Strange how a little comment can make you see something that’s been there forever in a new light.
I’ve known all these Beatles songs since I was a little kid. And even though I never analyze lyrics, and mostly tend to be barely conscious of them, I could probably recite Eleanor Rigby from memory.
The song came up in the discussion forums in the songwriting course, and in the affiliated Facebook group, with some confusion over point of view and the idea of past-present-future in the song. Some one suggested that the perspective shifts through the song from Eleanor to McKenzie, but I don’t think perspective is the proper word for that. There is a passage of time as Eleanor goes from living to deceased. But what’s interesting is that it starts out in the present:
Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
and, at some point in the future, ends up in the past:
Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
although not entirely:
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
I’m not sure what to make of the shifting tenses. Maybe it implies something cyclical, things coming around back on themselves. But what really surprises me is that I never thought to notice it before, even though the song has been with me basically my entire life.