The second song on the "Revolver" LP is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by Paul entitled "Eleanor Rigby". The story is basically about a spinster and a priest. The name of the spinster was inspired by the actress Eleanor Bron who played the part of Ahme in the movie "Help!" along with the Beatles. The last name was chosen at the sight of a shop in Bristol while he was visiting his then actress-girlfriend, Jane Asher. The original name for the spinster was Daisy Hawkins. This does not make too much sense as the syllables of the first name is different. Oh, well. Another version of the story states that the name of the spinster already exists on a gravestone at St. Peter's in Woolton, Liverpool which happens to be where John and Paul originally met and also where they used to hang out when skipping school classes. The name of the priest was originally Father McCartney but was later changed (for obvious reasons) to Father MacKenzie via a name check in the local London phone book.
The first recording session for "Eleanor Rigby" was held at EMI studio two on Thursday Paril 28 1966 with both John and Paul present for the sessions. None of the Beatles played any instruments on this recording. The musicians for this first session consisted of a double string quartet. Fourteen takes of the strings took place with some experimentation ( vibrato, no vibrato, etc.) . Also, the microphones for the recording was placed very,very close to the instruments and that had rarely been done at the time. Since the recording of the eight instruments took up all of the four track space, a tape reduction was completed as take 15.
The next day on Friday April 29 1966 at EMI studio three, vocals overdubbed were completed by Paul and backing vocals by John, Paul and George. The recording was now deemed as over with and three mono mixes were attempted from the control room of studio three. Unfortunately, there was another overdub to complete and the three mono mixes from this session were never used.
On Monday June 06 1966, approximately five weeks after first recording "Eleanor Rigby", the Beatles once again took the master tape out of the vault and a final McCartney vocal overdub was completed. This vocal is the "AH, Look at all the lonely people" lives over the final chorus.
On Wednesday June 22 1966 from the control room of Studio three, two mono mixes (remix 4 and 5 from take 15) were completed as well as the stereo mix which was also conducted on the same date from the same location ( 1 remix only for the stereo). When listening to the stereo mix, note that the very first word in the first verse is double tracked and the engineer is slightly late in taking off the double tracking effect. Therefore, apart from the first few syllables, the verse is single tracked. The mono version has the complete first verse single tracked.
"Eleanor Rigby" was released as a single in both the UK (Parlophone R 5493) on August 05 1966 - the same day as the "Revolver" UK LP. In North America, the song was also released as a single (Capitol 5715) on August 08 1966 which was the same day as the "Revolver" US LP. It was the first time that a Beatles single was released with two tracks pulled from an LP and not specifically recorded as a singles track. This double A single also featured "Yellow Submarine" in the UK and North America. This tune will be discussed in a later post.
"Eleanor Rigby" appears on the Parlophone UK LP/CD "Revolver" as well as the North American Capitol LP/CD "Revolver". The song is also featured on the Parlophone UK LP "A Collection of Beatles Oldies" and on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1962-1966" as well as the EMI/Parlophone UK LP "20 Greatest Hits" (it does not appear on the North American version however). The song also appears on the Apple/EMI 2-LP/CD "1".
A remix of the song that was reconstructed from the original tapes appears on the Apple/EMI LP/CD "Yellow Submarine Songtrack" and an instrumental pre-vocal remix from take 14 appears on the Apple/EMI "Anthology 2".
"Eleanor Rigby" appears in the Apple film "Yellow Submarine" but strangely does not appear on the Apple LP/CD "Yellow Submarine".
"Eleanor Rigby" won a grammy award in 1966 for "Best contemporary Vocal Performance".
The song has been played live by Paul McCartney during his 1989/1990 World Tour and a version of this performance can be heard on the EMI 3-LP/2-CD "Tripping the Live Fantastic"