Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby
Picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window
Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie
Writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working
Darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby
Died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie
Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people (ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people (ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all belong?

Lyrics submitted by Ice

Eleanor Rigby Lyrics as written by Paul Mccartney John Lennon

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Eleanor Rigby song meanings
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  • +18
    General CommentI think this song is simple.

    Two lonely people--Eleanor Rigby and Father McKenzie--are the subjects.

    Eleanor Rigby lives in a pretend world that she made for herself because she is so lonely and unknown--she goes into a church building after a stranger's wedding is over and grabs the rice to throw, pretending she's getting married. When she goes home, she sits by the window and smiles out, either hoping to grab someone's attention or pretending she has ("Who is it for?").

    Father McKenzie is a preacher that is probably used primarily for wedding services and his actual preaching isn't really well-attended. He spends all night fixing up his clothes to look good for a sermon no one will go to ("What does he care?").

    In the finale, Eleanor has finally died, leaving nothing but her name (which is on the tombstone), and McKenzie was the one who buried her (because a burial is done with hands and a shovel, he got dirt on them and wipes it off). Because nobody came to her funeral, no one was "saved" by the sermon he had planned for her.

    That's the story--as to its meaning, it may simply be a lament for all the people in the world that have no one.
    Mahaloon June 25, 2012   Link
  • +17
    General Commenti work at this place where i call people up and survey them, and this old lady that was willing to take it, and in the middle of the survey we just started talking, and she was talking about how her husband died, and she just started crying, and i thought... i wonder if i'm the only one she has talked to in a while.. and it made me sad that i can't help all the lonely people.. and this song reminds me of that
    ookalaon September 28, 2002   Link
  • +13
    General CommentThough it is one of my favorite songs I always feel a bit uncomfortable hearing it.
    It always seemed to me as if the lines "All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?" implicate on the listeners and accuse them of being a part of a cold and inhumane society.
    3ssenceon September 16, 2002   Link
  • +10
    General CommentI've had an inspiration about the meaning of this song and joined specifically so I could share my inspiration. I have not read all the comments because there are a lot but I read most of them and none of you got this. A few hinted at it but none of you got this.

    I'm going to come right out and say that this song was directed at the church. This song was directed at Christianity in general. Singing about Father McKenzie was not singing about a random individual who happened to be a church leader. For the purpose of this song, Father McKenzie =IS= the representation of Christianity. "Ah, look at all the lonely people" and "No one was saved".

    Yes, there is a hint of a connection between Father McKenzie and Eleanor Rigby. But the song is not saying that they did anything together. The two might never have even spoken outside of the usual church banter. What the song is suggesting is that there should have been more of a connection between Father McKenzie and Eleanor Rigby. But "No one was saved" because Father McKenzie was too busy being self-righteous, too busy "writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear." This song is a bold-faced accusation against the self-righteous and overly religious that refuse to reach out to the all the lonely people and then wonder why so few come to church.

    This song is saying that it isn't enough to be friendly. This song is saying that as long as people, especially religious people, remain cold and aloof, the Eleanor Rigby's of this world will continue to die and be "buried along with her name". A person's name is very important in Judeo-Christian values.
    hannielebedon February 29, 2012   Link
  • +7
    General CommentThis sounds crazy, but I'm a great fan of Dickens, and whenever I hear this song, I think of Miss Havisham. Especially at the beginning part of it. To all who are unaquainted with Miss Havisham, she is a character in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations (a very good novel, by the way.) She was jilted on her wedding day as a young girl, and her heart was broken. She stopped all of the clocks in her house at the time she was jilted, shut up all the windows, and left everything just as it was. As an old lady, she sits in her wedding dress and veil, the wedding feast still sitting out, rotten, in the dining room, and meanwhile exacts her revenge on men with her beautiful, unattainable adopted daughter, Estella. Eleanor Rigby's lonliness and her constant sort of waiting state always bring Miss Havisham to mind. So there! By reading this post you got one bibliophile's strange opinion and a literature lesson all in one!
    RosesAndRuffleson December 01, 2012   Link
  • +6
    General CommentI think Father McKenzie and Eleanor were meant to be together but never were. Two lonely people who could have been together. She was frequenting the church where he worked and he was the only one who attended her funeral. He came as a friend because he picked up dirt to throw over her. It's sad because if you are a lonely person, you never know how close you may be to someone else who is lonely.
    taretare84on June 25, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis is obviously a song about lonely people. It seems that Eleanor Rigby was a lonely single person, she often went to Church, perhaps to ease the emptiness that she felt inside, maybe she even hoped to make friends there. Whilst in Church perhaps she saw the rice left over from other peoples' weddings, and often regretted that she had never had the chance to get married or have a family.

