Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Eleanor Rigby

Robert Bunter: Huh? What? [shakes head violently back and forth while making a comically-exaggerated 'bibblebobluhblbublblblb' cartoon sound effect indicating surprise] I beg your pardon? I was listening to a band of carefree, merry-go-lucky shagmops sing happy tunes of teenage lust ...did somebody flip a switch? What is this dreary, baroque lament? Insistent cellos, minor key chromaticism, a lonely spinster, a pathetic priest and she dies pointlessly and unmourned at the end? I
don't understand what has happened.

Richard Furnstein: What happened is the old reliable twentieth century of humankind and its unshakable desire to throw out the old and progress into a new age. We had electricity, flight, the atom bomb, Little Richard singing about forbidden pleasures, and then Paul decided to take the next huge leap with "Eleanor Rigby."It is pop music without the beat instruments, boneheaded lyrics, and overt sexuality. I take that back, it ain't even pop music. There's no real point in imagining the Beatles working through this song as a rock quartet. The recording is driven by a simplistic and creative string arrangement, while ignoring the crashing cymbals and other rock and roll conventions that drove their early albums. Listen to the strings push the verse melody. Listen to the unexpected force of the opening "aaaaaaaaah's." The acceleration in the middle of the verses is a perfect set up for Paul's reminder that these are lonely people. Your hearts should hurt...right....here. It may just be Paul's greatest story song. The characters are vivid and sympathetic: sketches of two lonely people, the title character (a crone who had everything but love) and the celibate Father McKenzie.

Robert Bunter: It's true. You're right. And not only did they do that, they also proved themselves, as ever, the masters of striking contrasts. Did you know that this was issued as a single with Yellow Submarine on the flip?

Richard Furnstein:
Sure was, but I refuse to really acknowledge the singles that were taken from albums. "Paperback Writer" b/w "Rain" is the only Revolver-era single in my mind. So, you are wrong in my eyes.

Robert Bunter: Get over it, Rich. The point is, they went from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Richard Furnstein: Ringo delivered the knockout lyric here, describing the good Father MacKenzie "darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there." It's an absolutely beauty, and Mr. Starr doesn't received co-writer credits on this one. For shame, Lennon and McCartney! Give the drummer some.

Robert Bunter: Oh for Christ's sake.

No comments:

Post a Comment