Beatles: Eleanor Rigby Meaning
Song Released: 1966
Eleanor Rigby Lyrics
Ah, look at all the lonely people
Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a weddng
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by
anonymous Jan 9th, 2010 1:55am report
This song is about loneliness, as given away by the line "Ah, look at all the lonely people."
My interpretation of the song is: Eleanor Rigby is an elderly woman who either never got married or lost her spouse. She cleans up after weddings in the church, which could only add to her loneliness. She is living "in a dream" because she wants to find love and friendship to be happy. As far as waiting by the window, I always saw her in her house, alone, smiling to passersby but feeling desperately alone inside. "A face that she keeps in a jar by the door" would mean her facade; she smiles to hide her misery.
Next, I see Father McKenzie as an older gentleman who is also lonely. His parish doesn't frequent his sermons as much lately, or he just doesn't feel the same comfort he used to, in the line "writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear." "No one comes near," to me, refers to his correct thought that his sermon goes mainly unheard. Or, and I just thought of this, it could refer to changing times, and how not as many people are dedicated to the church and God as in years past, which saddens him. He is sewing up ("darning") his socks, but he knows no one will really pay attention to him anyway, so "what does he care" if his socks are holy? (No pun intended, I promise.)
The next lines could indicate that Eleanor died in the church, maybe of heartbreak, or just of old age, but I see it as more of a sad irony...Eleanor was a churchgoer that needed a companion as much as the priest did, but both were so caught up in their troubles that they didn't find each other in time. ("No one was saved" would mean that neither soul was able to reach out to save the other, "buried along with her name" would mean Eleanor was soon forgotten because nobody knew her, and Father McKenzie "wipes the dirt off his hands as he walks from the grave" because he doesn't think much of his duty because he is caught up in his sorrow.)
Overall, Eleanor was depressed/alone and hid it, Father Mckenzie was sad/lonely and hid it, and both were too distracted by their own self-pity to realize each other and reach out.
lcurtis.2006 May 18th, 2006 5:28pm report
This song is obviously about feeling lonely and depressed. When Eleanor goes out she tries to make people think that she is happy and not all alone.
"Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door"
She wears that face so that no one can see the lonliness and emptiness that she feels. It is a false impression that she is giving to everyone that she sees
You can tell from this story that no one even cared about her. When she died no one even came to the funeral.
"Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear. No one comes near."
Even the minister doesn't care to be at her funeral. He wants to get it over with and go on with his life as if it doesn't matter to all.
"Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave. No one was saved"
(Wiping the dirt from your hands is a phrase often used to illustrate that you are going to get rid of something and forget about it. So obviously if the minister at her funeral is that anxious to be rid of her memory then who else is there to care and remember her.)
Ok a couple points a want to make first:
- It’s in A church not HER church
-she picks up the rice in a church where A wedding has been, again not HER wedding (ok I had to check over the lyrics, I thought it was her wedding for a while)
-A sermon is something written then said in a church service. (Kind of like in an assembly at a school.)
-darning is sewing up the holes or rips in a piece of material
Ahhh look at all the lonely people
(Pretty straight forward)
Ahhh look at all the lonely people
(Again pretty straight forward)
Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in a church where a wedding has been, lives in a dream.
(After a wedding when all the guests are leaving Eleanor picks up some rice that was thrown and dreams of having her own wedding because she is lonely.
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door, who is it for?
(She stands by the window watching and waving at all the guests that are leaving. The "face that she keeps in a jar" is a fake face she put on to make people think she is happy and joyful but she keeps all her real emotions of depression and sorrow "bottled up inside her" so to speak.)
All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
(Where do all these lonely people come from?)
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?
(Where should all these lonely people go?)
Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear. No one comes near.
(He probably expects that Eleanor will kill herself because of her depression, maybe Eleanor told him so he could prepare. no one bothers him while he is working.)
Look at him working. Darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there. What does he care?
(Assuming Eleanor told him that she would commit suicide he is darning his socks so that he looks good for the funeral even though he doesn’t really care that Eleanor will die and knows that no one will come to the funeral)
All the lonely people. Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people. Where do they all belong?
Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name. Nobody came
(She committed suicide in the church and Father McKenzie buried her. Her name being buried with her means that her name was forgotten and was never mentioned again. Like Father assumed no one came to the funeral service.)
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave. No one was saved.
(Wiping the dirt from his hands means he wants to forget, about burying Eleanor cause he didn’t care therefore there is no reason to remember it. He walks away. No one was saved is implying that in the Christian/catholic religion God/Jesus will save people from death or give them another chance, however they did not with Eleanor.)
All the lonely people. Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people. Where do they all belong?
anonymous Jun 27th, 6:13pm report
Eleanor rigby is paul mccartney, father mckenzie is father mccartney. Picks up the rice in a church where a wedding has been, lives in a dream. Seems like the church is next to a cemetary and eleanor rigby is a ghost "lives in a dream". Look at all the lonely people at this secret funural, who are they? where did they come from?
anonymous May 23rd, 5:58pm report
I believe the term "Wearing the face that she keeps in the jar by her door" indicates that she was prostitute, her face is for those who pays her, the rice is symbolic that her role is below a poor farmer who must break his back to pick up his valuable fortune. She cleans in the church but no one notices her, she is one of the true lonely people. She may have been a victim of one of the World Wars. Father Mackenzie is a man who practices religion outside the church but others will ignore their beliefs as soon as they leave the church. They should have been brought together but life is unfair so they are only brought together when she dies, Father Mackenzie is the only one who attends the funeral because he is a good man. It is similar to an opera where there a three parts but in this case the middle act is missing so we are forced to imagine it.
anonymous Oct 16th, 2017 10:28pm report
This is a song which is meant to make people think about focusing on others rather than wallowing in self pity and personal troubles. It is intended to make people realize that everyone has their troubles and it is more efficient for us to see others in trouble and help than it is to focus on ourselves and personal problems. This section "waits by the window / wearing the face she keeps / in a jar by the door" is referencing a sort of symbolic mask of a smile and joyous appearance that people today, like Eleanor, put on to hide the pain and loneliness that they are feeling inside.
Eleanor Rigby is a woman who is lonely, as portrayed by her picking up rice after a wedding and hiding her emotions behind a "face in a jar". Father McKenzie is a man who is, like Eleanor, lonely and feels as though people do not care about him or his ministry anymore. Because each of these two characters are so focused on their self-pity and personal problems, they do not see the troubles of each other, which leads them to be selfish. Eleanor dies without anyone caring, not even Father McKenzie as he walks away from her grave dusting his hands off as though he had no emotion regarding her passing.
This song was intended to call attention to the selfishness of our world. By bringing this issue to the attention of people all over, the band hoped to improve generosity and all around caring for people.
anonymous Aug 12th, 2016 8:08pm report
as a girl of fourteen i identified with eleanor rigby which was rather sad. and now as a woman in my sixties i still wear a face i keep in a jar by the door. so the beatles wrote my life story in this bleak beautiful song before i ever lived it. there are really so many lonely unsung people in the world
anonymous Dec 19th, 2015 12:45pm report
I would like to point out that a lot of people think that the lyrics "Waits by the window, wearing the face she keeps in a jar by the door" is about how Eleanor Rigby is trying to hide her sorrow and despair by putting a smile on her face. But I think that it is in fact what is has been mentioned to be about her putting cream on her face to make her look younger.
NewtIsBae143 Apr 1st, 2015 4:12pm report
This song is about the people on this world who are lonely, sad, maybe even depressed. It specifically tells the tale of two people, Eleanor Rigby and father McKenzie.
Ah, look at all the lonely people (this is repeated to be sung 2 times in total, this basically says it's meaning 'look at the lonely people')
Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been, lives in a dream. (She has nobody and her job then is cleaning up the church after ceremonies such as the wedding that was at the church. She is cleaning up the rice from the wedding. She lives in a dream because she can't face the hardness and pain of reality)
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door, who is it for? (She's wearing, or showing, a face/expression that is not real, it is fake. She's trying to show that she's happy, even though she is not. It asks who is it for, meaning, why is she faking a face, who is she truly faking for)
All the lonely people, where do they all come from? (it's asking like, why are there so many lonely people around, where are they coming from)
All the lonely people, where do they all belong? (It saying, where should these people that are lonely go to, where should they stay/be at, belong)
Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear, no one comes near. (It means, well first off, to tell you, a sermon is a type of speech you write and give. Next, it's saying that he is writing the sermon to give, but nobody is going to here it though. It says no one comes near meaning that, well, nobody ever usually comes near his church)
Look at him working,darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there, what does he care. (First off,darning means sewing. Now, it's saying that he's sewing his socks in the night, and nobody is there. He doesn't care because he believes it won't get better and they won't ever come but he just keeps doing what he should)
^^^look up a few for the next two parts in the songs.
