Paul McCartney was born in Liverpool, England, on June 18, 1942. He is one of the original members of the industry-shaking group, The Beatles. Even though he wrote primarily slow ballads like Let It Be, inspired by his mother’s death, he also penned songs like Lady Madonna, Back In The USSR, and Helter Skelter. After The Beatles broke up, he embarked on a solo career. His first two albums were McCartney in 1970 and Ram in 1971. Then, he formed the group Wings with his wife, Linda McCartney. The group became one of the most popular groups of the 70s, with five number one albums back to back. After John Lennon’s murder in 1980, McCartney stopped touring for a decade, fearing security issues. However, he kept busy with studio recordings and starring in the 1984 film Give My Regards to Broadstreet. He returned to the studio in 1989 and released Flowers in the Dirt. The same year he began touring again. His widespread musical influence and chart-topping success were why Queen Elizabeth II bestowed him the honor of knighthood. Sadly, the following year Linda McCartney died of cancer. According to Britannica, McCartney is one of the most successful musicians in the world. He has 60 gold records and over holds over a hundred million singles during his career. One of the most famous Beatles tracks, Yesterday, played on the radio over six million times between radio and television.
One of The Beatles’ most popular songs was Eleanor Rigby on the group’s album Revolver. According to the BBC, the song was rumored that the song was inspired by a gravestone in a Liverpool cemetery. In 1957, John Lennon and Paul McCartney met just yards from this gravestone, a scullery maid who died in 1939. It would be another piece of Beatles history to think about McCartney and Lennon sitting in the cemetery looking at the grave and writing the song together. However, it was almost a decade later McCartney wrote the lyrics to the song. Moreover, no one knew about the gravestone until the early 80s Even though many people think that the gravestone inspired the song. McCartney looks at it as a tribute to life, a song for people who feel alone, and how The United Kingdom was affected after World War II. The singer also said that the original name for the song was Daisy Hawkins, but he changed it to Eleanor Rigby, a tribute to Eleanor Braun, who starred in the Beatles movie Help. Rigby was part of a store he once saw in Britain. McCartney was sitting at a piano when the idea first came to him. The first few bars flowed, and soon the lyrics followed. Initially, Father McKenzie was going to be Father McCartney. He changed it because he didn’t want people to think it was his father who was constantly sad. So, he thumbed through a phone book until he found the name, McKenzie. George Melly, a jazz singer, once said, “Eleanor Rigby is a poem about someone unprecedented in a song.” Despite being one of The Beatles’ most famous and storied songs, McCartney has never released anything similar to it during his career.
One of the things that made Eleanor Rigby such a standout is that it was a story put to music. McCartney invented a fictional character and then used the haunting image to create a song that had multiple meanings. Additionally, there were musical elements that were never done before this song. According to Guitar, McCartney has written a few other songs with iconic characters. Yet, he’s never released them because he feels they are nowhere near as good as the original song he wrote decades ago. He added that he enjoys writing songs about someone and then adding supporting people like Father McKenzie to bring the characters to life. Another reason McCartney has never written one like this song is that he feels like the music’s beat is too sad and a little depressing. It’s understandable, considering most of his other songs like Rocky Racoon or Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da were upbeat and playful.
Understandably, McCartney would shy away from writing songs that evoke emotions like that again. Even though Let It Be was along the same lines, it still produced a much more positive message. His later work with the band Wings included Band on The Run, which again was McCartney’s typical style of upbeat pop. Although it would be fascinating to hear the songs he wrote in the same vein, there are plenty of other recordings to enjoy. Even though McCartney has been writing songs for over fifty years. He still approaches the process with fresh eyes and stays with his original writing method. In an interview with NPR, he described his process. He views writing a song the same way he would approach a puzzle in the newspaper or an essay. Then, he either picks up a guitar or meditates in front of a piano by exploring melodies and different words. In the early McCartney and Lennon days, this is how they wrote the group’s songs. Essentially, they would play around with different sounds until something struck them. McCartney added, “I’m of the school of the instinctive. I once worked with Allen Ginsberg, and Allen used to say, “First thought, best thought.”
Music is one of the most potent forms of therapy. Songs like Eleanor Rigby have so many lyrics that people can identify with, especially if they face a sad time in their lives. McCartney’s decision not to record songs that bring alive characters like Eleanor again is a little challenging because the piece was so well written. However, throughout his career, he was part of one of the most famous bands and worked his way through numerous incarnations of music. So, despite wishing he’d revisit the Revolver track, fans will have to be satisfied with his extensive catalog.