Eleanor Rigby

Twenty Four years ago today the Beatles began to record one of the more significant songs in their catalog. Eleanor Rigby is significant for a number of reasons. First off, it is a song where you can clearly see the transformation from pop act to a serious experimental studio band. The song is about loneliness with very striking lyrics. Pop bands were not recording songs like this in the 60s. The song was written mostly by McCartney, and unlike much of the other Lennon/McCartney songs, when Paul played this for the group, they all made contributions to the lyric.

The song is the only Beatles song on which none of the Beatles played their instruments. Paul had been introduced to the work of Antonio Vivaldi and fell in love with the music. He came up with the idea of a song with string backgrounds, and together with producer George Martin came up with the octet that can be heard on the recording. Eight studio musicians (four violins, two cellos and two violas) preformed a score composed by Martin.

As was normal with the Beatles songs at the time, both a stereo and a mono mix were recorded. In the stereo mix, McCartney’s vocal was put on the right side while the octet was put to the left. At the Chorus everything was brought to the center. This made for a very distracting recording (IMHO). The mono mix, of course, did not have this problem. The song was also featured in the movie Yellow Submarine but again with the original stereo recording. In 1999, the movie was re-released with digitally re-mastered audio and a cleaned up video (they did not digitally re-master the video). In the process of re-mastering the audio, the decision was made to not only re-master but remix the album, and to date is really the only album of the Beatles to be remixed (in the 80’s Help! and Rubber Soul were remixed but did not sound much different from the original versions). In this remixed version of Eleanor Rigby, the vocals are now centered through the entire recording.

Finally, on the album Anthology 2, take 14 of the strings recording (from April 28th) was included.

This has always been one of my favorite albums. I am linking three You Tube videos here. The first is the original stereo recording and the second is the soundtrack remix. You can choose what you like better. The third is the strings recording from the anthology album.





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