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  • In a graveyard in Liverpool lies a headstone bearing the name Eleanor Rigby. Its deeds are being auctioned later as part of a sale of Beatles memorabilia, but what is the real story behind the Fab Four’s famous hit?

    It was at a church fete in 1957 that John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. Just yards away lay the grave of scullery maid Eleanor Rigby, who had died, aged 44, in 1939. Nine years later, Paul would pen the lyrics for what became one of the band’s most celebrated songs. Often described as a lament for the lonely, or a commentary on life in post-war Britain, it tells the story of a woman who “died in the church and was buried along with her name”. It is tempting to picture the teenage Lennon and McCartney sombrely contemplating the headstone, imagining the life of Eleanor and later dreaming up the lyrics.

    But the reality is few knew of the grave’s existence until the early 1980s, and McCartney himself has denied it was the inspiration behind the song. This hasn’t stopped the deeds to the grave being listed for auction with a guide price of £4,000. They are part of a sale which also features other Beatles items and concludes on Thursday.

  • David Bedford, who has written several books about the band, said he thought it was “weird” there was such interest in a woman seemingly unconnected to the song. “The score of the song you can understand but a grave, I find it really unusual,” he said. “I’m not quite sure who would want to buy the deeds to a grave, and I’ll be interested to see who does buy them, and for how much money.” But Mr Bedford said he believed it would be “too much of a coincidence” if the grave had never figured in McCartney’s mind, at least at some subliminal level. “The mythology of the grave grows every year,” he said.
  • Written primarily by Paul, Eleanor Rigby was released in 1966 as part of a double A-side single which also featured Yellow Submarine
  • The song also formed part of The Beatles’ album, Revolver, and the single was released on the same day as the LP
  • The single spent four weeks at number one in the UK charts
  • In the US it reached number 11 and was nominated for three Grammys

The song seems to have gone through several stages of development.

Paul said when he first sat down at the piano he had the name Daisy Hawkins in his mind. He later changed this to Eleanor, after the actress Eleanor Bron, who had starred with The Beatles in the film Help! . The character’s surname at one stage was Bygraves, according to Spencer Leigh, author of The Beatles book Love Me Do to Love Me Don’t. But Paul later changed this to Rigby, from the name of a store he had spotted in Bristol – Rigby & Evens Ltd, Wine & Spirit Shippers. “I just liked the name,” he said in 1984. “I was looking for a name that sounded natural. Eleanor Rigby sounded natural.”

In 2008, a birth certificate for the woman buried in the graveyard of St Peter’s Church, Woolton, was put up for auction. “Eleanor Rigby is a totally fictitious character that I made up,” Paul said in response. “If someone wants to spend money buying a document to prove a fictitious character exists, that’s fine with me.” However, he has conceded in the past the headstone may have influenced him in a subconscious way.

Mr Leigh said it was easy to see how McCartney’s childhood visits to the churchyard would have been very memorable for him. “John Lennon had connections in that church and had even been in the choir there,” he said. “[Lennon’s] uncle died in 1955 when he was quite young. His name was George Toogood Smith. John loved the name and quite often he would take his friends into the graveyard to show them. “It’s quite possible McCartney saw the Rigby grave and just stored it away in his head. It’s just possible that he kept that in his mind. But we actually don’t know, and I think McCartney himself doesn’t know.”

Karen Fairweather, from Omega Auctions, conceded the connection between the real Eleanor Rigby and the song was a matter of “folklore”, none of which was rooted in “concrete fact”. “There is of course the gravestone, and the Rigbys lived on the road that backed on to the road where John Lennon lived,” she added.

Yet, whatever the origin of the name, Eleanor Rigby remains an integral part of the band’s story and Liverpool’s Beatles industry. The gravestone itself is regularly visited by guided tours and an Eleanor Rigby sculpture can be found in Stanley Street. Mr Leigh describes the song as “perfect”, both in its melodies and its representation of a typical Liverpudlian woman of the time. “The real Eleanor Rigby worked as a sort of scullery maid,” Mr Leigh said. “It just fits so perfectly.” He said the jazz singer George Melly put it best when he said: “Eleanor Rigby seemed to be written out of their experiences in Liverpool.”Liverpool was always in their songs but this was about the kind of old woman that I remembered from my childhood and later: very respectable Liverpool women, living in two-up, two-down streets with the doorsteps meticulously holystoned (scoured) and the church the one solid thing in their lives. “There’s the loneliness of it and it struck me as a poem from the start. If you read Love Me Do without the music, it doesn’t mean much but if you read Eleanor Rigby, it is a poem about someone, which [was] something unprecedented in popular song.”

