Uncovering the Surprising Story Behind a Beatles Classic:
In a recent podcast series titled ‘McCartney: A Life In Lyrics,’ the legendary musician Sir Paul McCartney, an iconic member of The Beatles, offered a captivating glimpse into the backstory of the classic song “Eleanor Rigby” from the 1966 album ‘Revolver.’ Co-hosted by poet Paul Muldoon, this podcast series explores the meanings and inspirations behind McCartney’s beloved hits. In the inaugural episode, the 81-year-old McCartney shared an unexpected connection between the song’s lyrics and his mother’s affection for Nivea face cream.
Revealing the Origins:
The specific lyric in question reads, “Wearing a Face That She Keeps in a Jar by the Door.” McCartney revealed that the song’s title, “Eleanor Rigby,” was inspired by a grave he and his late bandmate, John Lennon, used to visit during their youth.
Recollecting those days, McCartney reminisced, “There is a grave that John and I wandered around endlessly, talking about our future. And there is a grave there [with the name Eleanor Rigby]. I don’t remember ever having seen that gravestone, but it’s been suggested to me that psychologically I would have seen it.”
A Touch of Nostalgia: Nivea Face Cream:
Paul McCartney’s storytelling journey also led him to share a delightful and somewhat comical memory from his childhood. He disclosed, “My mum’s favorite was Nivea, and I love it to this day. It kind of scared me a little that women used quite so much cold cream, and it was my dread when I got older and got married that I would marry someone who would [wear a lot of cold cream], put one of those big shower caps on, and the curlers and have masses of things… So that played on my mind quite a bit, so she’s wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door.”
An Imaginative Tale:
As McCartney delved deeper into the creative process, he unveiled the profound imagery that inspired the song. “What I was seeing was like a film, just in my imagination. I’ve got two protagonists that are lonely, she and then him. You don’t feel so sorry for him, but he’s lonely. So ‘all the lonely people now’ becomes the chorus… She dies, and he’s the one who buries her, and he’s wiping his hands as he walks from the grave, ‘no one was saved,’ and that’s the wrap-up to the story.”
A Glimpse into the Future:
McCartney also offered insights into the Soviet Union’s influence on their 1968 song ‘Back In The USSR’ and discussed how this inspiration shaped their creative process. This exploration into the depths of musical creation and inspiration sheds light on the intricacies of McCartney’s songwriting.
Delving further into the revelations made in this podcast episode, it’s evident that McCartney’s approach to songwriting is a fusion of personal experiences, imaginative storytelling, and keen observation. The fact that the song title itself was influenced by a gravestone reveals the depth of his connection to his hometown of Liverpool and the memories he shared with Lennon.
The recollection of his mother’s choice of Nivea face cream adds a layer of intimacy to the lyrics. McCartney’s humorous yet heartfelt reflection on his childhood fears and expectations regarding his future spouse’s grooming habits humanizes the songwriter and connects him with the audience on a personal level.
Moreover, McCartney’s description of the songwriting process as akin to watching a film in his mind’s eye highlights his ability to create vivid, emotionally resonant narratives through music. This insight into his creative process underscores the artistry behind The Beatles’ music, elevating it beyond mere pop songs to timeless works of storytelling.
A Window into Musical History:
The episode also briefly touches on the Soviet Union’s influence on another Beatles song, ‘Back In The USSR,’ demonstrating how McCartney and his bandmates drew inspiration from the socio-political landscape of their era. This revelation underscores The Beatles’ role as not only musical innovators but also as chroniclers of their time.
Exploring ‘The Lyrics: 1965 to Present’:
The podcast series is not an isolated endeavor but is closely tied to ‘The Lyrics: 1965 to Present,’ a book co-authored by McCartney and Muldoon. This book promises to provide a comprehensive look at McCartney’s songwriting journey over the years, making it a must-read for both Beatles fans and aspiring songwriters seeking insights from a music legend.
As the podcast hints at more episodes to come, fans can eagerly anticipate further explorations into McCartney’s extensive catalog of songs. Each episode promises to be a treasure trove of anecdotes, emotions, and artistic revelations.
The ‘McCartney: A Life In Lyrics’ podcast series offers a profound and intimate look into the mind of one of music’s greatest songwriters. With a blend of personal nostalgia, storytelling prowess, and a touch of humor, McCartney invites listeners on a journey through his creative process, ensuring that the legacy of The Beatles continues to captivate and inspire generations to come.