    "Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door", suggests that like most lonely people, she hid her unhappiness whenever she left the house and tried to appear happy like everybody else. "Window" and "Jar" suggests that her outward attempts to hide her unhappiness didn't work very well and was easy to see through, as both windows and jars are glass.

    "Died in the church" perhaps relates to the last place she visited before she passed away, perhaps she was even found dead inside the church, either from natural causes or maybe even suicide.

    "Buried along with her name" seems to indicate that she was the last of her family, having no relatives, siblings or children of her own to continue the family bloodline, maybe she was the last remaining "Rigby" from her family circle and nobody left to carry the surname on.

    In the UK it is a tradition that when people are buried for the closest relative(s) to throw a handful of dirt into the grave before it is filled in. Because Eleanor had no relatives or friends at her graveside, Father Mackenzie felt sorry for her, and decided to do it, hence "Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave"

    "No one was saved" perhaps sums up how Father Mackenzie feels, nobody comes to his Church, all he does is bury people and he has had no opportunity to help anybody with their problems or feel like he has played a part in bettering somebody else's life. Perhaps Eleanor was so lonely that she committed suicide in the Church which would also be an alternative to "Died in the Church", and also why Father Mackenzie feels guilty at not being in the Church to talk to her and try to stop her from killing herself.
    turbo1973on September 13, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI really love this song and being a philosophy minor makes me love it even more. I think the Beatles are pointing out where all this unhappiness comes from. First off, E.R is most likely a nun or janitor (picking up rice) who wants to get closer to F.M, but because of Catholicism they can't be together (implementing religion for unhappiness). Also, the next part about wearing a face in a jar by the door is referring to makeup worn to give the illusion of happiness or just putting on a front whenever in public to try to be happy like everyone else, but it turns out there are truly many unhappy people (so society as well). The next part about writing words that no one will hear, has to do with F.M who is trying to help others but he can't even help himself because of a religion that is supposed to make life better, but is doing the opposite "No-one comes near" and " a sermon no one will hear." However, in spite of this he still blindly works hard at something that is a lost cause, "darning his socks." He is trying, but not really thinking because if he was than he would realize how unhappy he is and change his path in life. The last part about E.R dying gives a truthful yet sad example of what the outcome and future holds; E.R never married "buried along with her name" and I might be reading into it too much, but "she," not in a physical sense, but in a “self” sense died before her body did as a result of the church. Also the last lines about F.M "wiping the dirt from his hands" is almost like he is once again not reflecting on what has happened and blindly following something that has led to such anguish. I think this song says a lot about the Beatles views on religion and we can't really dispute all of this...............
    Gooseon November 25, 2004   Link
  • +3
    MemoryI remember walking through the halls of my Juinor High school, years back, with hundreds of people bumping and pushing, and thinking: "i wonder how many times i've seen these same people, and yet i've still never seen them before, i'm seeing them for the first time."

    That's what this is about. Walking down the halls, you see all kinds of people, and everyone is there with a purpose. But you, just walking to class, are the lonliest, like a fish bowl, you are only a spektator.

    I think the lines "Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no-one will hear" and "[Eleanor Rigby] waits at the window, wearing a face she keeps in a jar by the door" are the most meaning full. The first one is like all the things you hear, and see, and that maybe someone has spent time working on, and you will never really see it, or remember it. The second one is like when you have a job where 'the costomer is always right,' and you always have to smile even though you don't have a need to, or you don't want to. It's pretty depressing trying to live life impressing others. I get this image of someone sitting in a run down, dark room looking out a window, which is a rather depressing scene, and the door bell rings. So she gets up and greets her guests with a surprised greeting and a smile. But then she goes back to sitting in her chair, looking out her gloomy window.
    ME68on October 04, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Commentit was not written after they was a tombstone with her name on it... actually, technically, that's not true, but the tombstone was not the inspiration. most fanatics agree that this is largely a paul song, though paul's and john's stories differ about who wrote most of the song. paul remembers taking the name eleanor from an actress he worked with (on Help!, I believe). and, mckenzie was an alteration of the original name "Father McCartney." however, it was pointed out to paul years later that in a cemetery where he and john used to get drunk there is both a Rigby tombstone (not Eleanor Rigby's, but it does mention an Eleanor Rigby on it, I believe) and a McKenzie tombstone (John McKenzie if I'm not mistaken). so, it is possible that the names may have caught paul's fancy by way of subconscious recollection from his youth.
    jabbadatuton March 15, 2002   Link

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