs, drafts, and drawings. Each song is accompanied by a commentary by Paul McCartney giving a unique insight into his creative process.

To accompany the new book, the British Library has announced it will host a free display entitled Paul McCartney: The Lyrics (November 5 2021 – March 13 2022), which will celebrate the songwriter and performer and feature previously unseen lyrics from his personal archive. Handwritten lyrics and photographs spanning McCartney’s career will reveal the process and people behind some of the most famous songs of all time, from his earliest compositions through legendary decades of The Beatles and Wings to the present.

The Lyrics is out on November 5 and available for pre-order.

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