source: bbc news


By Posted on 0 13

Mary is preparing a video now for Elvis Costello’s “You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way.” This is the song that plays over the end titles of Paul McGuigan’s excellent new film, “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”.
Annette Bening plays Hollywood siren and Oscar winner Gloria Grahame, Jamie Bell is her young lover Peter Turner. The story is based on Peter’s memoir and produced by the James Bond team of Barbara Broccoli and Michael S. Wilson.

The backstory for the song is that McGuigan and Broccoli went to to a Costello show last year at which, by coincidence, Costello mentioned Grahame in his patter. “We knew it was meant to be,” McGuigan told me last night at Sony Pictures Classics’s annual star studded dinner. “We went backstage and told him about the movie. He said, I’ll write you a song. And sure enough, on Christmas Day, it arrived in our emails. And it was perfect. ”

And he’s right. “You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way” should be a Best Song nominee. Of course, the McCartneys and Costello have a history of collaborations. Paul and Elvis had a hit album together in 1989 with “Flowers in the Dirt.”


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George Martin met the band at a time that he was caught between two worlds – and his own upbringing, only now being revealed, influenced his relationship with the group, the book says. He was integral to the Fab Four’s success and they might well have never been the best-selling band in history (with more than 800 million records shifted) had it not been for his musical genius and business skill, according to Maximum Volume, by established Beatles author Kenneth Womack.

So was Martin “the fifth Beatle,” as is often described? Womack replies in an interview: “I think at times he was the third or fourth Beatle – and I don’t mean that as any kind of negative critique of anyone else’s contribution.” Martin died last year at the age of 90.

At the time that he met the stars-to-be in 1962, Martin was deep into conducting a four-year affair in London with his assistant, Judy. His first wife Sheena lived out of town and knew nothing about his secret life. Martin was also trying to conceal his own poor childhood background and this also partly explains why he resisted the Beatles for months before embracing them, the author says in an interview: “For about half a year, he was trying not to be involved in their story – he then intended to record six record sides and then be done with them.”

The author says he was “very surprised about the degree of George’s childhood poverty – he describes a family that had no electricity or running water and had one gas jet.” After school, Martin became a lowly office clerk and scratch pianist; then in World War II, he joined the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm and modelled himself on the officers, changing his accent to a more ‘upper class’ sound.

Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin ..  AVAILABLE HERE.

When he returned home, his family was “having so much difficulty in making ends meet – and this is the first time I know that this has been written – that George’s mother was taking in numerous orphans so that she could earn money from the state,” says Womack, whose sources include George’s eldest son, Gregory Paul Martin. The ex-navy man started studying classical music and got married to Sheena. “He had told her he had come from very humble upbringings but she had no idea how humble.” He broke with his parents as he reinvented himself and started climbing the social ladder.

Womack relates this back to Martin’s initial hesitancy about the Beatles. While he wasn’t sure about some of their songs, shaggy hair, Liverpool accents, the name, their beat-up gear, abilities, studio professionalism, or their first drummer Pete Best, there was something else that bothered him: “These guys were self-described ‘rednecks,’ as Ringo said. Why would George want to align himself with the sort of guys he had been trying to get away from for so long?”

Martin tried them with a cover version of “How Do You Do It,” later a hit for Gerry & The Pacemakers. They hated it. He could see a little potential in “Love Me Do,” “P.S. I Love You” and “Ask Me Why.”

A breakthrough came they offered him a brand new song – a Roy Orbison style slow number called “Please Please Me.” Martin suggested that they radically speed up the ballad. They did, and something clicked. The rest is history: “Gentleman, you have just made your first Number One,” Martin rightly predicted to them. It was the start of a groundbreaking relationship that would change the course of pop.

Womack adds:“When he had thrown his lot in with them, they became a true partnership and there was really no stopping him. He was innovative, sometimes more so than they were.” “George was seen as a squarish fuddy-duddy, even the Beatles saw him that way, but he was as hip as everybody else. Like he had a double life, he was cannier than you might think. When they first debuted ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ to him, he didn’t say, ‘Oh my God’ or run for the hills. George said ‘very interesting’ and went away and thought about it and helped create the palette to bring the ideas to fruition.”

