by Alisha Jackson
Hit play on the video below and imagine Paul McCartney singing the name “Miss Daisy Hawkins” instead of “Eleanor Rigby”.
Can you picture it? Although it’s hard for us to accept, lonely person Eleanor Rigby was almost called Daisy Hawkins.
And Father McKenzie, well he was almost mistaken for a relative of Paul’s!
On April 28th of 1966, The Beatles recorded the vocal tracks for “Eleanor Rigby”, which was originally supposed to be part of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club album.
According to Paul (The Beatles, a Diary by Barry Miles, pg. 214), the recording session started off with him sitting down at the piano and getting the first line of the melody, and then “playing around with his words”.
“I think it was ‘Miss Daisy Hawkins’ originally, then it was her picking up the rice in a church after a wedding. That’s how nearly all our songs start, with the first line just suggesting itself from books or newspapers.”
McCartney explained the switch from Daisy Hawkins to Eleanor Rigby, saying,
“We [The Beatles] were working with Eleanor Bron on Help! and I liked the name Eleanor; it was the first time I’d ever been involved with that name.”
Actress Eleanor Bron, who took up her career after leaving Cambridge. She has appeared in many satirical programmes on British television such as ‘That Was The Week That Was’. (Photo by Mary Williams/Getty Images)
He explained where Rigby came from, saying,
“Jane Asher (his girlfriend at the time) was in a play in Bristol then, and I was walking round the streets waiting for her to finish. I didn’t really like ‘Daisy Hawkins’ – I wanted a name that was more real, and I got the name from a shop called ‘Rigby’.”
Beatles singer Paul McCartney meets his girlfriend actress Jane Asher at London Airport, May 28th 1967. (Photo by Stan Meagher/Express/Getty Images)
After Paul decided on the full name ‘Eleanor Rigby’, Father McKenzie was up next.
“Then the name Father McCartney came to me, and all the lonely people”, said Paul.
“But I thought that people would think it was supposed to be about my Dad sitting knitting his socks. Dad’s a happy lad. So I went through the telephone book and I got the name ‘McKenzie’.
While Paul has clearly explained where he got the names ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Father McKenzie’ from, we can’t help but wonder if the names came from somewhere he can’t even explain – his subconscious.
It turns out that he can’t help but wonder either!
“I thought, I swear, that I made up the name Eleanor Rigby like that. I remember quite distinctively having the name Eleanor, looking around for a believable surname and then wandering around the docklands in Bristol and seeing the shop there. But it seems that up in Woolton Cemetery, where I used to hang out a lot with John [Lennon], there’s a gravestone to an Eleanor Rigby. Apparently, a few yards to the right there’s someone called McKenzie.”
Suzanne Hailey (@SuziHailey) September 19, 2014
If you just got chills, imagine how Paul felt when he made the revelation! Paul admitted that the name may have actually come from his subconscious, saying,
“It was either complete coincidence or in my subconscious. I suppose it was more likely in my subconscious, because I will have been amongst those graves knocking around with John and wandering through there. So subconscious it may be – but this is just bigger than me.”