The Beatles “Lonely People”–a Lament for All of Us

Original score for “Eleanor Rigby” Written primarily by McCartney, includes notes that there should be four violins, two violas, and two cellos.

“We are, all of us, haunted by loneliness.”

mps, Jr

We were driving back from a visit to Pennsylvania. I saw the cars. I saw the people in the cars and the classic tune sprang to memory. In my head, I began to sing the lyrics. So memory became thoughts, became this post about a song that is now 55 years old. 

It has been called a lament for the lonely. Which means, it is a lament for all of us. The music and lyrics are perfectly matched and tell the sparse story of loneliness of two individuals with a chorus that reminds us all of our common human experience.

We are, all of us, haunted by loneliness.  

Some facts about the song:

  • It was written primarily by Paul McCartney in collaboration with John Lennon
  • It was released in 1966 as part of a double A-side single which also featured Yellow Submarine and the two songs are often performed together.
  • The song also formed part of The Beatles’ album, Revolver, with the single being released on the same day as the LP
  • The single spent four weeks at number one in the UK charts
  • In the US it reached number 11 and was nominated for three Grammys

For me, sitting in the car and thinking, it was a reminder that all the people I know, all the people I have known, fight a battle against loneliness every day. Some of us win. Some of us lose. All of us are reminded everyday of our need for friends who understand us and love us. And, for me as a Christian, it was a call to be the best friend I can be to all the people God brings into my life. Let’s spend our days being “loneliness fighters for Jesus.” Let’s bring the light of the gospel and news of the only One who is the perfect friend to sinners like us.

The Lyrics and a link to the remastered recording are below:

Eleanor Rigby

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?


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