Martin’s career has various lessons for other music executives:

(1) Invest in the future. In 2017, many record companies are looking for ready-made sure-fire talent with an audience. “George was prepared to take the time and develop them step by step – it doesn’t happen much these days,” Womack says.

(2) Be driven by what you enjoy, then it doesn’t seem like work. “George was driven by his music. He was always curious. This kept him from wanting to buy speedboats and live on the Riviera.” While he later purchased a country estate with Judy, his second wife, he was generally happy with just “the trappings of having financial security.”

(3) Take a risk. After a dozen years on a middling salary at Parlophone, Martin had differences with EMI and went into business on his own with just one blue-chip client – The Beatles. He had pride, emotion and financial survival at stake, perhaps more than the musicians themselves. He went on to build Air Studios and Apple Studios. The gamble paid off.

(4) Take time to look for talent. Martin saved the ailing Parlophone company not just by comedy records but by becoming an innovative A&R leader, seeking new artists. He later even visited New York’s Brill Building seeking more hit songs for other musicians he was working with.

(5) Have faith in yourself. In the 1960s, the industry wisdom was that pop was disposable and bands were fleeting fads. The Beatles were rejected by Decca which thought guitar groups were over. Martin gave his all to make music that would endure. “It worked. Songs like ‘Norwegian Wood,’ ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Paperback Writer’ sound fresh and crisp today,” says the biographer. Even in the mid-1960s, doom-mongers predicted that the group was finished as it stopped touring and The Beach Boys challenged them with singles such as “Good Vibrations.”

“George and the Beatles stepped up to the challenge with ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ‘Penny Lane’ and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Brian Wilson said ‘my God, they beat me to it.’”

Womack is well qualified to write this book, being the author of The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles and The Beatles Encyclopedia. While the sometimes stiff-upper-lip Martin kept much to himself in his life rigidly compartmentalized between personal and professional matters, Womack’s meticulous research results in a detailed analysis. The opening account of Martin’s first recording session with The Beatles on Wednesday, June 6, 1962 is spread out over many pages. We hear about the A&R man’s schedule of meetings on that day, his lunch and who he meets. Finally we get to the evening. Martin was in the Abbey Road canteen, not paying any attention to the music, and was called in because the Liverpudlians were causing a stir in the studio next door. What happened next is well known but exhaustively told here. After the performance, Martin spent 20 minutes criticizing every aspect of the playing to a silent response. He asked them if there was anything they did not like too, and George Harrison responded with, “well, for a start, I don’t like your tie.” The deadpan retort broke the ice. Martin liked their wit and charisma.

As the book notes: “During that one instant, Harrison had very possibly saved the Beatles from the EMI dustbin. Martin was quite sure that he didn’t like the group’s musicianship or their original material, but after years of toil at Parlophone Records, he knew comedy, and these guys, if nothing else, were funny. Even in the darkest of moments, when the chips were down, they knew how to laugh at themselves, as Harrison had so clearly revealed. And Martin could work with that.”

Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin is published by Chicago Review Press. It is subtitled The Early Years, 1926-1966 and is the first volume of the first full-length biography of Martin and takes the story up to Rubber Soul and his 40th birthday in 1966…  AVAILABLE HERE.



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Paul began his eight-night NYC-area run at the Prudential Center. He’s doing two nights there, two at MSG, two at Barclays Center, and two at Nassau Coliseum. 55 years since the release of The Beatles’ debut single “Love Me Do” (which Paul played) His 38-song setlist was similar to most of his recent tours, kicking off with “A Hard Day’s Night”.





A Hard Day’s Night
Save Us
Can’t Buy Me Love
Letting Go
Temporary Secretary
Let Me Roll It
Foxy Lady
I’ve Got a Feeling
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Maybe I’m Amazed
We Can Work It Out
In Spite of All the Danger
You Won’t See Me

Love Me do
And I love her
Here Today
Quennie Eye
The Fool on the hill
Lady Madonna
Eleanor Rigby
I wanna be your man
Being For the Benefit of Mr.Kite
Band on the Run
Back in the USSR
Let it Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude


Sgt.Pepper´s (Reprise)
Hi Hi Hi
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End


Paul returned for an encore and, given the day, he honored the the victims of the September 11, 2001 tragedy before playing “Yesterday”

Paul Signs Hofner bass for charity: