Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Eleanor Rigby

My pal Matthew over at The Spacebase has posted a fab critique of one of my fav songs >> Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles >> its for his college course and I heard about it when he tweeted about it yesterday.

Its a great critique that captures the gist of the song... especially this paragraph:
This creates, I think, an unintended correlation between the mix, rather than the music, and the lyrics. While Eleanor Rigby and Father McKenzie isolate themselves in the church--which grows increasingingly irrelevant to anyone outside (which, in this case, is literally everyone but Rigby and McKenzie)--McCartney's vocal withdraws itself from the focal point of the mix.
The chorus [All the lonely people] is such an awesome commentary for now. The disintegration of family and community is displayed in Eleanor Rigby and Father MacKenzie's lives.

Eleanor's existence is the antithesis of the Friends generation... picking the rice up after the Wedding... her funeral where no one attended... the opposite of "I'll be there..."

Father MacKenzie's expression of faith is equally desolate... doing the same ol' same ol' with no results... no one got saved, afterall. His is a beautiful metaphor for continuing with tradition and repeating the same mistakes without acknowledging the need to change. A word the church of now should heed.

These are my thoughts on the song... but I must be mindful that it is just that... a song and a beautiful song to boot. I'll let Matthew sum it up...
The main point I would like to make here is that "Eleanor Rigby" is a song, not a poem. The lyrics are poignant, and in the right context, moving, but the right context for these lyrics is, I feel, George Martin's delicate and reserved string arrangement. It provides the perfect setting to make sure these lines do not descend from pathos into bathos. Though it is a valid pursuit to discuss a song's lyrics separate from its music, it can be a faulty pursuit. In the case of "Eleanor Rigby," it feels plain to me that the song loses much of its meaning once lyrics are separated from music.
Thanks Matthew and thanks to the Fab Four for such a great song.

1 comment:

Matthew Trisler said...

Thanks for the attention. Flattered to see the size of those block quotes.

I'll make sure to have more lengthy music writing before too much longer.


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