Eleanor Rigby, died in the church and was buried along with her name, nobody came. (It means that, well, she died in that church. She was buried alongside her name, meaning one that her name was written upon her grave, and two, that her name died with her. Forgotten. It's says nobody came because no one dared to come to her funeral, to visit her grave)
Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave, no one was saved. (This means that, he wiped away, erased, basically got rid of, the memories of somebody dying, and of the past, as he walked away from her grave. No one was saved because somebody died of loneliness or something caused from her being lonely and nobody could save her)
^^^^ look up a lit to see the rest of the song and my explanation.
[I was able to come up with this song summary because me, and my friend, we both know how it feels to be lonely, depressed, sad, all of these bad things. We're picked on, abused with harsh words by other school students because of our differences and stuff. My message to you is that is you see someone, meet someone, or know someone who is lonely, depressed, bullied, abused, or just hurt in a way, STAND OUT, help them, comfort them. Even if they reject your help or comfort, keep trying, you might think they don't need it but somewhere inside of them, they REALLY need it. They need to know they have someone to talk to, to trust. If they are being hurt in a physical or bad way, no matter what they say to get you not to, tell someone, let somebody know, no matter if it's a teacher, a parent, or some other sort of adult that can help and you can trust. NEVER be afraid to SPEAK OUT if it could really help or possibly even save somebody's life. Remember this at all times, PLEASE]
anonymous Sep 12th, 2013 9:23pm report
To me, this song means more about being lonely than people not caring about you. No one might have attended her funeral, which is sad enough as it already is, but she probably did not know that many considering how lonely she was. I do not know if Father McKenzie had a relationship with Eleanor Rigby, but I think some part of him must have cared enough to give her a funeral, he did not need to. Also, do realize, that Eleanor Rigby died as an old woman, so if she did have any true friends, they probably were not around anymore. I must say, though the lyrics do make me sad and uncomfortable, I love this song, it is one of the Beatles' best.
anonymous Mar 11th, 2013 3:40pm report
This song is mainly about two lonely people who never awknoledge anyone but themself because they live a lonely life. They both also hide their sadness and feel very lonely inside.
Pyrohybrid Feb 24th, 2013 2:27pm report
Both Eleanor Rigby and Father Mckenzie are two names that lennon and mccartney randomly through into a song for no apparant reason. They later traced the names back to 2 grave stones in Liverpool graveyard which they spent alot of their times in when they were younger. It is thought those 2 names were mearly names that stuck in their minds and never gave any thought to the origin. These graves are now shrines to the beetles legends.
anonymous Feb 14th, 2013 2:02pm report
what are you lot on? very simply written in response to Mc Cartneys Penny Lane (about a bus route)Lennon wrote Eleanor Rigby. The church where John had been a choirboy for a very short period as a boy, close to his home ,close to where he and Paul would meet had a small graveyard ,of which he was very familiar. Eleanor Rigby is a name on one of the grave stones "buried along with her name" because her husbands name was Woods ,not Rigby. Father Mackenzie was exactly that on another grave, a father of children buried with him! not a priest, "all the lonely people " was an idea from George. So it goes that the song although melodic and sad is retrospective of Johns quite sad moment in time, roughly when his mother had been killed an a car crash, finding solace in a church yard, and in time the inspiration to this song. The words have feeling yes and a level of meaning, but not as deep as you would wish to explore
More Beatles song meanings »
Submit Your Interpretation
Related Blog Posts
|Angel with a Shotgun||anonymous|
|Pipes of Peace||anonymous|
|Forty Six & 2||anonymous|
|The Way I Loved You||anonymous|
|Incident On 57th Street||anonymous|
|Hold on Loosely||anonymous|